My oboe journey began, in the words of my Granddad, ‘because everyone always needs oboes’; shame he didn’t mention about the reeds! Having already tried piano and violin with limited success, oboe came much more naturally to me and so I continued during school and went on to study at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) under Stephen West and James Horan. This was really where I was first exposed to orchestral playing and the dedication and drive required to forge a path in the industry. Whilst at RCS I was awarded an apprenticeship with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
Following my studies at RCS, I attended the Royal College of Music (RCM) to study for my Master of Performance. I was an RCM scholar, gratefully supported by a Helen and Douglas Simmonds Award, Help Musicians UK Postgraduate Award and an RCM Progress Award. I studied with David Theodore, Olivier Stankiewicz, John Anderson and Christine Pendrill and graduated with distinction in 2016. Highlights of my time at the RCM include orchestral projects under Vladamir Jurowski and with singers from Opera Australia for HRH Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace. I also gained a place on the BBC Symphony Orchestra apprenticeship scheme.
In October 2016, I performed Simon Holt’s Sparrow Night for solo oboe and ensemble with the RCM New Perspectives ensemble This really opened up my mind to contemporary music, something I had previously found confusing and had not before considered to be a strength of mine at all! In July 2016, I took part in the Young Virtuosi Festival in France which included a performance of Bach’s Oboe and Violin Concerti.
I have worked with the Royal Northern Sinfonia and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and, from 2014-2016, held the position of Principal Cor Anglais with the Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra.
Aside from playing, I have built up a vast teaching portfolio; something that I am very passionate about. I teach oboe and all woodwind to adults and children alike, as well as teaching music and dance classes in nurseries around London. I also coach a junior orchestra, wind ensemble and composition/rhythm ensemble, and have a keen interest in the Kodály method, incorporating its concepts into my teaching. For me as a working musician, teaching is a fundamental aspect of my career. Without my own teachers, I would never have got to where I am now and will be forever grateful for their guidance and support. I feel the best way to show that gratitude is to pass on those skills as best I can.
Royal College of Music
Royal Conservatoire of Scotlant
What do you love about classical music?
It is a universal language, something that everyone can experience in their own unique way, be it listening, through vibrations or making it themselves. Music is something that no one can really explain or describe, a constant that is so often unconsciously there. I have probably encountered music everyday of my life and I have grown to use it as a vehicle for expression, but it offers so much more than that. The classical genre spans such great variety in orchestration, styles and ideas that you are always able to discover something new. Music is ever the same, even when playing something familiar there is always something new to notice and discover, I think that’s what I love the most.
Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us
Before turning to music, I was an elite level gymnast and a ballet dancer - in fact I very nearly pursued dance as my career. I also have a ridiculous collection of cacti, one of which is as tall as me! Unfortunately, they don’t all fit in my house, so my parents are very reluctantly babysitting about 10, including the giant one.