He was born in London 8 March 1961, and raised in Canterbury, Kent in England. Padmore studied clarinet and piano prior to his gaining a choral scholarship to King's College, Cambridge. He graduated in 1982 with an honours degree in music.
He has established an international career in opera, concert and recital. His appearances in Bach Passions have gained particular notice especially his acclaimed performances as Evangelist in the St Matthew and St John Passions with the Berlin Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle, staged by Peter Sellars, including Berlin, Salzburg, New York and the BBC Proms.
In the opera house Padmore has worked with directors Peter Brook, Katie Mitchell, Mark Morris and Deborah Warner. Recent work includes the leading roles in Harrison Birtwistle The Corridor and The Cure at the Aldeburgh Festival and in London; Handel Jephtha for WNO and ENO and Captain Vere in Britten Billy Budd and Evangelist in a staging of St Matthew Passion for Glyndebourne Festival Opera. He also played Peter Quint in an acclaimed BBC TV production of Britten's The Turn of the Screw and recorded the title role in La Clemenza di Tito with René Jacobs for Harmonia Mundi. Future roles include Third Angel/John in George Benjamin Written on Skin with the Royal Opera, Covent Garden.
In concert he has performed with the world’s leading orchestras including the Munich Radio, Berlin, Vienna, New York and London Philharmonic Orchestras, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Boston and London Symphony Orchestras and the Philharmonia. He makes regular appearances with Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment with whom he has conceived projects exploring both Bach St John and St Matthew Passions.
Padmore has given recitals worldwide. He appears frequently at Wigmore Hall, London where he first sang all three Schubert song cycles in May 2008, was their Artist in Residence in the 2009/10 Season. He repeated the cycles there with Paul Lewis and this season they will perform them for the White Light Festival at Lincoln Center, New York. He also recently sang the cycles at Theater an der Wien and at Salle Gaveau in Paris with Till Fellner. Composers who have written for him include Harrison Birtwistle, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Alec Roth, Sally Beamish, Thomas Larcher and Huw Watkins. As well as his regular collaborators Paul Lewis, Till Fellner, Kristian Bezuidenhout, Julius Drake, Roger Vignoles, Simon Lepper and Andrew West, he works with many internationally renowned chamber musicians including Imogen Cooper and Steven Isserlis.
His extensive discography includes recent releases: Beethoven Missa Solemnis with Bernard Haitink and Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks on BR Klassik and lieder by Beethoven, Haydn and Mozart with Kristian Bezuidenhout for Harmonia Mundi with whom Padmore has also recorded: Handel arias As Steals the Morn with the English Concert (BBC Music Magazine Vocal Award); Schubert cycles with Paul Lewis (Winterreise won the 2010 Gramophone magazine Vocal Solo Award); Schumann Dichterliebe with Kristian Bezuidenhout (2011 Edison Klassiek Award) and Britten Serenade, Nocturne and Finzi Dies Natalis with the Britten Sinfonia (ECHO/Klassik 2013 award); The staged St Matthew Passion with the Berlin Philharmonic and Rattle was awarded the BBC Music Magazine 2013 DVD Award.
Padmore is Artistic Director of the St. Endellion Summer Music Festival in Cornwall.