Exclusive Interview with Greta Bradman

What is your favourite work on the Bradman and the Baroque program and why?

That is a tough question! I really love different works for different reasons. That's not meant to be a cop-out! But its the balance of florid and passionate to plaintive and reflective that I love. If I had to pick one.. you really can't go past the Handel aria "what passion cannot music raise and quell" - the gorgeous cello obligato line in the introduction, here played so beautifully by Alistair on organ, along with the message of the work and the melody in the voice.. pretty close to heaven really!

 Did you sing in choirs when you were younger? What influence do you think it had on your love of singing?

My background is in choral singing. I went to a music school because my parents and grandparents had great respect for their choir and wanted me to sing in it. I sang a heap of solos as well as chorister fare and that was my 'training' in singing before I went to the Elder Conservatorium and studied for my Bachelor of Music degree. All through uni, I sang with the Adelaide Chamber Singers as well as many other choirs around Adelaide (my home town back then) and my musicianship, sense of interpretation, approach to learning and reading music - so many things - hark back to that training. I have a deep affinity and love for choral music and choral singing. That is one massive reason why I love working with choirs so much now as a soloist.

 What do you get from singing with other singers that you don’t get from singing with instrumentalists?

A different sense of ensemble and feeling the line together. A sense of mutual camaraderie and understanding, which I really love.

 You recently gave up a very different career as a psychologist. What kind of things did you have to change to follow your dream of being a ‘full-time’ musician, and is there anything you miss about having a day job?

Being a 'full-time' musician is like running a business, and though I have an absolutely fabulous management team and record label, everything comes back to me.. so its really busy! I miss being able to schedule time off for a holiday months in advance rather than years in advance!

 You’re going with the Choir of St James’ to Bowral to give a concert in the town where your grandfather grew up. He was a lover of music, and you have recorded on a CD of his favourite pieces for the ABC. Did he encourage your music making when you were younger? Do you come from a musical family?

Grandpa was actually a boy soprano soloist at St Jude's Church where I will be singing in Bowral, and my great grandmother was the organist there - so lots of family connections. My grandpa and grandma (who I called 'Lulla') both grew up around Bowral (Lulla coming from Mittagong) and both came from very musical families. They both encouraged me enormously with my music when I was a little girl. Lulla would sing with me, Grandpa would play the piano for me and with me and listen to old recordings with me. My dad is an incredible musician - one of those seriously talented individuals who only has to look at an instrument and to hear him play you'd swear he'd been playing it for years. My mum's dad was an opera singer too and I remember pedaling away at his old pianola while he sang Gilbert and Sullivan arias. Wonderful memories. I was surrounded by music growing up!

Does St James’, King St, have special significance for you? 

Back in late 2009 Warren allowed me to present a lunch hour recital in St James. It was at the very beginning of my journey towards a full-blown career in music. I boldly invited some lovely folk from nearby Sony Music along, amongst others, and that concert was the catalyst of my recording contract with them. For that reason, St James will always hold extremely fond and special memories for me. 

You have already recorded a number of CDs on the Sony Classics label. Are you planning to release again soon? What other exciting projects are coming up for you this year?

I have learnt a huge amount about myself as a musician and about the music world over the past couple of years. This year, I'll present concerts in every Australian state (and the ACT) working with orchestras, ensembles and choirs, and later in the year I begin my first overseas engagements in Europe and the Asia Pacific. A new chapter of this wonderful musical journey. I'm currently working on my next recording project - it is incredibly dear to my heart and I cannot wait to share it with you! 

Janine Harris - in conversation with Greta Bradman

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