The Queen's Medal


What with things being the way they are, everyone's timetables and deadlines have slipped a bit in the last eighteen months. One of my ongoing duties is to oversee the annual award of the Queen's Medal for Music. In fact it's more like a monthly task, requiring a fairly long list of small steps, from inviting jurors to commissioning the inscription on the medal. Earlier in the autumn I was still staring balefully at Medal memos dated "2019" and feeling rather useless.


So, I have to hand it to Buckingham Palace, and the Queen herself, for powering through their Medal To-Do list in the last couple of months. Firstly, Imogen Cooper was invited into the Palace to receive her (2019) Medal. At the time of the original award, we couldn't have know what a major part Imogen would play in our national Covid-struck concert life. She was one of the earliest musicians to perform online at Wigmore Hall, and during her audience with the Queen in October modestly alluded to her currently extra busy programme, including orchestral concerts and whole solo recitals, sometimes performing twice in one day.


Following this welcome resumption of business, the Queen's Medal Committee gallantly met on Teams for the second year running, to elect the 2021 Medallist, who eventually turned out to be the inspirational Scottish trumpet player and educational leader, John Wallace. Another of my little jobs is to write short biographies of these people for royal reading, and while preparing this, it was a total tonic to catch up with John's current, typically energetic and wide-ranging activities.


Finally, and rather fabulously taking place in Windsor, the Queen found a spare half hour during December to award the 2020 Medal to organist Thomas Trotter (pictured). It turned out that Thomas and I were the first people to be photographed with HM for several weeks, thereby causing some excitement amongst royal-watching media, and prompting the Daily Mail (quite rightly) to include a long sidebar about Thomas and his amazing career as a concert organist. And now, a few weeks off before 2022, when the search for the next Medallist will resume.

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JUDITH WEIR

Composer