Photo: David Beecroft

Charlotte Bray

British composer Charlotte Bray is one of the most esteemed and in-demand composers of her generation. Championed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, London Sinfonietta, and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, her music has been performed at festivals in Aldeburgh, Cheltenham, Tanglewood, Aix-en-Provence and Verbier and with renowned conductors including Marin Alsop, Sir Mark Elder, Oliver Knussen, Jessica Cottis, Daniel Harding, and Karina Canellakis.

The world premiere of Ungrievable Lives for string quartet, was performed on 7 April by the Castalian Quartet at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg. It was inspired by a new installation by artist Caroline Burraway, comprising 13 children’s dresses handmade from discarded refugee lifejackets. The work will also be performed at Wigmore Hall, Konzerthaus Wien, Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival, and Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.

Upcoming events include the world premiere of orchestral piece Forsaken, which will be performed by Philharmonischen Orchesters Hagen under the baton of Joseph Trafton on 14 June at Stadthalle Hagen in Germany. The work features one of Bray’s central concerns in her work; the human influence on nature. At the Aldeburgh Festival on 24 June, a piece for cellist Anssi Karttunen, From the Innermost Places, will receive its world premiere as part of a concert series celebrating Oliver Knussen. On 2 July, Bray’s piece The Earth Cried Out to the Sky for mezzo-soprano and piano will receive its world premiere at the Kissinger Sommer music festival in Germany.

Other recent highlights: ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien under Maren Alsop, Youth Symphony Orchestra of the Winter International Arts Festival Sochi under Yuri Bashmet, Philharmonischer Orchester Hagen under Joseph Trafton, WDR Sinfonieorchester under Cristian Măcelaru and BBC Symphony Orchestra under Sakari Oramo in the BBC Proms. October 2021 saw the World Premiere at Oxford Lieder Festival of Crossing Faultlines, a song cycle commissioned by soprano Samantha Crawford and pianist Lana Bode, which sets specially commissioned text by Nicki Jackowska about women’s experiences in the workplace. This other Eden (2020) commissioned by ECHO for their Rising Stars programme for oboist Cristina Gómez Godoy; The Certainty of Tides (December 2019) for solo cello and strings, Natalie Clein and the Aurora Orchestra; triple concerto Germinate (May 2019) Sitkovetsky Trio and the Philharmonia, Investec International Music Festival; Bring Me All Your Dreams (June 2019) Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Aldeburgh Festival.

In 2019 Bray was awarded an Ivor Novello Award for Invisible Cities. Winner of the Lili Boulanger Prize (2014), Critics’ Circle Award for Exceptional Young Talent (2014), Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize (2010), At the Speed of Stillness featured in the ISCM World Music Days Festival 2017 in Vancouver. Bray was selected as a MacDowell Norton Stevens Fellow (2015-16) and interviewed as part of BBC Radio 3’s Composers’ Room series 2015. She is an Honorary Member of Birmingham Conservatoire, named as their Alumni of the Year 2014 (Excellence in Sport or the Arts), and also listed in The Evening Standard’s Most Influential Londoners (2011). Composer-in-Residence with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group/Sound and Music (2009/10), Oxford Lieder Festival (2011) and Hatfield House Chamber Music Festival (2015), her residencies include MacDowell (2013, 2015), Liguria Study Centre Bogliasco (2013), and Aldeburgh Music (2010, 2015).

Portrait discs of Bray’s music have been recorded on RTF Classical (2018) and NMC Records (2014). Her work also features on several discs including Tecchlers Cello by Guy Johnston (Kings College Cambridge 2017), Oberon Celebrates Shakespeare by the Oberon Trio (Avi-music and SWR 2016) and Upheld by Stillness by the choral ensemble Ora (Harmonia Mundi, released February 2016).

Originally from High Wycombe, Charlotte (b.1982) graduated from Birmingham Conservatoire with First Class Honours, having studied composition with Joe Cutler, and then completed a Masters in Composition with Distinction from the Royal College of Music in London studying with Mark-Anthony Turnage. She went on to participate in the Britten-Pears Contemporary Composition Course with Oliver Knussen, Colin Matthews and Magnus Lindberg and studied at Tanglewood Music Centre with John Harbison, Michael Gandolfi, Shulamit Ran and Augusta Read-Thomas. Her music is published by Birdsong. She lives in Berlin.

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