Robert (Bob) Porter began studying the bassoon aged 11 and at 14 was accepted as a Junior Exhibitioner at the Royal Academy of Music. Two years later, after playing with the National Youth Orchestra, he decided to give up all thoughts of a future in maths and instead, began a career which now encompasses musician, conductor, teacher, concert promoter and artistic director.
Whilst studying at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Bob seamlessly began teaching in the Junior Department from its inception and was appointed Head of Wind Brass and Percussion in 1985 — a position he still holds today. He also taught regularly for the Spanish National Youth Orchestra (JONDE) and was a member of the Artistic Board of the Catalan National Youth Orchestra (JONC) for over ten years.
As a performer he was a member of the London Mozart Players and worked with every major professional orchestra in London.
In 1991 Bob was made a Freeman of the City of London for services to music — an honour which allows him to drive a flock of sheep over London Bridge... something he fully intends to do one of these days. In his spare time, he is passionate about cricket (playing), rugby (watching), red wine and jazz, although not necessarily in that order!
For thirty years, Meyrick Alexander held the position of Principal Bassoon of the Philharmonia Orchestra, before which he was a member of the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra and the Northern Sinfonia. He currently plays principal with the London Chamber Orchestra and has played with nearly every orchestra in the UK. He also works with the leading period instrument ensembles and contemporary music groups. He has played and recorded as a soloist on many occasions around the world and has played on the soundtracks of a large number of feature films and TV programmes.
In the field of education, Meyrick was Head of Woodwind at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and continues there as a tutor. He has also been a member of staff at the Royal Northern College of Music, Birmingham Conservatoire and principally at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he was awarded a Fellowship for his work creating their Orchestral Artistry course. Meyrick has given recitals and masterclasses around the UK, Europe, USA, Australia and the Far East and has recently joined the staff at the Royal Academy of Music.
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.
Rosie Cow studied at the Junior Department at Royal College of Music, the Royal College of Music with Martin Gatt, and at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Meyrick Alexander and Gordon Laing. She now enjoys a varied and exciting career playing both bassoon and contrabassoon for many top UK orchestras including BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, London Concert Orchestra, London Mozart Players, and Welsh National Opera, as well as making regular trips to Dublin to play with the RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland. She has also been playing with the versatile Aristos Ensemble since 2004, a venture which has taken her to North Africa, the Mediterranean and South America, as well as venues around the UK. Rosie was appointed Principal Bassoon with the English Symphony Orchestra in 2016, involving a busy schedule of concerts, taking live music to residents in local care homes through the ESO Care Home Concerts project, and working with young people as part of ESO’s Youth projects. Rosie is also a member of Bath Philharmonia, Longborough Festival Opera and Southern Pro Musica.
Rosie is in demand as a coach and teacher of pupils as young as 7 on the mini bassoon up to young-at-heart adult learners. She is Bassoon Teacher at Junior Guildhall in London and also coaches wind trios, quintets and bassoon quartets. Rosie makes bassoon reeds for professionals and students all over the world.
When not playing the bassoon, Rosie loves being in the mountains - walking, trail running, climbing, skiing and ski touring.
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.
Adam is the Principal Bassoonist of Opera North, a position he has held since December 2017. After leaving the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 2004, Adam has studied in Milan (Accademia del Teatro alla Scala) with Valentino Zucchiatti and with Dag Jensen in Hanover before settling down to a 12-year freelance career. In that time, whilst living in London, Adam worked with most UK orchestras and chamber orchestras but, remarkably, had very little to do with opera. He is making up for this oversight now.
Adam has been an active chamber musician. As a member of the New London Chamber Ensemble he played at the Wigmore Hall with pianist Angela Hewitt, performed Berio’s Opus Zoo choreographed and from memory, and recorded works by Lenox Berkeley (Naxos). As a member of Chamber Domaine, Adam has performed Rossini’s Giovanna d’Arco for an installation by Anish Kapoor, recorded Britten’s Sinfonietta and Bridge’s There is a Willow Aslant a Brook (Resonus)and given performances of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale to hundreds of children.
As Director of Education for English Sinfonia and Brandenburg Sinfonia Adam has devised and delivered composition projects up and down the country with seasoned professionals and non-musicians alike, narrated Peter and the Wolf many times with groups such as London Mozart Players and Sinfonia ViVA (of which he was a member for some years) and brought together over 800 children for a massed concert in Fairfield Hall. He currently teaches at Chetham’s School of Music and the Royal Norther College of Music.
Adam lives outside Leeds with his headteacher wife and two children. He likes running, hiking and avoiding Lego left on the floor.
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.
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.
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.