Charlotte Bray

The young English composer, Charlotte Bray, has emerged as one of the leading composers of her generation. Her debut recording was released by NMC Records in 2014 and she has a busy schedule of commissions ahead of her. To date, she has written one work for oboe entitled ‘Late Snow’.

Late Snow (solo oboe)

Written in 2009, Late Snow was inspired by the poem of the same name. The first movement sets the text of the poem as its melodic line – a song without words, or at least with the words subdued. Fragments of the poem are then used as my muse for the following movements.

Late Snow

An end. Or a beginning.
Snow had fallen and covered
the old dredge and blakened mush
with a gleaming pelt; but high up there
in the sycamore top, Thaw
Thaw, the rooks cried,
sentinel by ruined nests.

Water was slacking into runnels
from drifts and pitted snowbacks,
dripping from the gutted and ragged
icicle fingers. Snow paused
in the shining embrace of bushes,
waiting in ledged curds and bluffs
to tumble into soft explosions.

And suddenly your absence
drove home its imperatives like frost,
and I ran to the high field
clumsily as a pregnant woman
to tread our names in blemished
brilliant drifts; because the time we have
is shrinking away like snow.

M.R. Peacocke


Click here to buy sheet music

For more information about this piece directly from Charlotte Bray, please visit her website here.

A recording of Late Snow by James Turnbull is due for release later in 2015 on the Champs Hill Records label.

About Charlotte Bray

Charlotte has written for some of the world’s top musicians and ensembles, including the London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble 360, Britten Sinfonia, London Sinfonietta, The Dover Quartet, Albany and Oberon Trio’s, Claire Booth, Lucy Schaufer, Jennifer Pike, Lawrence Power, Isang Enders, Johannes Thorell, Julien Quentin, Huw Watkins, and Mona Asuka Ott; and festivals, namely BBC Proms, Aldeburgh, Cheltenham, Savannah, Aix-en-Provence, Festspiele Europäische Wochen Passau, Festival 3B, and Verbier. Conductors who have performed her work include Sir Mark Elder, Oliver Knussen, Daniel Harding, and Jac van Steen.

This year her chamber opera Entanglement will receive its premiere from Nova Music Opera. Charlotte is collaborating with librettist Amy Rosenthal on the story of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in Britain. Also to be premiered in 2015, Out of the Ruins, commissioned by the Royal Opera House Covent Garden for their youth company, mezzo soprano and orchestra; Come Away for the Chester Cathedral Choir; and a new work for cellist Guy Johnston.

Born in Britain in 1982, Charlotte studied at Birmingham Conservatoire under Joe Cutler, and the Royal College of Music with Mark Anthony Turnage. She participated in the Britten-Pears Contemporary Composition Course in 2007 with Oliver Knussen, Colin Matthews, and Magnus Lindberg; and at Tanglewood Music Centre in 2008 with John Harbison, Michael Gandolfi, Shulamit Ran and Augusta Read-Thomas.

Awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize 2010 resulted in a piano quartet commission for Cheltenham International Music Festival for which Charlotte wrote Replay. Appointed apprentice Composer-in-Residence with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group/Sound and Music for 2009/10, during which time she wrote her chamber violin concerto Caught in Treetops, premiered by Alexandra Wood and Oliver Knussen. As inaugural Composer-in-Residence with Oxford Lieder Festival 2011 Charlotte composed a new baritone cycle for Roderick Williams. She was awarded a prestigious MacDowell Colony Fellowship and was in residence at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire from late July until early September 2013. Following this she was resident at the Liguria Study Centre having been awarded a Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship. Her orchestral work At the Speed of Stillness, commissioned by the BBC Proms in 2012 and premiered by the Aldeburgh World Orchestra conducted by Sir Mark Elder, received its US première in July 2014 at Tanglewood’s Festival of Contemporary Music under Karina Canellakis. Charlotte 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 also winner of the 2014 Lili Boulanger Prize.

At the Speed of Stillness, Charlotte’s debut recording on NMC Records, was released in October 2014.