Oboist Helena Mackie graduated from the Academy in July this year, having studied on our 2-year MA course, and has now started in her position as Oboe Section Leader of the RLPO.

On her time trialling for the position, as well as juggling her studies and final exams at the Academy, Helena said:

'It was really helpful that the Academy allowed me the time off to go to Liverpool and do the audition and trial patches, and helped change some of my exam dates. My teachers Chris Cowie, Ian Hardwick and Patrick Flanaghan were fantastically supportive, and Fraser Gordon, the Head of Woodwind, was always great. I had a chat with him about what an orchestra trial is like before I went up to Liverpool the first time, and he'd always check in to see how things were going. Having to learn quite a lot of repertoire as well as taking all my final year exams and auditioning for other jobs was a balancing act, but it wasn't ever something that was impossible.'

Cor anglais player Drake Gritton also graduated from the Academy this summer, and was appointed to the position of Principal Cor Anglais at the RLPO whilst still studying. Drake spent five years at the Academy, completing both his BMus and MA - here's what he had to say about his studies and bridging the gap to professional work:

'The Academy was hugely supportive in allowing me to have the right study/professional work balance. I was able to fulfil the requirements as a student whilst also establishing my career as an orchestral musician. With the vast array of hugely experienced professors, I was given the perfect advice and tips in order to prepare well for both the audition and trial processes. My cor anglais teacher, Patrick Flanaghan, shared his wealth of knowledge which provided me with a great range of tools to reach my full potential. I also knew I had brilliant pastoral care in Fraser Gordon. His door was always open if I needed to talk about any internal or external issues that cropped up.'

Along with Helena and Drake, several oboists who have graduated from the Academy in recent years have secured positions with some of the UK's leading orchestras and opera companies:

  • Tom Blomfield - BBC Symphony Orchestra
  • Katherine Bryer - Scottish Chamber Orchestra
  • Henry Clay - Royal Scottish National Orchestra
  • Imogen Davies - Philharmonia Orchestra
  • Alex Hilton - BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
  • Rosie Jenkins - London Symphony Orchestra
  • Amy McKean - BBC National Orchestra of Wales
  • Alice Munday - London Philharmonic Orchestra
  • John Roberts - Academy of St Martin in the Fields
  • Amy Roberts and Lucie Sprague - Welsh National Opera