Trumpeter, composer and former Principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, John Wallace has been honoured for his five decades of service to music with the Queen’s Medal for Music 2021.
Playing from the age of seven and touring Europe with the National Youth Orchestra at 15, Wallace is regarded as one of the world’s greatest trumpet soloists. He played with many of the great orchestras, including the Philharmonia under Riccardo Muti and Lorin Maazel, the Royal Philharmonic, and the London Symphony Orchestra under Andre Previn. He played as soloist at the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer and had concertos written for him by, among others, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies who had suggested the idea of the medal to the Queen back in 2005.
John Wallace also founded the Wallace Collection, a brass ensemble based in St Andrews, in his native Fife, Scotland, which toured the world and topped the Billboard Crossover Charts twice. But his greatest contribution to music has been in the promotion of arts education. Before becoming Principal at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS), he was head of the Brass Faculty at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he is still a Fellow. He is also a Fellow of the Royal College of Music, Trinity Laban Conservatoire, Leeds Conservatoire, the Royal Northern College of Music and the Royal Irish Academy of Music. He retired from the RCS in 2014.
Through the Wallace Collection and its partnership with St Andrews Music Participation, he has helped 150 young people across Fife over the last two years. And as convener of the Music Education Partnership, he has worked to give Scottish state school students free instrumental tuition.
As Chair of the committee that meets to decide upon which nominees to suggest to the Queen, Judith Weir, Master of the Queen’s Music 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.’
Wallace responded, ‘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.’