Thomas Quasthoff (Chair)
For almost four decades, Thomas Quasthoff has set the standard on international stages, moving the hearts of countless listeners with his artistry. He ended his outstanding career as a singer in 2012. However, he has retained his close ties to singing and music as a teacher at the Hanns Eisler Music Academy in Berlin and in various master classes, as a recitalist and speaker at concerts, readings, and new projects.
One of the most remarkable singers in his field, Quasthoff was a frequent guest of such orchestras as the Berlin and the Vienna Philharmonics and many other fine ensembles. He could regularly be enjoyed at all major music venues, working closely with conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Christoph Eschenbach, James Levine, Bernard Haitink, Mariss Jansons, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti, Seiji Ozawa, Sir Simon Rattle, Helmuth Rilling, Christian Thielemann and Franz Welser-Möst.
Thomas Quasthoff was a professor at the Hochschule für Musik in Detmold from 1996 until 2004, and has taught at the Hanns Eisler School of Music in Berlin ever since, where he dedicates himself passionately to the upcoming generation of singers. This devotion inspired him to launch the “Das Lied” international song competition.
John Mark Ainsley
Cheshire-born John Mark Ainsley, studied in Oxford and worked with Diane Forlano. His concert engagements include appearances e.g. with both the London Symphony and Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic and Staatskapelle, Vienna Philharmonic, multiple major US-orchestras such as New York and Cleveland Philharmonic under the baton of Sir Colin Davis, Norrington, Rattle, Masur, Welser-Möst, C. Abbado and Boulez among others. He has sung Don Ottavio at Glyndebourne Festival, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and the Royal Opera House. He appeared in many different roles at Bayerische Staatsoper and received the Munich Festival Prize for his „Orfeo“ (Monteverdi). He created the role of „Der Daemon“ in the world premiere of Hans Werner Henze’s L’Upupa at the Salzburg Festival and sang Skuratov From the House of the Dead at the Amsterdam, Vienna and Aix-en-Provence Festivals, at Teatro alla Scala Milan and Staatsoper Berlin. He sang Captain Vere both in Frankfurt and at Glyndebourne Festival. Most recently he appeared as Orfeo at the Theater an der Wien, and as Grimoaldo at English National Opera.
John has enregistered multiple classical recordings with major labels such as Decca, E.M.I., Hyperion and Deutsche Grammophon. John Mark won the 2007 Royal Philharmonic Society Singer Award and teaches at the Royal Academy of Music.
Born in South Africa, James was a Borletti-Buitoni Trust and Young Classical Artist Trust artist and was shortlisted for the RPS Outstanding Young Artist Award and the Chamber Music and Song Award. He is an International Tutor in Piano Accompaniment at the Royal Northern College of Music and head of the Song Programme at the Verbier Festival Academy Atelier Lyrique.
An accomplished chamber musician, soloist and accompanist, James’ partnerships include Lawrence Power, the Heath Quartet, Mark Padmore, Sir Thomas Allen, Dame Kiri te Kanawa, Pumeza Matshikiza and Pretty Yende. Venues include Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Berlin Konzerthaus, Vienna Musikverein, and the Bergen, Spitalfields, Aldeburgh, Cheltenham, Bath, Edinburgh, Brighton, and Aix-en-Provence Festivals.
James has presented his own series at the Wigmore Hall and appears regularly on tour throughout Europe and the US with artists including Lise Davidsen, Allan Clayton, Tara Erraught, Benjamin Appl, Peter Moore and Angel Blue.
