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Baritone and composer recognised for services to music in Queen’s Birthday Honours

Baritone Simon Keenlyside has been knighted for his services to music, and composer Thomas Adès was appointed a CBE.

Two stars of the classical world – and Honorary Fellows at St John’s – have been named as receiving honours from the Queen.

Award-winning baritone Simon Keenlyside has been knighted for his services to music, and composer Thomas Adès was appointed a CBE.

Sir Simon became a chorister at St John's College School, which was founded by St John’s College for the education of the choristers of the College choir, when he was eight. He described his six years as a chorister as “an incredible start in my musical life” and credits his choirmaster, the late George Guest, as teaching him “almost everything I know as a musician, his feeling for words is what set me on my path as a singer”.

Simon Keenlyside

Sir Simon Keenlyside. Credit: Robert Workman

Sir Simon returned to St John’s College Cambridge in 1980 as a Choral Scholar, initially reading Anthropology before he swapped to Zoology. After graduation, he won a Peter Moores Foundation scholarship and joined the Royal Northern College of Music.

Sir Simon is now one of the world’s most sought-after and charismatic singers, renowned for his versatility and highly-charged performances on stage. He is particularly acclaimed for his performances as Posa, Macbeth, Hamlet, Billy Budd, and Prospero in the world premiere of Adès’ opera of The Tempest.

Sir Simon was the winner of the 2006 Olivier Award for outstanding achievement in Opera, the ECHO Klassik Male Singer of the Year Award in 2007, and was honoured as Musical America’s Vocalist of the Year Award in 2011. He was made an Honorary Fellow of St John’s in 2008.

“These remarkable men truly bring music to life for their audiences in the most compelling and moving way"

Composer, conductor and pianist Thomas Adès was made a CBE for services to music. Adès is best known for his operas Powder Her Face and The Exterminating Angel. Powder her Face, which was his first opera, has been performed more than two hundred times worldwide.

Thopmas Ades

Thomas Adès. Credit: Brian Voce

Adès regularly conducts for orchestras such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra and Royal Concertgebouw, and there have been many international festivals dedicated to his music. His many awards include the 2015 Sonning Prize and the 2000 Grawemeyer Award. He was made an Honorary Fellow of St John’s in 2013.

Sir Christopher Dobson, Master of St John's College, who was also knighted for services to Science and Higher Education in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2018, said: “These remarkable men truly bring music to life for their audiences in the most compelling and moving way. They have taken the operatic art form to another level and these honours are highly deserved. We would like to wish them both our warmest congratulations from the St John’s community.”