Rachel studied at Birmingham Conservatoire with Jonathan Kelly and George Caird. During her time there she won the Birmingham and Midland Institute Woodwind Prize and the Rollason Award for performance, and was invited to perform a double Albinoni Concerto with George Caird. Following her studies at Birmingham she moved to London to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Richard Simpson.
Rachel has had a busy freelance career combining performance with education. She has performed with many orchestras, including Brandenburg Sinfonia, BBC Concert Orchestra, Glyndebourne Touring Opera, London Chamber Orchestra, London Mozart Players and Southern Sinfonia. As a soloist Rachel has performed numerous Baroque concertos with Southern Sinfonia under the baton of David Hill, and her performance of Albinoni op9 no2 was described as ‘poignant, dramatic and beautifully shaped’.
Education is an important part of Rachel’s musical life and she is passionate about encouraging the next generation to enjoy music. She is an oboe teacher and chamber music coach at the Guildhall School of Music Junior department, St Johns College School, The Leys and Oakham School, and is often invited to give workshops and masterclasses. Rachel has tutored at the Big Double Reed Day, The Cork School of Music Double Reed Day and chamber music courses at Benslow Hills in Hitchin, and in the Summer of 2020, she ran online workshops. As part of her education work Rachel has a blog, and has written a book for student oboists called 20 Character Pieces.
Peter Facer grew up in Hertfordshire and attended Girton College, Cambridge where he read music, graduating with a double first class degree. He then studied as a postgraduate at the Royal Academy of Music in London where he graduated with distinction and earned the DipRAM for an outstanding final exam. After this, he moved to Germany to continue his studies at music conservatoires in Hanover and Rostock. During his final semester, he won the position of principal oboe with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra.
After working with WASO for some years, he relocated to Great Britain to continue his career and was appointed to the position of co-principal oboe with the Britten Sinfonia. He now divides his time between Britten Sinfonia engagements, guesting with other British orchestras, and giving solo concerts. Peter also enjoys frequent collaborations with conductor John Wilson, and has played in many of his celebrated Hollywood Spectacular concerts. He is a founder member of Wilson’s newest venture: the Sinfonia of London, a hand-picked orchestra comprising the finest players from Britain’s orchestral scene.
As a recital soloist, Peter regularly gives concerts for music societies across the nation, often working with the pianist Richard Uttley, another Cambridge alumnus. The pair began performing together during their university days and still enjoy a fruitful musical partnership a decade later. When programming recitals, they like to juxtapose challenging, new works (sometimes world premieres) alongside beloved old favourites.
Peter is also a published composer and arranger. He was a recent prize-winner in the Aglaia composition awards and his solo oboe work The Praying Mantis was performed in the semi-final of the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition.
In 2019, Peter was honoured to be made an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music.
Fraser MacAulayinitially read Zoology at Durham University before completing postgraduate studies with Stephane Rancourt at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Christopher Cowie at the Royal College of Music. During his time at the RCM, he was awarded the Lady Barbirolli Oboe Prize and won several scholarships including a Martin Musical Trust Fund recital in the Royal Festival Hall.
Since graduating in 2009, Fraser has enjoyed a successful and varied freelance career performing as second oboe and cor anglais with orchestras such as the London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and BBC Symphony Orchestra.
A dedicated teacher, Fraser is an oboe tutor at the London Centre for Young Musicians and has coached the woodwind section of the London Schools Symphony Orchestra. He joined the Guildhall School staff as Professor of Oboe in 2015 and has been a favourite tutor at BIG Double Reed Days for many years.
Ben Marshall is a performer, educator and coach. For over 10 years Ben has performed as oboist and cor anglais player on concert platforms around the world with leading orchestras including The Royal Ballet Sinfonia, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and English Touring Opera. He has also performed on London's West End, played for Burberry at London Fashion Week and has an exciting role in an upcoming Disney blockbuster.
Beyond life in performance, Ben has maintained education and coaching as core components of his portfolio career. He continues to teach KS3 Music, Oboe & Bassoon at Dame Alice Owen's School (a leading state secondary school in London) as well as coaching the Woodwind sections for Norfolk Symphony Orchestra and Royal Holloway University Symphony Orchestra.
