Originally from Aberdeen, Jillian Bain Christie moved to Glasgow at the age of 17 to study Fine Art Printmaking at the Glasgow School of Art. As part of her degree, she participated in an exchange programme with the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna (Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien), and spent three months living and working in the Austrian capital. This experience would prove to be an extremely influential one. Not only did it influence the direction of Jillian’s subsequent artwork, but also, evenings spent at the Vienna State Opera and Volksoper introduced her properly to opera, a genre with which she had not engaged fully before.
Upon graduating from Glasgow, Jillian was awarded an Andrew Grant Scholarship, enabling her to pursue a Master’s degree in Illustration at Edinburgh College of Art. During her time living in Edinburgh, she discovered singing. It would quickly become an integral part of her life.
After working for several years as an artist, Jillian decided to concentrate on music full time. Studying with soprano Irene Drummond, Jillian graduated from the University of Aberdeen in July 2012 with a 1st Class honours degree in Music. While in Aberdeen, Jillian was awarded the Esther Salaman Memorial Bursary and the Daphne Pearce Bursary, which enabled her to attend Dartington International Summer School where she participated in masterclasses with Dame Josephine Barstow, Jessica Cash, Nicolas Clapton, Dame Emma Kirkby, Yvonne Minton, Matthew Rose, Richard Edgar Wilson and Stephen Varcoe. In May 2011 she was joint winner of the University’s inaugural Concerto Competition. She was also awarded the Chris Cadwur James Composition Prize in June 2012.
Upon graduation from Aberdeen, Jillian moved to London to commence post graduate studies at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance as a Trinity College of Music and Helen Roll scholar, under the tutelage of Joan Rodgers and Linda Hirst. Specialising in contemporary repertoire and Nordic song, she completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Vocal Performance in 2013, and a Master of Fine Art in Creative Performance Practice in July 2014, attaining distinctions in both courses. Jillian continues to study privately with Joan Rodgers.
Jillian’s solo concert and oratorio experience includes Canteloube’s Chants d’Auvergne, Fauré’s Requiem, Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3, Händel’s Messiah, Mahler’s 4th Symphony, Paul Mealor’s Stabat Mater, Mozart’s Requiem and Great Mass in C Minor, Poulenc’s Gloria, and Schoenberg’s Second String Quartet. Operatic experience includes Marn (The Maiden Stone), Cherubino (The Marriage of Figaro), Zerlina (Don Giovanni), Micäela (Carmen), Wealhþeow (Beowulf) and Queen of the Night (Die Zauberflöte). Operatic scenes performed include Vitellia (La clemenza di Tito), Anne Trulove (The Rake’s Progress), Despina (Così fan tutte) and Frasquita (Carmen).
In addition to opera, Jillian has several other areas of interest. She is committed to the promotion of contemporary classical music and regularly gives first performances of works by living composers. Interpreting a piece for the first time when there is no legacy of recordings and previous performances presents a challenge which Jillian finds extremely satisfying. She has worked several times with the American composer Morten Lauridsen, most recently in November 2016 when performing his song cycle Cuatro Canciones with the Spectrum Ensemble of Aberdeen. She enjoys a close working relationship with her former composition professor, the composer Paul Mealor, and has had the privilege of premiering many of his compositions, both as a chorister and as a soloist, in concert and on four recordings. It was a particular delight and honour to take part in the first performances of Paul’s choral work Praise with the Rodolfus choir, singing the soprano solo in the second movement which is dedicated to Jillian and her husband Brian.
Scandinavian song and research into the correlation between visual art and music continue to be of significant influence upon Jillian’s working practice as both artist and musician. Her final MFA events featured multi disciplinary works incorporating electroacoustic composition and installation as well as song repertoire. In addition to exhibiting and singing, the creation of multi media performance pieces which occupy the grey area between music and visual art is a genre which Jillian hopes to pursue further.
Recent highlights include representing Trinity Laban in the 2015 ELIA NOW Festival, Amsterdam, premiering the soprano solo in Paul Mealor’s Symphony No. 1 ‘Passiontide’ with the Orchestra of Scottish Opera and James Jordan, a solo album of songs by Robert Burns entitled Ae spark o’ Nature’s fire with pianist Catherine Herriott, and Stockhausen’s Stimmung at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, with Trinity Laban Soloists and Gregory Rose.
Forthcoming projects include a solo exhibition at the Barbican Library, London, performances in Helsingborg, London and Glasgow, and residencies on the Åland Islands, Finland, and as part of the JAM on the Marsh Festival 2017.