Irish Knight of Finland

Irish Knight of Finland John Gilhooly
John Gilhooly OBE

London-based Limerick Director, John Gilhooly, awarded rank of Knight of Finland

The President of Finland has awarded John Gilhooly (Director of the world-famous Wigmore Hall and Chairman of the 202-year-old Royal Philharmonic Society) the rank of Knight of the Order of The White Rose of Finland. The Finnish Ambassador will invest John with the Knight’s Insignia on Thursday 17 December.

This is in recognition of John’s distinction in the music profession and his friendship with Finland.

Only a handful of Irish people have ever been awarded the Order of the White Rose, which is the highest order Finland bestows on non-nationals.

John has also been honoured this week with Honorary Fellowship of the Guildhall School of Music (Hon FGS), which will be conferred in January, and he was previously decorated with an OBE by Her Majesty Queen in the 2013 Birthday Honours.t

John Gilhooly became Director of Wigmore Hall in early 2005, making him the youngest leader of any of the world’s great concert halls.

Irish Knight of Finland - John Gilhooly
Wigmore Hall

He had been Executive Director of Wigmore Hall since December 2000, and is credited with having overseen the artistic, financial and administrative transformation of the Hall over the past 15 years.

His tenure as Director has produced record box office returns and the Hall’s highest ever membership levels, as well as a tripling of overall revenue and annual fundraising.

As Artistic Director of Wigmore Hall, he programmes the largest chamber music and song series in the world, and he is particularly noted for his commitment to outstanding emerging artists and new music.

John Gilhooly undertakes a huge amount of voluntary and charitable work in the music sector and beyond.

Irish Knight of Finland - Royal Philharmonic SocietyIn July 2010, he was elected Chairman of the Royal Philharmonic Society (one of the oldest music societies in the world), and he led the Society’s Bicentenary celebrations in 2013.

He is also Chairman of Mahogany Opera Group, an award-winning, internationally renowned contemporary opera company.

He is a trustee of the Susan Chilcott Scholarship and the International Musicians Seminar Prussia Cove, and is a member of the Advisory Council for London Music Masters.

He is a Patron of the performing arts organisation Irish Heritage and the CAVATINA Music Trust, and is also a Patron and an active fundraiser of the refurbishment project for Corpus Christi Church, Covent Garden, the national Catholic Church for those working in the performing arts.

Irish Knight of Finland

He is a recipient of Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Music (2006), Honorary Membership of the Royal College of Music (2012) and Honorary Fellowship of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama (2015).

In 2013 John Gilhooly was awarded the OBE.

John has twice been named in ‘London’s Top 100 Opinion Makers’ by Time Out magazine, and was listed in the Evening Standard’s ‘Most Influential’ list in 2011, 2014 and 2015.

He is a frequent public speaker and well-known radio and media commentator, and is regularly invited to take part in international competition juries such as BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, Das Lied Competition in Berlin, the Lyon International Chamber Music Competition (CIMCL), the Cologne International Music Competition (Internationaler Musikwettbewerb Köln) and the Cité de la Musique String Quartet Biennial (Biennale de Quatuors à cordes) in Paris. Future competition juries include the Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition.

John Gilhooly’s tenure at Wigmore Hall has also seen the success of three capital appeals, the establishment of an endowment fund, and over £40 million raised for capital and artistic projects under his leadership.

Irish Knight of Finland - Wigmore Hall In 2004 he managed the refurbishment of the Hall, and in 2006 led the acquisition of a 250-year lease. In 2015 he led an additional £2 million refurbishment of the Hall’s backstage and broadcast areas, to fully equip Wigmore Hall for the digital era. John Gilhooly also established the Hall’s highly regarded CD label ‘Wigmore Hall Live’ (named Gramophone’s record label of the year 2011). He is a native of Limerick, which boasts a strong chamber music and opera tradition.

He read History and Political Science at University College Dublin. In addition to his academic studies, he pursued classical vocal studies, as a tenor, at the Dublin City College of Music and the Leinster School of Music, under Veronica Dunne.

In December 2013, Musical America named him as one of the most influential arts leaders in the international music world. In 2016, he will play a major part in co-ordinating the London activities for the commemoration of the 1916 Rising.

He is delighted to play an important role at this pivotal moment in relations between Ireland and the UK, and to help, through culture, the strengthening of this important bond, recognising and enhancing further Ireland’s reputation for cultural excellence over the past century.

For more about Wigmore Hall, including their upcoming programmes visit their website:

Read more about the Royal Philharmonic Society


Sign in or create your account to join the discussion

Register now to keep updated with the latest Irish news

  • Email updates
  • Competitions and give aways
  • Full access to 28 years of archives

Sign up to our Newsletter to be in with a chance to win a snazzy iPad and for all the latest...

  • Email updates
  • Regular features
  • Competitions and give aways