For over three years Ben has been a performance consultant for Moving Performance, applying his breadth of experience to help management consultants reach their potential.
Melinda Maxwell read music at the University of York and studied in Germany with Ingo Goritzki and Helmut Winschermann. She has performed as oboe soloist at many national and international festivals and is frequently heard on BBC Radio 3. Many works have been written for Melinda including by Simon Bainbridge, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Philip Cashian, Anthony Gilbert, Simon Holt, Jo Kondo, Nicholas Maw and Howard Skempton. Melinda is also an accomplished composer herself writing several works for oboe and also various ensemble pieces with strings. Her septet Fractures was commissioned and performed by the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group in 2015 conducted by Oliver Knussen.
She has made many recordings. Her solo CD Melinda Maxwell in Manchester: Music for Oboe from the RNCM released in 2007 for Dutton Recordings was CD of the Month for BBC Music Magazine. Another in 2009 features the first recording for Oboe Classics of Birtwistle’s 26 Orpheus Elegies and was awarded the top rating in the Guardian and BBC Music Magazine. Her latest CD Blue Bamboo: jazz and other improvisations was released with Oboe Classics in January 2017.
In addition to her work as a chamber musician and recitalist, Melinda is Principal oboe of the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and the Endymion Ensemble. She has played as frequent guest Principal with many orchestras and ensembles; including and continuing with the London Sinfonietta with whom she has worked for the last thirty-five years, and over the years has played with major orchestras as sub-Principal. She has been in regular demand in the session TV/Film world and was featured in all the Inspector Morse series for TV.
She has taught as oboe tutor at the Royal Academy of Music (1995-2001) and Trinity College in London. She was RNCM Head of Woodwind (2001-2003) and RNCM Consultant in Woodwind Studies (2003-2018). She also coaches at the Britten–Pears School for Advanced Musical Studies and is Oboe Tutor for the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.
In June 2013 she gained an MMus in Jazz Performance from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. In September 2017 she began a PhD in Composition, Improvisation and Performance.
Richard Simpson studied at The Royal College of Music with the late Sydney Sutcliffe, and on leaving was appointed by Pierre Boulez to the position of sub-principal oboe with the BBC Symphony Orchestra – a position he held for just one year, before being invited to join the Hallé Orchestra as Principal Oboe. He spent eighteen years with that orchestra and during that time had the opportunity of performing concerti by Mozart, Strauss, Vaughan Williams, Martinu and Hummel to critical acclaim.
In 1991 he returned to the BBC Symphony Orchestra, this time as Principal Oboe, a position he held for 27 years. He is now enjoying being involved in various chamber music activities and solo work. He is a member of the Syrinx Trio, with Michael Cox, Principal Flute of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and his wife Janet. He is a professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. His recordings include the oboe music of Thomas Pitfield, Benjamin Britten’s Metamorphoses after Ovid, the Rubbra oboe sonata, and (on the Divine Art label) Sir John Manduell’s Double Concerto for oboe and cor anglais.
This last year has given him the time and opportunity to work on arrangements which he makes for the Syrinx Trio.
Alison Teale is a former student of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, having studied oboe with Nicholas Daniel and Helena Gaunt, and Cor Anglais with Jane Marshall.
Graduating with a BMus(Hons) 1st class degree at 22, she immediately took the position of Co-Principal Oboe with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. During her time there she won the highly acclaimed International Isle of Wight Oboe Competition (now the Isle of Man competition) and gave her London solo debut at the Purcell Room.
On her return to the UK, she became Principal Cor Anglais with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, moving to the same position a few years later with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, which she now considers her “home”.
During her time as the Cor Anglais player with the BBC Symphony, she produced her ground-breaking solo album COR, accompanied by Elizabeth Burley. This sets out to explore and promote the versatility of this beautiful instrument. The album has received great critical acclaim, leading to various recitals, and a guest appearance BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. In January 2020, Alison proudly changed seats in her own orchestra (BBC Symphony) to become Co Principal Oboe.
Alison’s other passion is education, taking up the role of Oboe Professor at Guildhall School of Music & Drama in 2010. Her interest in student education led her to complete a PG Cert in Performance Teaching, and she was awarded a Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy as a recognition of her teaching excellence.
