Tenor Mark Padmore came of age singing in choirs oriented toward Renaissance and Baroque music, and as a soloist he has specialized in Baroque opera and choral music. His repertory, however, extends forward to Britten, Vaughan Williams, and contemporary choral music, and he has become one of Britain's most consistenly popular singers.
Padmore was born in London on March 8, 1961, but grew up in Canterbury. He studied clarinet and piano as a child, but jumped at the chance to enter King's College, Cambridge, as a Choral Scholar and to join the Choir of King's College, Cambridge. That led in turn to admission to Cambridge as a student. He graduated in 1982 and immediately set about establishing himself as a singer. He sang at one time or another with the top Renaissance vocal groups of the 1980s: the Tallis Scholars, The Sixteen, and the Hilliard Ensemble. He has also performed with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Monteverdi Choir, Collegium Vocale, the English Baroque Soloists, and the instrumental ensemble Fretwork. In the field of choral music he is noted for his performances of Bach's major choral works, including those under Sir Simon Rattle with the Berlin Philharmonic. He has sung on top British operatic stages, performing music from Handel's Jephtha at the English National Opera, to Mozart's La clemenza di Tito under conductor René Jacobs in a Harmonia Mundi recording, to Harrison Birtwistle's The Corridor at the Aldeburgh Festival. He appeared as Peter Quint on BBC television in a production of Britten's The Turn of the Screw (a DVD of which won a Gramophone award for best operatic recording), and as a recitalist he has often performed the music of Britten, covering music written for the vocally similar Peter Pears. He is a frequent guest at London's Wigmore Hall, often performing challenging contemporary music by the likes of Birtwistle, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Sally Beamish, and Huw Watkins. Padmore's recording catalogue is extensive and deep. In 1999 and 2000s he recorded Bach's Lutheran masses for Chandos, and he has continued to record for that label. In 2007 he made his debut on Harmonia Mundi with the Handel album As Steals the Morn, and he has recorded extensively for that label. In 2018 he recorded the Winterreise song cycle of Schubert, another composer he has favored, for Harmonia Mundi, accompanied by fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout.