I first came across Katherine Bryan a few years ago when, fast approaching my own Grade 8 Flute exam, I was suddenly horrified to realise that as much as I love playing the flute, I had no knowledge of any professional flautist to whom I could attribute my dedication to the instrument. Therefore, after a frantic and curious whip through Google, I came across Katherine Bryan. Born in 1982, she, delightfully, is a fellow British flautist and is currently principal flautist in the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, a position she has held since 2003 when she was just 21. Still only 37, she already has a highly distinguished resumé, having been educated at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester. Whilst there, she became the only wind player to ever win the Audi Young Musician competition, as well as being a woodwind finalist in the BBC TV Young Musicians competition in 1998, 2000 and 2002. In addition, she became a prize winner in the 1999 Royal Overseas League Competition, later that year earning the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Julius Isserlis Scholarship, which enabled her to study at the world-famous Juilliard School in New York.
In 2001, Bryan gave her Lincoln Centre debut playing Mozart’s Flute concerto in G major (one of my Grade 8 pieces!) with the Juilliard Symphony Orchestra after winning the Juilliard concerto competition. After her graduation, she went on to perform with The New York Philharmonic Orchestra, The Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra, and The Pacific Music Festival Orchestra in Japan.
Today, Bryan continues to perform regularly around Britain and internationally. In addition to her position with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, she has performed as Guest Principal Flute with orchestras including the Halle, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Northern Sinfonia, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra. On top of all this, Bryan is also a lecturer of flute at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and runs her own course, Scottish Masterclasses.
In 2017, Bryan released an enchanting album, aptly named Silver Voice, which consists of famous classical pieces, transcribed for solo flute empathetically accompanied by orchestra. Of these works, Bryan has said ‘I want to show that the flute is more than many people think it is… People think of the flute as lightweight emotionally and a bit limited, but there is so much you can do with the different colours of sound.’ And as a flautist myself I could not agree with this more. Every song in Silver Voice is fantastically beautiful and played with such tenderness that one can feel the emotion flowing from each and every note, a true goose-bump inducer. The entire album is completely worth every second of listening time, but to pick a few songs that are particular high points, I would suggest ‘Die lustige Witwe: Vilja Song’ for a delicate, flowing listen, ‘Roméo et Juliette’, ‘CG 9: Je veux vivre’ for a wonderfully regal-sounding, jaunty waltz, and ‘O mio babbino caro’ which is a particularly moving encounter. Overall, I can very much say I am delighted to have come across Bryan who I can now say in an inspiration in every possible way to me, and a truly charming and talented flautist. A real credit to British music.