Helen grew up in Warrington and began learning the oboe aged 12. She was inspired to pursue a musical career after holding the Principal Oboe position with the Hallé Youth Orchestra, and went on to complete her studies at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) in Manchester and the Royal College of Music (RCM) in London, graduating with a master’s in 2014. During this time, she studied with Fabien Thouand, John Anderson, Jenny Galloway, Jonathan Small and Melinda Maxwell, and benefited from the support of Help Musicians UK and the Countess of Munster Trust, in addition to scholarships from both the RCM and RNCM.
Competition successes include being selected as a finalist in the prestigious RNCM Gold Medal competition and winning both the Evelyn Rothwell Oboe Prize and the Douglas Whittaker Prize for Chamber Music at the RCM in 2013. She was also the winner of the RNCM Oboe Prize on three occasions, and was recently invited to perform Marcello’s Oboe Concerto with the RNCM String Orchestra.
Helen has performed with the Britten-Pears Orchestra and the London Sinfonietta Academy, and while at the RCM performed as Principal Oboe with the RCM Symphony Orchestra in the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Helen’s orchestral experience also includes work with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, European Union Youth Orchestra and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.
In addition to her work as a solo and orchestral musician, Helen enjoys performing as a member of the Aquillo Reed Trio, whose notable achievements have seen them finalists in the Royal Over-Seas League competition and the Tunnell Trust Awards Scheme.
Personal highlights include performing in the Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik, the Kölner Philharmonie, and on the New Central Harbourfront in Hong Kong.
Helen’s place in Southbank Sinfonia is generously supported by the Dunard Fund.
What inspired you to become a professional musician?
I was first introduced to classical music through film soundtracks – I would listen to them and imagine the orchestra creating this other world. Later, playing and touring with local youth orchestras and learning about all the incredible repertoire out there really made me want to do this professionally.
What’s on your playlist right now?
Shostakovich’s 4th Symphony, the Eagles Greatest Hits, anything by Muse and John Williams’ soundtrack to Catch Me If You Can.
Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us.
I really enjoy portrait drawing and painting when I have the chance, and for a long time I wanted to work for Disney as one of their storyboard artists.