Mezzo-soprano singer Katie Bray is representing England in the Cardiff Singer of the World competition this June. Before she does, though, the Exeter-born singer is previewing her award-winning song programme at Blackheath Halls this Friday, May 24, accompanied by her musical partner William Vann on piano, writes Holly O’Mahony…
Katie began singing at a young age, inspired by French vocalist Édith Piaf, American musical queen Judy Garland, and her own mother’s “beautiful voice”. Now a singer in her own right, Katie has performed with several prestigious companies, including the English National Opera and Scottish Opera.
Katie met her now musical partner William in 2008, when the pair were both students at the Royal Academy of Music. “Since that time, we’ve been very firm friends and a regular musical duo,” she says. “We were supported by the Josephine Baker Trust for many years, which gave us the opportunity to perform regular recitals all over the country.” Among their recent recitals was a performance at the Pizza Express Jazz Club in Chelsea, where they explored their favourite Kurt Weill songs.
Katie’s performance at Blackheath Halls this Friday is a strictly classical affair. Among the 14 pieces being performed are Handel’s ‘Where shall I fly?’, Britten’s ‘A Charm’ and Mozart’s ‘Smanie Implacabili’ (from his Cosi fan tutte).
After the Blackheath concert, it’s the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition for Katie. How does she feel about representing England? “I am equally thrilled and terrified at the prospect!” she says, modestly. “It’s an international singing competition that has been running since 1983. Many fantastic singers and pianists have been involved in it over the years, and it’s a huge surprise to me to have been selected.”
If you’re keen to hear Katie and William perform live, their recital at Blackheath Halls might be your last chance for a while. The duo have no further recitals planned in south east London right now, but Katie reassures us they’re likely to continue collaborating together for many years. “I’ve no doubt this partnership will continue… keep your eyes peeled for more from us!” she says.
Katie Bray and William Vann are performing in the Recital Room at Blackheath Halls, 23 Lee Road, Blackheath, London SE3 9RQ. May 24 at 8pm. Admission: £10/ £8 concessions.