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Image for Sarah Brightman: A Christmas Symphony
Sarah Brightman: A Christmas Symphony
Sun, November 26, 2023

International singing superstar, Sarah Brightman is the world's biggest selling Soprano. She pioneered the classical crossover music movement and is famed for possessing a vocal range of over three octaves. Brightman is the only artist to have simultaneously topped the Billboard dance and classical music charts. Her voice has rung out from theatres, arenas, cathedrals, world heritage centers, and Olympic stadiums, bringing to life some of the world's most beautiful music. Brightman’s work transcends any specific musical genre, synthesizing many influences and inspirations into a unique sound and vision. Today, she remains among the world’s most prominent performers, with global sales of 30 million units, having received more than 180 gold and platinum awards in over 40 countries, garnering over 1 billion streams worldwide.

Born and raised in Berkhamsted, England, Brightman began singing and dancing at the age of three. She began her career as a member of the television dance troupe, Hot Gossip and released several successful disco hit singles as a solo performer. In 1981 Brightman made her West End musical theatre debut in Cats and met composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. She went on to star in several Broadway musicals, including the world-renowned The Phantom of the Opera, where she originated the role of Christine Daaé. In 1987, the Original London Cast Album of the musical was released in CD format and sold over 40 million copies worldwide, making it the biggest-selling cast album of all time. After many successful years on the musical stage Brightman decided to make a fresh start and resumed her music career with former Enigma co-producer Frank Peterson. Their first release, Dive (1993), was a water-themed pop album that featured “Captain Nemo,” a cover of a song by the Swedish electronica band Dive. The album gave Brightman her first success as a solo recording artist and garnered a Gold award for exceptional international sales. Brightman and Peterson’s second collaboration yielded the pop rock album Fly which catapulted her to fame across Europe with its hit track “A Question of Honor”—a mélange of electronic, rock, classical strings, and excerpts from the Alfredo Catalani opera La Wally. A subsequent single “Time to Say Goodbye”—which she performed as a duet with tenor Andrea Bocelli, became an international success selling 12 million copies worldwide. Later albums including Eden (1998) La Luna (2000), Harem (2003), and Symphony (2008) all became chart topping Billboard hits and were accompanied by live world tours.

The last several years have seen Brightman being invited to perform at high profile events around the world including the 2007 Concert for Diana where she performed with Josh Groban, and the Kennedy Center Honors. Brightman is the first artist to have been invited to perform the theme song at the Olympic Games on two occasions. The first was at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games where she sang “Amigos Para Siempre” with the Spanish tenor Jose Carreras with an estimated global audience of a billion people. Sixteen years later in Beijing, this time with Chinese singer Liu Huan, Brightman performed the song “You and Me” to an estimated four billion people worldwide.

Brightman has appeared in several films including Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008), a rock opera-musical film directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, and Stephen Evans' First Night (2011), starring opposite Richard E. Grant. In addition, she has formed her own production company, Instinct Films, where her first film is currently in pre-production.

In October 2011, Brightman made a special appearance during the finale of The Phantom of the Opera at The Albert Hall; a fully staged production performed at the famous London venue, which marked 25 years since the musical received its world premiere. Introduced as his “Angel of Music” by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Brightman performed the title song backed by five past, present, and future Phantoms. The grand production was broadcast live into cinemas around the globe to an audience of tens of thousands. On January 26th, 2013, Brightman made another guest appearance to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway in New York City at the Majestic Theatre.

Driven by passion, purpose, and a willingness to push her limits as an artist Brightman continues to grow and develop her career. In 2012, she accepted the UNESCO nomination to be an “Artist for Peace” Ambassador and actively engaged in Panasonic's UNESCO World Heritage Centre endeavors, and stars in their The World Heritage Special campaign. In 2021 Brightman once again renewed her Ambassadorship commitment with UNESCO in support of sustainable tourism.

On September 26, 2012, Brightman released the first track “Angel” from her highly anticipated new album, “Dreamchaser” which was released worldwide in April 2013 and debuted at #1 on the Classical soundscan charts (Canada/U.S.) and #5 (Canada) and #17 (U.S.) on the Billboard Top 200. Brightman’s “Dreamchaser” World Tour kicked off in China in 2013, touched upon five continents and included over 100 concert dates throughout 2013/2014.

On October 10, 2012, Brightman hosted a press conference in Moscow announcing her intention to launch a future orbital spaceflight mission to the International Space Station (ISS). In January 2015, Brightman began her extensive Cosmonaut training in Star City, Russia until May 2015, when she announced the postponement of her space flight plans for personal family reasons.

In addition to Brightman’s role as a Challenger Learning Center Advisory Board Member (2013) and Virgin Unite youth STEM scholarship benefactor (2012-2016), Brightman continues to advocate to advance education and empower the role of girls and women in science and technology to help close the gender gap in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. In July 2015, the inaugural Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation Sarah Brightman Music Scholarships were also awarded to their first recipients. The scholarships will support students in their postgraduate studies at the Royal Northern College of Music on the two-year Master of Music Programme.

On June 2, 2016, Brightman was bestowed the prestigious Italian decoration 'Cavaliere' in the Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana, by the Consul General of Italy, Francesco Genuardi. The private ceremony was held on the Festa della Repubblica Italiana (The Italian National Day) at the Consulate General of Italy in New York City.

In 2016, Brightman brought her glamorous “Gala – An Evening with Sarah Brightman” tour to Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, and Mexico. Not only did Brightman perform many of her greatest hits with various orchestras but also stepped from behind the microphone and embraced the role of conductor during these performances.

Brightman also accepted the honor as 'Godmother' of Seabourn’s newest vessel, Seabourn Encore, when the ship was named at the port of Singapore on January 7, 2017.

In late 2017, as part of the Royal Christmas Gala tour, Brightman entertained a 22-date tour across Europe. Brightman, together with Gregorian, Mario Frangoulis, Narcis, Fernando Varela, and other special guests, performed a festive holiday show with orchestra, in theatres and arenas across the continent.

In February 2018, Brightman joined in on the incredible milestone celebration of the 30th Anniversary of Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, at the Majestic Theatre. Brightman surprised the sold-out audience with a performance of the title song, supported by phantom Peter Joback during the finale.

In Shanghai, China on June 7, 2018, Brightman, together with Shanghai Media Group Live and Really Useful Group, announced that she would be joining a team of celebrity judges on the first ever-musical theatre casting TV show, which will be searching for first Chinese Phantom in 2020. The Chinese Phantom who is selected, will not only perform on stage in the Chinese production of The Phantom of the Opera, but also train and even possibly appear in London’s West End or the New York City Broadway production.

In recognition of her outstanding contribution to music and theatre, The University of Hertfordshire, the county in southern England where Brightman was raised, presented her with the degree of Honorary Doctor of Arts (Hon DArt) in September 2018. This honorary award was conferred during the commencement at the Cathedral and Abbey Church of Saint Alban.

Brightman returned to the recording studio in 2016, to begin working on her brand-new album HYMN with long time producer and collaborator Frank Peterson, which was released on November 9, 2018 and debuted at #1 on the Classical and Classical Crossover Billboard charts. In support of the release, Brightman engaged in the most adventurous world tour of her career. The critically acclaimed HYMN World Tour began in South America in September 2018 and included over 125 shows on five continents throughout 2021.

On November 15th, 2019, Brightman released her much anticipated HYMN In Concert film on DVD, Blu Ray, and Deluxe Special Editions (DVD/CD and Blu Ray/CD). HYMN: Sarah Brightman In Concert was captured from the Festspielhaus in the enchanted Bavarian Alps. Conceived and created by Sarah Brightman, Anthony Van Laast (“Mamma Mia”, “Beauty and the Beast”), and Frank Peterson, the two-act performance is a hybrid of a musical film and a large-scale concert production.

On June 18, 2020, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce announced the Class of 2021 honorees to receive ‘stars’ on the world-renowned Hollywood Walk of Fame. Brightman was chosen from among hundreds of nominations and was honored with a ‘STAR’ in recognition of her outstanding contribution within Live Theatre/Live Performance. Brightman’s ‘STAR’ was unveiled along Hollywood’s most majestic walkway in front of the Pantages Theatre on October 6, 2022.

