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Hear the magical voice of Christina Johnston in your own home

PUBLISHED: 19:02 15 May 2020 | UPDATED: 08:59 16 May 2020

Christina Johnston

Christina Johnston

Archant

Gina Long talks to Christina Johnston, the Coloratura Soprano about life in lockdown. Christina streams live concerts on her social media channels and will even take requests

Christina JohnstonChristina Johnston

In January, a dear friend with exceptionally good taste in music introduced me to Suffolk born Coloratura Soprano Christina Johnston ‘the most beautiful woman, with the most beautiful voice’.

Just a few short weeks ago, Christina was preparing for her busiest year to date.

From debuting at the renowned Snape Maltings to performing at the Proms, the Suffolk soprano had every reason to look ahead to 2020 with huge optimism.

When the coronavirus pandemic sent shockwaves across the world, a beautiful voice - and soul to match - was sadly not immune.

Christina JohnstonChristina Johnston

Christina admitted that she, like many other musicians, was living hand-to-month and faced an uncertain few months.

Dusting herself down, and joining forces with top sound engineer Richard Garrett, Christina decided to showcase her talent digitally and perform weekly ‘Classical Suffolk’ nights from her home at Old Felixstowe.

While it was very much ‘the show must go on’, Christina admitted that performing at the new venue required some new skills.

She said: “I have an outbuilding that one day I was hoping to convert into a music studio. So when lockdown happened, we decided to create a mini-concert hall, big enough to observe social distancing rules.

“I have never sung without an audience so the first time was very strange. But I have really enjoyed performing and adapting to this new way of entertaining people.

“I can interact with the audience throughout the concert. Which, in normal circumstances, I can’t do as someone will introduce me, I walk out, sing, bow and walk off.

“Here I can talk throughout the concert - it is far more relaxing for me and the audience.”

Growing up in Framlingham, vivacious, energetic, Christina with her powerful voice has always dreamed of a career on the stage. She moved away from Suffolk when she was 21 years old after being accepted into the Young Artists programme at The State Opera in Prague.

A year later, she found a fan in the President of the Czech Republic, where she performed at many state occasions and for many visiting Heads of State, one of whom was the President of China. She was later invited to perform for the President and his guests in China, at an event to mark the end of World War Two.

The accolades – and countries – continued with Christina performing all over Europe, Asia, and South America before producing a debut album in 2017 and being nominated for a Classical Brit Award for Sound of Poll Under 30s just a year later.

With her star in the ascendancy, she was chosen by legendary Spanish tenor, Jose Carreras, to join him on his farewell tour.

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As with everyone, the coronavirus crisis initially put life on hold as we all struggled to come to terms with the pandemic.

But it didn’t take long for Christina to explore other ways to pursue her passion.

She explained: “I saw a post from a nursing home at the beginning of March that was asking if anyone could come and sing to the residents as they were all so sad at not having any friends or family being able to visit.

“I replied straight away and asked Richard Garrett if he would help me with the sound.

“We were messaged by so many nursing homes, which meant visiting many others around Suffolk every day singing to residents.

“Unfortunately, when lockdown happened, we had to stop them as it was non-essential travel.”

It was then that Christina decided to do something even closer to home.

With Richard’s help, she converted an outbuilding at her home with lighting, equipment, staging, backdrops, and sound equipment – and the ‘Classical Suffolk’ live streaming concerts were born.

“We are on our fourth concert and they are proving quite popular,” Christina said. “We’ve had visitors from Beirut, Japan, all over the United States, Australia, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Denmark - the list goes on and on.

“It’s just amazing to be able to perform to people all over the world and not just in one concert hall.”

“The concerts are all streamed live on the ‘Classical Suffolk’ Facebook page and my YouTube channel every Friday at 7pm.

“Each week has a different theme. So far, we have had a night at the movies, VE Day, and a Disney evening.”

To support themselves through the crisis, Christina and Richard have also launched a GoFundMe fundraising page enabling audiences to donate money in support of their performance. To date, the page has raised almost £2,000.

Christina added: “Everyone has been so generous. It’s a lot of hard work, but if it brings people joy then it makes everything all the more worthwhile.

“It has been wonderful moving back to Suffolk and settling in Old Felixstowe. I have never been prouder to be part of such a wonderful and kind community.”

To view the performances on Friday, visit Classical Suffolk’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/classicalsuffolk

or Christina’s YouTube Channel at www.youtube.com/TheChristinaJohnston

Christina and Richard’s GoFundMe page can be found at www.gofundme.com/f/classical-suffolk

See also: www.christinajohnstonofficial.com or on Instagram @christinajohnstonofficial

Message her and she’ll even take requests to perform your favourite songs.


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