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, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, London Symphony Orchestra, the CBSO Youth Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Scottish 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.
In May 2021 the WDR Sinfonieorchester under Cristian Măcelaru premiered Where Icebergs Dance Away in the Philharmonie Köln. February 2021 saw the premiere of The Flight of Bitter Water under Yuri Bashmet with the Youth Symphony Orchestra at the Winter International Arts Festival in Sochi. The piece is co-commissioned by ORF Wien, who will give the European Premiere under Maren Alsop in February 2022. Commissioned by ECHO for their Rising Stars programme, This other Eden (oboe and piano) was premiered by Cristina Gómez Godoy and Mario Häring in January 2021 and subsequently toured around the major concert halls of Europe.
Recent highlights include: 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; Red Swans Floating (June 2019), notabu.ensemble and Spectra Ensemble, Tonhalle Düsseldorf; Bring Me All Your Dreams (June 2019), Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Aldeburgh Festival; Reflections In Time (May 2018), London Sinfonietta; Mid-Oceaned (viola and cello, May 2018), Ralf Ehlers and Lucas Fels (Arditti Quartet), Hepner Foundation; In Black Light (July 2018), Tabea Zimmerman, Aix-en-Provence Festival.
Bray’s second recording (October 2018), a disc of chamber works on the Richard Thomas Classical label, with the Amaryllis Quartet, the Mariani Piano Quartet and pianist Huw Watkins, 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 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).
At the Speed of Stillness featured in the ISCM World Music Days Festival, Vancouver, 2017. 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).