Mark Padmore is a British tenor, especially recognized for his performances of Baroque music. Padmore studied clarinet as a boy, and seems to have intended a career as a clarinetist. His course was changed by the opportunity to become a Choral Scholar at King's College, Cambridge. As a result, he became a member of the famous Chorus of King's College, Cambridge, singing daily services during the school term, participating in their tours and concerts, and in exchange receiving expert vocal training and musical education and admission as a student at Cambridge itself, graduating in 1982.
His clear, highly controlled, and even voice soon put him in demand on the early music scene. He sang in leading ensembles such as The Sixteen, and The Tallis Scholars; in 1987 he became a member of the Hilliard Ensemble. Other leading early music groups with which he has performed include the English Baroque Soloists, Collegium Vocale, the Monteverdi Choir, Fretwork, and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
Padmore sings a great deal of opera from the Baroque and early Classical eras. Some of his roles include Aricie in Rameau's Hippolyte et Aricie (Operas of Paris, Nice, Montpellier, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music), Thespis and Mercure in Rameau's Platée (Edinburgh Festival; Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London; Berkeley, CA), Arnalta in Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea (Teatro Comunale, Florence), Admète in Gluck's Alceste (Scottish Opera and Opéra de Nice), and Orfeo in F.J. Haydn's Orfeo ed Euridice (Opera de Lausanne).
Other roles include Bajazet in Handel's Tamerlano, Jason in Charpentier's Médée, Pyramus in Lampe's Pyramus and Thisbe, Ferrando in Mozart's Così fan tutte, Hylas in Chabrier's Briséïs, and Interpreter in Vaughan Williams' Pilgrim's Progress.
Padmore has been acclaimed worldwide for his performances of the Evangelist roles of the Bach Passions. He has appeared in the major festivals at Edinburgh, the BBC Proms, Ludwigsburg, Salzburg, Tanglewood, and the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York.
He has proven ideal in the higher tenor parts in music of Benjamin Britten, mostly written for Peter Pears. Among Britten's operas he has sung the Novice in Billy Budd, Johnny Inkslinger and Hot Biscuit Slim in Paul Bunyan, and Lysander in A Midsummer Night's Dream. He sang the Serenade for tenor, horn, and strings with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and Saint Nicolas in Tampere, Finland. His DVD of The Turn of the Screw won a 2003 Gramophone Award for Best Opera Recording.
As an art song singer, Padmore does not restrict his repertory to any particular era. He has sung Schubert's Die schöne Müllerin and Winterreise, Berlioz's Les nuits d'été, and Henze's Six Arabic Songs, as well as songs by Dowland, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Grainger, Britten, and Tippett. His recording of Winterreise with pianist Paul Lewis won the Gramophone Award for Best Solo Album in 2010.