John Gilhooly, Artistic and Executive Director of Wigmore Hall. John Gilhooly became Director of Wigmore Hall in 2005, making him, then, the youngest leader of any of the world’s great concert halls. As Director of Wigmore Hall, he programmes the largest chamber music and song series in the world. John has been honoured by heads of state and academic institutions. In 2013 he was awarded an OBE and in 2015 was made a Knight of the Order of the White Rose of Finland by the President of Finland. John has also received the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art and the Order of the Star of Italy. In 2016 he was awarded the German Order of Merit, Germany’s highest civilian honour. He is a recipient of Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Music (2006), Honorary Membership of the Royal College of Music (2012), Honorary Fellowship of the Guildhall School (2015), and Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Irish Academy of Music (2016) and is patron of Leeds Lieder, Irish Heritage, Cavatina Chamber Music Trust, Wimbledon Music Festival and Corpus Christi Maiden Lane Refurbishment Project. John was awarded the Heidelberger Frühling Music Award in 2019 he was also presented with the Musicians’ Company Cobbett Medal for chamber music. He is Chairman of the Royal Philharmonic Society, one of the oldest music societies in the world and is the current Chairman of BBC Cardiff Singer of the World.
Helga Machreich was born in Villach, Austria and grew up in a musical family. After graduating from high school, she decided to live in France for an extended period of time. She studied French at the University of Rennes in Brittany, then returned home to attend the Vienna University of Economics and Business, majoring in Commercial Science. There, she formed the economic university’s amateur orchestra, participating herself as clarinetist and organizing numerous tours throughout Europe for the group.
In 1997, she decided to give up her studies to take up a position at Dr. Raab & Dr. Böhm Artist Agency, eventually making her hobby and great passion for classical music her chosen profession. Dr. Horst Böhm promoted her to senior management in 2001, which allowed her to promote the careers of young, talented artists with great competence and personal care. During the course of her 14-year long career, she succeeded in bringing renowned singers like Patricia Petibon, Bernarda Fink, Marjana Lipovšek, Michael Schade, and Thomas Quasthoff to the agency.
In May 2011, Helga Machreich founded Machreich Artists Management agency, which she runs independently.
Thorsten Schmidt is the founding director of the Heidelberger Frühling music festival and Heidelberg’s International Lied Centre. Since 1997 he has figured as impulse-giver and enabler for the festival, attended annually by some 47,000 music-lovers. A central concern is freedom of development. In 2005 he broadened the scope of the undertaking with the pioneering String Quartet Festival dedicated entirely to this genre. The Festival Academy established in 2011 and the production think-tank „LAB” (2017) are devoted to the promotion of young musicians; artistic directors are Igor Levit, Thomas Hampson and Eleonore Büning. Since 2015 Levit has also been in charge of “Standpoints”, now a perennial feature of the festival. In 2013 Schmidt established the annual Heidelberg Music Conference, an important encounter venue for the classical music scene. The International Song Centre Heidelberg (2016) assembles all activities devoted to the Lied, notably the competition “Das Lied” transferred to the Lied Centre in 2017, the permanent fixture “Neuland. Lied”, and the various “Lied LABs” dedicated to new song performance formats. Productive exchange and partnerships with other institutions and outstanding singers have resulted in a growing network devoted to the Lied in all its aspects, past, present and future.
Richard Stokes, Professor of Lieder at the Royal Academy of Music, is a regular juror at international Song Competitions. For the operatic stage he has translated Wozzeck and La voix humaine (Opera North), and Parsifal, Lulu, L’Amour de loin and Jakob Lenz (ENO). His books include The Spanish Song Companion (with Jacqueline Cockburn), J.S. Bach – The Complete Cantatas (Scarecrow Press), A French Song Companion (with Graham Johnson) (OUP), The Book of Lieder (Faber), a translation of Jules Renard’s complete Histoires Naturelles in a dual-language edition (Alma Classics) and The Penguin Book of English Song – Seven Centuries of Poetry from Chaucer to Auden, now available in paperback. With Alfred Brendel he collaborated on the latter’s Collected Poems: Playing the Human Game (Phaidon). His translations of Kafka’s Metamorphosis and The Trial have been published by Hesperus Press, and Alma Books published his translation (with Hannah Stokes) of Kafka’s Letter to his Father. In Autumn 2021, Faber will publish his The Complete Songs of Hugo Wolf, which will be launched at Wigmore Hall on 2 October 2021. Richard Stokes was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2012.
The participants are awarded points from one to five by the jury in the following categories: voice quality, technical ability, musical presentation (rhythm, phrasing, expression), diction and artistic presence. No jury member will judge a current or former pupil.