English bass-baritone John Shirley-Quirk was born in Liverpool on 28 August 1931. He sang in Holt High School Choir and also played the violin. He studied science at Liverpool University, but also had singing lessons from Austen Carnegie.
Until 1957 he was a chemistry lecturer at Acton Technical College, but also studied singing with Roy Henderson. From 1961 until 1962 he was a lay-clerk at St Paul's Cathedral, and began to sing at Glyndebourne, making his operatic debut in Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande in 1962. in 1963, whilst performing as a soloist in Bach's Christmas Oratorio, he met Benjamin Britten, and joined Britten's English Opera Group the following year.
By the early 1970s, he was singing at New York Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden and at the last night of the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts.
Shirley-Quirk made many recordings, including works by Britten, Mahler and Vaughan Williams, including the first complete version of Songs of Travel.
John Shirley-Quirk died of cancer in Bath on 7 April 2014, aged eighty-two.
A selection of M&V articles about John Shirley-Quirk
CD Spotlight. Special Enchantment - Richard Hickox's 'Light of Life' impresses Howard Smith. '... Chandos/Hickox win hands down.'
CD Spotlight. A Hint of Bitters - Music by William Ferris, heard by Howard Smith. 'Well worth investigating.'
Ensemble. Sing ye to the Lord - Roderic Dunnett was at the 2009 Hereford Three Choirs Festival