East Anglian classical star Christina Johnston comes to Norfolk
PUBLISHED: 15:37 10 October 2017
The coloratura soprano has just released her debut classical album, Blessing, which she’s dreamt of making since she was a 14-year-old at Framlingham College, and now arrives in King’s Lynn and Norwich as part of her debut UK tour.
Framlingham can boast one international star in the shape of Ed Sheeran and now you can add another to that thanks to the success of classical star Christina Johnston
Her debut classical album, Blessing, which she’s dreamt of making since she was a 14-year-old at Framlingham College, has just been released.
Now based in Prague, the coloratura soprano has already been making a name for herself in the classical world with her vocal range that most could only dream of.
She has already had solo tours in Europe, Asia and South America, as well as singing in major opera houses and performing for some high profile world leaders, presidents and state officials.
The got her love of singing from her father. He didn’t live to see her become a rising star on the classical scene, dying when she was just 11. Every day, she strives to be the best she can for him.
And to celebrate the release of Blessing, recorded with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, Christina has been touring East Anglia with her The Miracle of The Voice tour, which brings her to Norfolk for concerts in King’s Lynn and Norwich this week.
You have just released your debut album, Blessing. That must be exciting?
It has been a long time coming. I have wanted to do an album of beautiful music since I was about 15. It is about getting the opportunity though and I never really had anyone suggest it before, if difficult if you don’t know people in the right places. But while I was singing in Prague, James Fitzpatrick, my producer, who previously discovered Lesley Garrett, heard me and he thought there was a gap in the market for a singer like myself. He sat he down and came up with the idea for the album.
How did you come to choose the pieces of music on the album?
I chosen songs that I’ve loved since I was a kid or that I’ve performed before at concerts around the world or in opera houses. They have all touched my heart and I believe will touch other people’s hearts.
The Miracle of the Voice is a 10-date tour that brings you to King’s Lynn and Norwich. What can we expect?
It’s basically a beautiful concert of music from my album but also a few pieces that aren’t but that I wanted to bring to the general public. They are pieces that I have chosen that are quite easy listening but will appeal across the board including to people who are used to listening to classical work. I am being accompanied by Inga Goldsmith who is a famous Russian pianist. She has played at the Marinski Theatre in St Petersburg, worked with conductors like Valery Gergiev and has even played for Plácido Domingo.
Had you worked with Inga Goldsmith before?
My original pianist from the Royal Opera House, who I did a concert with in June, was busy, so I randomly typed in ‘pianists in East Anglia’ into Google and she came up. As soon as I realised how good she was I was keen to work with her. She is amazingly talented. She will be doing three solo pieces of her own. It has been lovely to work with her.
The tour has been 10-dates all in East Anglian and all churches, cathedrals and religious buildings. Why this region and those venues?
Because I’ve made a name for myself in Europe already I’m not really known in the UK yet. Starting with this tour in East Anglia was purely because it is where I’m from and hopefully more people will know me through word of mouth. I want to make them proud and see I’m proud to be part of East Anglia. I chose to do churches or cathedrals because the acoustics are fantastic. Because my voice is very much like a bird, when I go to the high notes they ping off the walls in these buildings. Next year we hope to do a cathedral tour around the rest of England.
Where did you get your love of singing from?
My father used to play the guitar and taught me piano as well. He used to sing a lot and lead the worship at church. He encouraged me to sing all the time, so I was always singing probably because of him. When he died it pushed me even further into music.
Your music roots are in this region. How did it help you develop as a singer?
Because I went to Framlingham College I was part of the chamber choir there and I also used to sing as a soloist with the Suffolk Singers. I used to sing all over the place and I think growing up and starting my music career in East Anglia was a real blessing actually. Sometimes I feel I’m just this little girl from Framlingham. Who would’ve imagined I would be in China, singing to the president...
You moved to Prague where you got your big break though. How did that come about?
I moved there nearly seven years ago when I got married and my husband had a business out there. Though I already had an agency in London and had already planned where I was going, then it all turned upside down when I moved. It was actually a blessing in disguise because I auditioned for Prague State Opera and I got in as a young artist and a year later I was debuting as Queen of the Night [in The Magic Flute]. Things really took off because the Czech Republic is quite a small place and the music business is even smaller and I was the only British singer out there so I got to be known pretty quickly.
• Christina Johnston: The Miracle of the Voice will be at St Nicholas’ Chapel, King’s Lynn, on October 13, 7pm, £15, 01394380788, stnicholaskingslynn.org.uk
• She will also be performing at St Peter Mancroft, Norwich, on October 14, 7pm, £16, ticketline.co.uk/christina-johnston
• Blessing is out now on Tadlow Classics