The Queen’s Medal for Music 2021

The Queen’s Medal for Music 2021

Published: 22/11/2021

A former principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland has been awarded The Queen’s Medal for Music 2021.

John Wallace CBE, the internationally renowned Scottish trumpet soloist, composer and educator, is the seventeenth recipient of the award, following the celebrated organist Thomas Trotter, who received The Queen’s Medal for Music 2020.

John Wallace started playing the trumpet when he was seven years old, and at sixteen, toured Europe with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. His professional career spans over five decades, playing with the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic and the London Symphony Orchestra.

John has dedicated much of his career to the promotion of arts education. He served as head of the brass faculty at the Royal Academy of Music in London, before becoming principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

He is a fellow of the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal College of Music, the Trinity Laban Conservatoire, the Leeds Conservatoire, the Royal Northern College of Music, and the Royal Irish Academy of Music.

John Wallace, former RCS Principal

As well as his career as soloist, John Wallace is the founder of the Wallace Collection, a brass ensemble currently based in St Andrews. The Wallace Collection has toured all over the world, and is now based in Scotland as a partner of the St Andrews Music Participation (StAMP) Project, which has given 150 youngsters across Fife the opportunity to start learning a brass instrument since the start of the pandemic. John also convenes the Music Education Partnership Group, which worked to secure free instrumental tuition in Scottish state schools.

The Queen’s Medal for Music was established in 2005 at the suggestion of former Master of The Queen’s Music, the late Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. The Medal is awarded annually to an outstanding individual or group of musicians who have had a major influence on the musical life of the nation.

The nominating process for the award is overseen by a committee chaired by the Master of The Queen’s Music, Judith Weir. The committee meet annually to discuss their nominees before submitting their recommendation to The Queen for approval.

Commenting on the award, Judith Weir said: “Following his stellar career as a trumpet player, John Wallace transformed arts education during his stewardship of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. His creativity and energy remain an inspiration and example to everyone in the musical world.”

On hearing of the award, John Wallace said: “I am honoured and humbled to accept this award. I work with many teams of inspiring musicians across every genre of music and aspect of music education in Scotland. I just light the touch-paper and stand back. This award is recognition of the indomitable spirit of those musicians.”

Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, Principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland said: “On behalf of the whole RCS community, my warmest congratulation to John Wallace on the award of The Queen’s Medal for Music 2021. John’s passion for sharing the power of music in Scotland has been lifelong and this most prestigious award is wonderful recognition of this commitment.”

John Wallace, former RCS Principal, awardedhas been awarded Her Majesty’s Medal for Music 2021.

History of The Queen’s Medal for Music

The Queen’s Medal for Music is awarded annually to an outstanding individual or group of musicians. Nominees for the award may be of any nationality. The award was first made in 2005, when the recipient was conductor and composer the late Sir Charles Mackerras. Other recipients of the award include:

  • 2006 Sir Bryn Terfel CBE
  • 2007 Judith Weir CBE
  • 2008 Kathryn Tickell OBE DL
  • 2009 Sir Colin Davis CH CBE
  • 2010 Dame Emma Kirkby DBE
  • 2011 Nicholas Daniel
  • 2012 National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain
  • 2013 Sir Thomas Allen CBE
  • 2014 Simon Halsey CBE
  • 2015 Oliver Knussen CBE
  • 2016 Nicola Benedetti MBE
  • 2017 Thea Musgrave CBE
  • 2018 Gary Crosby OBE
  • 2019 Imogen Cooper CBE
  • 2020 Thomas Trotter


John Wallace images © KK Dundas

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