JUDY BROWN

MEZZO-SOPRANO

Born and raised in Edinburgh, Judy Brown received her early musical training as a chorister at St Mary's Music School, where she had lessons with Margaret Aronson. She read music at the University of Edinburgh, where she was a finalist in the Donald Tovey Memorial Prize and became the first female alto lay clerk to be appointed to the choir of St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral.

While in Scotland Judy studied with Patricia MacMahon and sang in concert with the Tallis Scholars in the East Neuk Festival, with the Dunedin Consort in the Festival Internacional de Músiques de Torroella de Montgrí, and participated in the Taipei International Choral Festival, Taiwan. As a soloist she sang Handel's Messiah for Sospiro Baroque, Rossini's Petite Messe Solenelle for the Scottish Chamber Choir and Bach's Christmas Oratorio for the St Magnus Festival Chorus under Martyn Brabbins.

In 2012 Judy participated in the Crear Mastercourse and is one of Malcolm Martineau’s Crear Scholars. She was awarded the Bucher Fraser Scholarship for postgraduate study by the University of Edinburgh, was generously supported by the Trufflehunter fund and the Sir Richard Stapley Trust, and was the inaugural recipient of the Von Ibler - Innes Schola Cantorum of Edinburgh award to help her pursue postgraduate study in London. She has recently graduated with a Masters in vocal performance from The Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where she studied with Susan Waters.

Her repertoire ranges from the contemporary - Spirit Harbour, Lliam Paterson, Tête-à-Tête opera festival; 5 Acts of Harry Patch, Peter Maxwell-Davies, Grosvenor Chapel; Six Celan Songs, Michael Nyman, Barbican, James MacMillan's Seven Last Words from the Cross - to early music - Charpentier’s Les Plaisirs de Versailles, London Handel Festival; Buxtehude's Jesu Membra Nostri, Ross-on-Wye Festival, the SSAA version of Vivaldi's Gloria in St John's Smith Square for International Women's Day – and she works with a variety of ensembles in London, Scotland and further afield. Judy has sung at the Proms with both the Academy of Ancient Music and the Dunedin Consort, both of whom she sings for regularly.

Solo recital projects have included Wagner, Strauss and Mahler in the Edinburgh International Festival as part of Songlines, music by composers and poets of WW1 in St Martin-in-the-Fields, contemporary settings of Shakespeare sonnets for Song in the City and a selection of lieder by Hans Gál at the request of the Hans Gál Society. She sings with the City Bach Collective and the Kellie Consort, presenting solo Bach cantatas with period chamber ensembles. Work with larger ensembles includes Britten’s Phaedra with William Conway and Edinburgh University String Orchestra, new organ-transcription performances of Mahler's 3rd Symphony and Elgar’s Sea Pictures with David Briggs and Simon Nieminski, and Michael Nyman’s Six Celan Songs with the Masque Collective as part of Barbican’s Contemporary Music season.

On stage she has sung the role of  Mrs Noye in Noye's Fludde, Juno in both Handel’s Semele and Charpentier’s Actéon changé en biche, performed in a new music and theatre piece Why does the Queen die? by Iain Burnside (revived after a successful premiere at the Oxford Lieder Festival) and played a fox and a Japanese warrior in the 2014  Tête-à-Tête opera festival. In Opera Magazine her performance in the role of Äbtissin in Hans Gál's opera Das Lied der Nacht in the Queens Hall, Edinburgh was highlighted; "contralto Judy brown lent distinction ... brought all the requisite steadiness, purity, dignity and command."

She has sung in masterclasses with Sarah Walker, Eugene Asti, Amanda Roocroft and most recently with Estonian voice improvisation expert Anne-Liis Poll, and receives coaching from Graeme Danby and contralto Hilary Summers.

Recent engagements include Bach Cantata O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort with the City Bach Collective, St Mary-at-Hill, Mozat Requiem for the Hill Singers, Dvorak Mass in D with Streatham Choral Society, a return to St Giles Cathedral Edinburgh for Handel & Bach in their Candlelit Hogmanay concert and Handel's Messiah for Edinburgh Royal Choral Union under the baton of Benjamin Bayl in the Usher Hall.

Plans for 2018 include Rutter's Feel the Spirit for ESMS in Edinburgh and also for Barnes Choral Society, alongside Constant Lambert's rarely performed Rio Grande; work with Academy of Ancient Music and Dunedin Consort and, for the first time, with the Monteverdi Choir under Sir John Eliot Gardiner; a late-night lieder recital in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, a trip to Orkney for the Orcadian premiere of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies' The Birds with the St Andrews New Music Ensemble, and a recital of the lieder of Hans Gal in the Queen's Hall Edinburgh with pianist Sarah Beth Briggs this September.

 

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Photo credit: Hugh Beauchamp