On December 20, 2020 Brightman lit up the holidays with her first ever livestream concert event “A Christmas Symphony” from the historic Christ Church Spitalfields in London, UK.

Just as warming to the season as hot chocolate, Christmas cookies, and cozy blankets by a crackling fire, the show saw Brightman breathe new life into a bevy of holiday classics and beautiful festive fan favorites for the season. Together with orchestra and a chorister from Trinity College, Brightman invited special guests Aled Jones (the voice of “The Snowman”), choir Gregorian and also reunited with Andrew Lloyd Webber for a very special performance of “Christmas Dream,” a song written by Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. This holiday classic featured a beautiful new arrangement and was truly a memorable performance.

Brightman also partnered with The Global FoodBanking Network to fight hunger around the world. Amid the holiday celebrations, millions of people faced hardships from the economic and societal toll of COVID-19. Helping to provide relief to those in need, Brightman supported The Global FoodBanking Network to address food insecurity around the world. The Global FoodBanking Network alleviates hunger by advancing and uniting food banks in more than 40 countries.

During the 2021 holiday season, Brightman took her unforgettable Christmas spectacle “A Christmas Symphony” on the road for the very first time and received rave reviews from both critics and fans alike. Together with orchestra and choir, Brightman engaged in a 17-date U.S. tour which began on November 26th and ended in New Orleans, LA on December 21, 2021.

In honour of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee year, on May 27, 2022, Brightman together with Alfie Boe, the NHS Voices of Care Choir and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, released a new version of the UK’s national anthem, ‘God Save The Queen’ alongside a remastered recording of the anthem sung at Her Majesty’s 1953 coronation service in Westminster Abbey. Proceeds from this unique digital double A-Side single were donated in efforts to support the vital work of the British Red Cross, of which Her Majesty is a Patron.

In October of 2022, Brightman entertained her first exclusive Las Vegas engagement at The Venetian Resort. With this being her ONLY U.S. date of the year, fans traveled from around the world to be enchanted by “A Starlight Symphony…An Evening with Sarah Brightman.” This beautiful new show featured Brightman performing many of her greatest hits with orchestra, choir and special guest Japanese superstar and composer Yoshiki, alongside other guest performers. Following the engagement, “A Starlight Symphony” traveled to Mexico for several concert dates including Mexico City. This was Brightman’s first visit to the region since 2019.  

In November/December 2022, Brightman’s holiday tour, “A Christmas Symphony,” travelled internationally to Japan and Southeast Asia and was met with standing ovations and rave reviews.  Now an annual tradition, the 2023 “A Christmas Symphony” tour will return to North America for 22 enchanting shows beginning in Laval (Montreal), Quebec on November 21, concluding on December 20 in Sugar Land, TX.

Jay Dref


American tenor Jay Dref inspires us with his rich, passionate vocals. Born and raised in Buffalo, New York, Dref graduated from the prestigious Julliard School before launching his professional career as a classical crossover artist.

Most recently, Dref has been touring with legendary soprano Sarah Brightman. He was the featured tenor on her U.S. 2021 Christmas Symphony Tour. Dref continued to tour internationally with Ms. Brightman in 2022 with dates throughout Southeast Asia, Mexico, Las Vegas, Greece, and Turkey. He will again join her later this year when she performs in the United States and Canada (www.jaydref.com).

Dref collaborated with the songwriting team of Lauren Christy and Stephan Moccio on his first single “Taxi in the Rain.” Having worked with other artists such as Celine Dion, Avril Lavigne, and Shakira, among others, they publicly praised Dref as “the “best of the best” and a “really special singer.” In 2020, he released an original duet with Italian soprano Angelica Volpi, L'Amore e' un Attimo, which remains a popular choice on his digital music platforms.

Dref has performed for celebrities at private events and was a special guest of Bing Crosby’s son at a concert celebrating his famous father. He has also appeared at Live in the Vineyard, a national event for radio programmers held by invitation only in Napa Valley, California.

Musically fluent in five languages—English, French, Italian, German, and Russian – Dref’s transcendent voice resonates with listeners all over the world.


The Leist Family



NJ Arts Council