Oboist Helen Barker often travels hundreds of miles to perform but when she plays at Chobham Festival’s Festive Baroque Concert on Saturday 30 September, she will be on home ground.
Helen grew up in Woking, before winning a scholarship to the Royal College of Music where she won all the oboe prizes! Since then she has had a busy career as soloist, chamber and orchestral musician in London and around the UK. She also teaches at Sir William Perkins’s School, Chertsey – where she went to school herself – and St George’s, Weybridge.
“I come from a musical family. My mum is a recorder and piano teacher and my Dad was a keen amateur recorder and clarinet player, who participated in various music groups in the Woking area.”
Helen herself participated in the Woking Music Festival every year from the age of six until her final year at school. In 1996, she won second prize in the Woking Young Musician of the Year. In the most recent competition, the second prize winner – Tom Hammond, from Knaphill – is one of her pupils.
“I am delighted to have been asked to play in Chobham Festival this year,” said Helen. “As a musician, you end up travelling far and wide, giving many performances hundreds of miles from home, so I am really looking forward to doing a concert which so many of my family and friends will be able to attend easily.”
Helen is delighted to be playing Bach’s Concerto for oboe and violin with concert director Tim Callaghan, who was a violin tutor when she played, for several years as a violinist, in the Surrey Youth Orchestra.
Albinoni’s D minor concerto is also on the programme. “One of the best baroque works in the oboe repertoire,” says Helen. The middle movement is frequently performed at weddings, most famously at the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla.
Helen’s career highlights have included playing principal oboe at BBC Proms concerts, being the oboist on Sting’s ‘Symphonicities’ tour and performing for royalty with chamber groups.
As a soloist Helen has performed at many prestigious venues such as St. John’s, Smith Square and the Bridgewater Hall and has played concertos with several orchestras including the Guildford Symphony Orchestra, Southern Pro Musica, the Handel Collection, Sinfonia da Chiesa, St George’s Chamber Orchestra, the RCM Chamber Orchestra and Surrey County Youth Orchestra.
As a chamber musician, Helen has played at many of the major UK venues, including the Wigmore Hall, Purcell Room, Royal Festival Hall and international festivals such as Cheltenham and Brighton.
She is a founder member of the award-winning wind quintet, ‘The Zephyr Ensemble of London’, which performed twice at the former Chobham Music Club, as well as broadcasting on BBC Radio 3.
Orchestral playing has taken her to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Halle Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, Mozart Festival Orchestra, London Concert Orchestra, Southern Pro Musica and many others,