Helen Whitaker BA (Hons) LTCL MMus
Helen is a busy freelance flute player based in Brighton, England. As a classically trained musician Helen has performed with a wide variety of ensembles and orchestras. She also specialises in recording and performing with bands and non-classical musicians. She is a featured performer on many albums, and has toured the UK and Europe extensively.
Helen is the co-director of ALDAorchestra, and she was granted funding by Arts Council England and Rannís for their debut season which focussed on contemporary Icelandic music. Her current projects include playing with and runnning education workshops for the Orchestra of Sound and Light who specialise in performing new music for film; playing in the Broken Line trio who have commissioned a number of exciting new works for flute, piano and percussion; touring with Steve Reich experts the Colin Currie Group; and recording with 5Billion In Diamonds, a band led by legendary American producer Butch Vig.
Helen graduated from a Masters degree in flute performance at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance with a distinction. Whilst there, she studied the flute with Anna Noakes and Lynda Coffin, and the piccolo with Alan Baker. Helen’s studies at Trinity were generously supported by the Leverhulme Orchestral Mentorship Scholarship, the Ann Driver Trust and the TCM Trust, and in April 2012 Helen was the winner of the coveted Harold Clarke Woodwind Prize. Helen also became a Director’s Prize winner, and she was a finalist in the Isabelle Bond Gold Medal Competition, which saw her perform at Kings Place, London. Helen has twice been shortlisted to become a Park Lane Group Young Artist, and her ensemble recently received an Emerging Excellence Award from the Help Musicians UK. In the summer 2010 Helen was awarded a bursary to attend Dartington International Summer School where she performed Schoenberg’s masterpiece Pierrot Lunaire. It was at Dartington that she met her duo partner, pianist Katherine Tinker, and the pair have since performed at many prestigious venues including Cheltenham Town Hall, Blackheath Halls, and St Mary Magdelane’s Church in Munster Square.
Helen’s interest in contemporary music has led her to perform works by Luciano Berio, George Benjamin, Elliot Carter, Arnold Schoenberg, Louis Andriessen, Jonathan Harvey, Karlheinz Stockhausen and many others. Helen performed in the opening concert of the first London Ear Festival, and has performed for NonClassical on numerous occasions. She has also performed at the Bold Tendencies festival in which an eclectic range of musicians take over a disused multistory car park in Peckham during the summer, performing contemporary and traditional repertoire. Helen has worked with a number of composers in developing new works for the flute, including Laura Harrison and Richard Dudas. Martin Butler was inspired to write a piece for Helen, which she premiered in June 2012. During 2013 Helen worked on a number of new operas at the Tête à Tête and Grimebourne Opera Festivals, and at Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh.
Before embarking upon her postgraduate studies, Helen took a year out to tour, perform, and record with the Wilkommen Collective, and in particular The Leisure Society. She has enjoyed the extensive performance opportunities following the latter band’s Ivor Novello award nominations in 2009 and 2010. Helen has performed at festivals and venues throughout the UK and Europe, including at the Royal Festival Hall, the Barbican, and Glastonbury Festival. 2011 saw an exciting collaboration between The Leisure Society and The Heritage Orchestra where 10 songs from the band’s catalogue were re-arranged to include the full force of the orchestra. Helen has since performed with a number of high profile pop musicians, including Laura Marling, Ray Davies (The Kinks), and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin). Helen has also featured on many recordings, and on live broadcasts on BBC Radio 2,3,4 and 6 with presenters such as Dermot O’Leary, Stuart Maconie, Clive Anderson, and Marc Riley. She has also featured on television as a soloist on Songs of Praise.
Helen previously gained a high 2:1 for a BA(hons) in Music at the University of Sussex, where she performed frequently with the Symphony Orchestra, the 21st Century Ensemble and as a soloist. She performed Malcolm Arnold’s ‘Flute Concerto No.2’ with the University of Sussex Symphony Orchestra in 2007. Whilst at Sussex Helen received a bursary to learn the flute with Rowland Sutherland at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and also with Karen Jones. Her studies at Sussex with Professor Martin Butler, David Osmond-Smith, and Bjorn Heile led Helen to absorb the music school’s fascination with contemporary music, and she became a keen performer of modern flute music.