Photo: Sam Mooy Source: News Limited
Just over a year ago, the national vocal ensemble The Song Company set off on an international search to find a new mezzo soprano to fill its ranks.
Their search took them as far away as Europe; they needed only to go to Armidale, in northern NSW. There lived Hannah Fraser, recent graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and granddaughter of former prime minister Malcolm Fraser.
On February 22, she will make her debut at a concert in Sydney's Blue Mountains.
"I feel very lucky to actually have a job as a singer, it's what I love doing," Fraser said.
The 23-year-old grew up on a property outside Armidale and first discovered her love of singing when she was 11 years old, performing her sister's original compositions in "muck-around videos". She quickly discovered her preference for classical over popular music.
"I went to the Armidale Eisteddfod and sang music from Disney's Pocahontas, but I wasn't very good," she said. "I like singing classical music because the audiences are more sophisticated and you get to wear a big ball gown. It's all very elegant."
Fraser counts many family members as sources of musical support and inspiration, her grandfather among them. "He's just my grandfather really, I don't see him as a big politician or anything," she said. "He and Gran came to my final recital at the Conservatorium, and I'm sure he'll come to some of our upcoming concerts."
Based in Sydney, The Song Company celebrates its 30th anniversary this year with a program inspired by fire, completing a four-year cycle of elemental themes including earth, water and air. The Fire of Love, featuring music from the madrigals of Marenzio to songs by Bon Iver and Pink, will mark Fraser's debut.
"Before I started rehearsals I was a bit nervous, but they are all such lovely people and so talented, they have been very inclusive," she said.
"I am trying to embrace it and work as hard as I can."
Since moving to Sydney, Fraser has developed divided loyalties between the buzz of the big city and the peace and quiet of life in regional NSW.
"I appreciate the country much more since I left, I go back whenever I can," she said. "Though I'm not sure I would move back ... actually, I would like to live and work in London one day."