Note: This review is from the 2019 Fringe
Ciara Harvie is the 21 year old classical singer from Longniddry who you may recognise from her 2017 appearance on The Voice. Singing Nessun Dorma, she unfortunately didn’t get a chair turn. However, she so impressed the coaches they technically broke the rules by bringing her back on stage. She’s busked at the Fringe before, but she’s now preparing to make her “official” Fringe debut with three concerts at St Andrew’s and St George’s West. We spoke to her to find out a little more… 

What’s the first thing you remember singing and how old were you?

I never knew I could sing at all until I was about 14 years old. I am naturally a very shy person so the idea of singing in front of anyone frightened me a lot! I wasn’t sure if I was any good or not, so I got my dad’s phone and recorded myself to give to my family to have listen. They didn’t believe it was me! For a long time after that people would have to turn their backs before I would sing, until my first performance in public at the final of Edinburgh’s Got Talent at the Festival Theatre. I knew then that singing was something I was determined to pursue.

Who was the first performer which made you think “I want to sing like that”?

I was first inspired to try singing when I saw a 10 year old girl called Jackie Evancho sing O Mio Babbino Caro on America’s Got Talent. I loved the way it sounded and wanted to give it a go for myself. I went onto YouTube and listened to many other classical singers such as Andrea Bocelli and Katherine Jenkins and tried to sing the songs just by listening to them and copying the way they pronounced each Italian word. I then went on to get vocal coaching from a Russian vocal coach called Sergei Desmond who was shocked that a young girl was so enthusiastic to sing classical music instead of singing Adele or Lady Gaga!

Has it always just been classical singing or are there other styles you do too?

In the beginning before I discovered I could sing classical music, I tried to sing the usual pop music. I could sing it and hold the tune but it definitely wasn’t anything special! However, I like to sing a lot of modern classical music such as classical crossover songs and songs that people would often recognise from movies and TV adverts. I also take some pop songs and put a classical twist on them such as Perfect by Ed Sheeran and Everything I Do (Quello Che Faro) by Bryan Adams in Italian.

Tell us about your experience on the Voice. What’s it like in real life compared to what we see on TV?

I had an amazing experience on The Voice. It was so interesting to see how it all worked and came together. I think a lot of people (including myself) don’t realise the amount of work that goes on before the show is even filmed. You definitely don’t just turn up on the day and sing your song. I had many auditions to pass and visits down to London and Manchester before my blind audition was filmed in the October of 2016 and aired February 2017 (which was a long time to wait and not tell anyone that I was going to be on!)

What doors has it opened to you?

I got great exposure from the show which lead to so many amazing opportunities such as: representing the UK at a classical concert in Moscow at The Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, performing alongside Stormzy and Paloma Faith at a YouTube event in London, performing at Game Of Thrones star, James Cosmo’s celebration of 50 years in film and many other events in places such as Budapest, Amsterdam and Italy.

What have your previous Fringe experiences been like?

For five years I was busking on The Royal Mile, St Andrew’s Square and various outdoor bars and restaurants. I don’t look like a “typical” classical singer so when people walked down the streets they would usually stop and look a little shocked. When I was 15, STV News did a report on the impact I was making as a classical singing busker at the festival so it is amazing to have been able to take a step forward and hold my own show at an official Fringe venue.

What are your hopes for the future?

My ultimate goal is to become a recording artist and tour around the world performing with orchestras! I would love to make classical singing more trendy and cool as I get so many young people come up to me and say that they wouldn’t usually listen to classical music but actually enjoyed my performance, which is so lovely to hear.

Concert with Ciara Harvie is @ St Andrew’s and St George’s West, Edinburgh, on Mon 12, Tue 13 & Sun 18 Aug. Times vary.