Irish-born director of Wigmore Hall awarded CBE in honours list

John Gilhooly’s ‘immense contribution to classical music’ marked by Queen Elizabeth

John Gilhooly, the Limerick-born director of London's Wigmore Hall has been appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in Queen Elizabeth's New Year's honours list for his services to music.

Mr Gilhooly overcame formidable logistical challenges to stage concerts safely at the hall, which has the largest classical music programme in Britain, during the coronavirus lockdowns of the past two years. Ireland’s ambassador to Britain Adrian O’Neill congratulated Mr Gilhooly, who was awarded an OBE in the queen’s 2013 birthday honours, on the latest recognition of his work.

"As Artistic and Executive Director of the prestigious Wigmore Hall for the past 16 years, John Gilhooly has made an immense contribution to the celebration, promotion and development of classical music. This honour conferred on him by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth is an apt and richly deserved recognition of that distinguished record of service, which has benefitted singers, musicians and music lovers across these islands and for which I warmly congratulate John," he said.

Mr Gilhooly, whose brother Owen is a professional singer who teaches at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin, comes from a musical family in Castleconnell, Co Limerick.


A student of history and politics at University College Dublin, Mr Gilhooly trained as a tenor under Veronica Dunne and joined Wigmore Hall as chief executive in 2000, becoming director five years later.

The hall closed following the lockdown in March 2020 but Mr Gilhooly staged a series of 20 concerts starting the following June, streamed live and broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

Aubrey Adams, chairman of the Wigmore Hall, said the CBE was a recognition of Mr Gilhooly's unique achievement during the pandemic.

“I am delighted that John has been recognised for his contribution to the culture life of this country, particularly his display of leadership, resilience and resourcefulness in bringing music to the nation under tremendously challenging circumstances over the past two years. The honour is also a testament to his great voluntary work outside his role at Wigmore Hall in helping many charities and organisations,” he said.

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton is London Editor of The Irish Times