Opera singer Charlotte Richardson credits a kindly nun called Sister Bernard with setting her on the career path that has led to international acclaim.
The former Thornton College Convent schoolgirl – who appeared as Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Blackheath Halls last week – said: “I was six when I became fascinated with the violin after another pupil started playing.
“The school lent me a violin and Sister Bernard offered to teach me.
“When she retired I went to Milton Keynes Council Music Service where I sang in the choir and played in the orchestra as well as a string quartet.”
Charlotte, 31, who grew up in Mill Lane, Great Brickhill, also learned the viola and harp. Singing came later – almost by accident.
She recalled: “When I was 16 my music teacher asked me to sing a melody I couldn’t master on the violin.
“She was very surprised by the sound that came out.
“The school organised for me to go on a choral course and the next thing I knew I was applying for a gap year choral scholarship at Christchurch Cathedral Dublin.”
It was one of the many scholarship and bursaries that have enabled Charlotte to make a living doing something she loves.
She was becoming increasingly interested in opera when she won a scholarship to London’s Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance.
Charlotte explained: “Singing choral music and opera require very different vocal skills and I knew I would have to retrain if I wanted to become an opera singer.”
One of her tutors realised her potential and offered her the scholarship which, in turn, has led to one at the Royal Northern College of Music which she will take up later this year.
She has performed all over the world and has toured with Irish national choir Anuna, of Riverdance fame, as well as the Philharmonia Chorus and Blossom Street Singers.
She’s currently focused on contemporary opera and is working with composer Caitlin Rowley.
Charlotte lives in South London with her software engineer partner Adrian.
They’re both into rock climbing and dream of owning a miniature dachshund.