She travels the world in her orchestral position and acts as ambassador for Lorée, giving masterclasses and recitals, her latest visits being to Malaga, Florida in which she opened the concert for the International Double Reed Conference in 2019, and to China.
She is also in demand as guest player for many of the other leading orchestras. Alison can be heard in numerous orchestral concert recordings, on both cor and oboe, motion picture soundtracks and makes regular TV appearances within the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
She is no stranger to BBC Radio 3, taking part in pre-concert debates, presenting an episode of Inside Music in August 2019. She also recorded at home during lockdown The Garden of Love by Jacob TV, as an oboe solo, which was aired on the New Music programme, and is currently available to view on the BBC Symphony Orchestra website.
Described by The Independent as “a worthy champion” of contemporary oboe music, James Turnbull has dedicated much of his performing life to promoting and extending the oboe repertoire. James has performed frequently throughout the UK and Europe including a solo recitals at the Wigmore Hall and live on BBC Radio 3, and has released solo recordings for Toccata Classics, Champs Hill Records, Quartz Music and the ABRSM. Most recently the Royal Academy of Music recognised his contribution to the music profession by awarding him an ARAM.
James is deeply committed to expanding the oboe repertoire. He has worked closely with Michael Berkeley, John Casken, Jonathan Dove, John Woolrich, Thea Musgrave and Tansy Davies on their compositions for oboe. In 2015, James launched the New Oboe Music Project (NewOboeMusic.org) which promotes 21st century oboe repertoire across the world. James is also founder of the Leon Goossens Prize for Emerging Composers to help encourage a new generation of composers to write for the oboe, and is Artistic Director of Ensemble Perpetuo, a chamber music collective that specialises in multi-art form collaborations and innovative ways of performing chamber music in new contexts.
Aside from his performing interests, James is dedicated to broadening the appeal of the oboe and encouraging young people to learn the instrument. To this end, he has launched the website LearnToPlayTheOboe.com which now receives over a thousand new visitors every month from across the world. James also teaches at the Royal College of Music Junior Department and the Purcell School, and gives masterclasses across Europe. In recognition of his work in music education, James was awarded the inaugural Patricia Prindl Prize by the Musicians’ Company in 2016.
James plays a Lorée Oboe and Cor Anglais supplied by Crowthers of Canterbury.
Julia White is a former cor anglais soloist with Santiago Philharmonic Orchestra. As an oboist, she has recorded for Oboe Classics, appeared on Channel 4, and played oboe and cor anglais for the children's animation 'Rita and Crocodile' shown on the BBC. She performed the Strauss Oboe Concerto at St John's, Smith Square: 'a most assured performance full of warm lyricism and dazzling virtuosity' (Music Web International). Julia has travelled the world performing for Cunard, visiting far flung locations including Papua New Guinea, Tahiti, Australia, Japan and the Philippines. She also plays oboe, Irish whistles and percussion in hospital intensive care units for the 'ICUHear' project run by the charity Music in Hospitals and Care.
She teaches at City of London School, is an oboe assessor for Leeds College of Music, and has given a masterclass to students at Trinity College of Music. Her pupils have achieved music scholarships, distinction at Grade 8, and membership of the National Children's and National Youth Orchestras. She is currently adapting and editing a collection of unaccompanied recorder pieces for the oboe. www.juliawhite.co.uk
London-based oboist Rebecca Wood enjoys a varied career, regularly playing with leading orchestras such as the BBC Concert Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra and English National Opera Orchestra. She also plays regularly in the West End in shows such as "Wicked" and "Les Miserables" and was a chairholder on shows including "The Sound of Music", "Oliver" and most recently Disney’s "Aladdin".
As a teenager Rebecca was Principal Oboe of the National Youth Orchestra and a Woodwind finalist of the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition. She studied at the Royal Academy of Music, The Academy for Performing Arts in Hong Kong and completed her postgraduate year at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama.
She is dedicated to passing her knowledge onto the next generation of young artists, and currently teaches at the Junior School of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and at King’s College School in Wimbledon. She is also the Oboe coach and Head of Woodwind of the National Schools Symphony Orchestra.