John Mark Ainsley (Tenor)
Born: 9th July 1963, Crewe, Cheshire, England
The English tenor John Mark Ainsley was born in Crewe in 1963 and studied at Magdalen College Oxford, followed by a period as a lay clerk at Christ Church; his teachers included Anthony Rolfe Johnson and Diane Forlano. After singing with various professional ensembles including Gothic Voices, he made his operatic debut at the Innsbruck Early Music Festival and was soon in high international demand for baroque repertoire and Mozart roles (particularly the title-roles in La clemenza di Tito and Idomeneo). Later in his career he gravitated towards twentieth-century and contemporary repertoire, and became particularly associated with the music of Henze and Britten – his large discography includes Lysander on Sir Colin Davis’s 1995 recording of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the tenor solos on Paul McCreesh’s BBC Music Magazine Award-winning War Requiem, and (on DVD and Blu-ray) Captain Vere in Michael Grandage’s widely acclaimed 2010 production of Billy Budd from Glyndebourne.
Other key recordings include the role of Bajazet on Riccardo Minasi’s Tamerlano (‘Ainsley’s commanding Bajazet is the great performance here’ – The Sunday Times), Finzi’s A Young Man’s Exhortation with Iain Burnside, and (also with Burnside) Remember Your Lovers, a recital of songs by Tippett, Britten, Purcell and Pelham Humfrey which received five stars in BBC Music Magazine and prompted The Times to describe Ainsley as ‘alive to every halting breath of a song’.
After being diagnosed with leukaemia in 2016, Ainsley retired from singing but continues to teach and adjudicate.