(L-R): Samantha Clarke and Jonathan Vaughan
Samantha Clarke wins Guildhall School’s Gold Medal 201911:35, 13th May 2019
Guildhall School of Music & Drama has announced soprano Samantha Clarke as the winner of this year’s Gold Medal, the school’s most prestigious prize for outstanding soloists.
The prize has been open to singers and instrumentalists in alternate years since 1950. Clarke’s winning performance included Strauss’s Das Rosenband, Poulenc’s Fleurs and Rachmanivov’s Vesennie vody accompanied by pianist Michael Pandya.
The other Gold Medal finalists, Ema Nikolovska (mezzo-soprano), William Thomas (bass) and James Newby (baritone) also performed programmes of songs and arias of their choice before a Barbican Hall audience and a distinguished panel of judges including bass-baritone Sir Bryn Terfel, Guildhall School alumnus and winner of the 1989 Gold Medal; Kevin Murphy, director of coaching and music administration for Indiana University Opera Theater; mezzo-soprano Ann Murray DBE; and Jonathan Vaughan, vice-principal and director of music at Guildhall School.
Clarke is studying with Yvonne Kenny in her second year on the Opera course at Guildhall School as a Baroness de Turckheim Scholar, Help Musicians, Tait Memorial and Countess of Munster Trust Scholar. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Leverhulme Royal Northern College of Music Award and has performed in venues such as Wigmore Hall and the Foundling Museum.
Commenting on her achievement, Clarke said: ‘I was in total disbelief when I heard my name read out, but I am completely buzzing and over the moon to have won the Gold Medal. What an honour! I felt very privileged to be performing on the Barbican stage and the support from the audience was so encouraging. It was lovely to have my tutor Yvonne Kenny watching my performance and I can’t thank her and my wonderful accompanist Michael Pandya enough for their help and guidance.’