The composer Charlotte Bray has emerged as a distinctive and outstanding talent of her generation. Exhibiting uninhibited ambition and desire to communicate, her music is exhilarating, inherently vivid, and richly expressive with lyrical intensity. Born in High Wycombe in 1982, Bray graduated from Birmingham Conservatoire with First Class Honours, having studied composition with Joe Cutler. She completed a Masters in Advanced Composition with Distinction from the Royal College of Music studying with Mark-Anthony Turnage and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Royal College of Music scholarship, The Countess of Munster Musical Trust and the RVW Trust. She went on to participate in the Britten-Pears Contemporary Composition Course with Oliver Knussen, Colin Matthews and Magnus Lindberg, and was awarded a scholarship to study at the Tanglewood Music Centre with John Harbison, Michael Gandolfi, Shulamit Ran and Augusta Read-Thomas.
Bray has been championed by numerous world-class ensembles and orchestras, including the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, London Sinfonietta, Britten Sinfonia, BCMG, the CBSO Youth Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra and large-scale pieces for the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Her work has featured at the BBC Proms, Aldeburgh, Cheltenham, Tanglewood, Aix-en-Provence, Verbier, West Cork and the Copenhagen Summer Festival. Several renowned conductors have performed her work and these include Sir Mark Elder, Oliver Knussen, Sakari Oramo, Daniel Harding and Jessica Cottis.
London Sinfonietta commissioned Bray to write Reflections In Time as part of their 50th anniversary season. The new ensemble work will premiere in May 2018. Later in the same month, Ralf Ehlers and Lucas Fels of the Arditti Quartet will premiere a new duo for viola and cello, Mid-Oceaned, commissioned by the Hepner Foundation in memory of Leo Hepner. A solo viola work commissioned by Aix-en-Provence Festival for Tabea Zimmerman sees its first performance in July. Earlier in 2018, Stone Dancer received its Scottish premiere with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Geoffrey Paterson.
2017 premieres included Voyage by The Nordic Saxophone Quartet (Torún, Poland); Bray’s second piano quartet Zustände, commissioned by The Schubert Ensemble (Stratford-on-Avon); Blaze and Fall, an Hommage to Kurtag, by the Jacquin Trio (London); and Chant commissioned by the Ducasse Trio. Also, performances of At the Speed of Stillness by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in the ISCM World Music Days Festival; and Black Rainbow by the DalaSinfonietta and Wermland Opera Orchestra (Falun and Karlstad, Sweden). Collaborating with the BBC Symphony Orchestra on two occasions in 2016, Stone Dancer premiered at Aldeburgh Festival under Oliver Knussen; and her cello concerto Falling in the Fire under Sakari Oramo with Guy Johnston in the BBC Proms. Exploring the work of the late Tim Hetherington, a renowned photo journalist, the latter is motivated by the composer’s endeavour to comprehend war and its impact on our world today.
2018 will see the release of Bray’s second recording, a disc of chamber works on the Richard Thomas Classical label. Recorded at the Sendesaal in Bremen, Germany, with the Amaryllis Quartet, the Mariani Piano Quartet and pianist Huw Watkins, the project is generously supported by PRS Foundation’s Composer Fund. At the Speed of Stillness, Bray’s debut recording on NMC Records was released in October 2014. Her work features also in 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).
In recognition of achievements and growing reputation, Bray was selected as a MacDowell Colony Norton Stevens Fellow (2015-16). She was interviewed as part of BBC Radio 3’s Composers’ Room series 2015. Bray is an Honorary Member of Birmingham Conservatoire and was named as their Alumni of the Year 2014 in the field of Excellence in Sport or the Arts. She was a winner of the Lili Boulanger Prize and a Critics’ Circle Award for Exceptional Young Talent (2014). Listed in The Evening Standard’s Most Influential Londoners (2011). Bray was awarded the 2010 Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize and appointed as apprentice Composer-in-Residence with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group/Sound and Music (2009/10). She was the inaugural Composer-in-Residence with Oxford Lieder Festival (2011) and Hatfield House Chamber Music Festival (2015). Residencies include the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire (2013 and 2015), the Liguria Study Centre in Bogliasco (2013), and Aldeburgh Music (2010 and 2015).