BDRS Committee

Our committee members are introduced below. For contact details please see the Contact page.

CHAIRMAN – Geoffrey Bridge

“I was born in Accrington, Lancashire, the son of professional musicians.  An early recruit to the organisation, I have been associated with the BDRS committee since 1999 and have served as ordinary member, Treasurer, Membership Secretary, and Advertising Manager.

“After a period of medical training at St Andrew’s University I studied the oboe at the Royal College of Music with Peter Graeme, continuing with Léon Goossens, Jock Sutcliffe, and later took classes with Heinz Holliger and Maurice Bourgue. I studied conducting with Sir Adrian Boult.

“Following my professional recital début in the Manchester Midday Concert series of 1962, I became a solo artist for the Arts Council of Great Britain. I have broadcast solo and chamber music recitals for BBC radio and made solo appearances on both independent television and radio.

“I have worked as a freelance player with many orchestras, including the BBC Welsh Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra and Southern Pro Musica, and given recitals throughout the UK. Presently in Scotland I am principal oboe for the Aberdeen Sinfonietta, The City of Perth Sinfonia, the Heisenberg Ensemble, and for the Britten Chamber Opera Series for Byre Opera.

“Teaching has always been an integral part of my work and after teaching in Aberdeenshire in the sixties I moved to England, became Head of Woodwind Teaching for Hampshire County Council, conductor of Southampton Youth Orchestra and eventually Deputy Head of the Hampshire Music Service. I retired early in 1993 to resume full-time performance work, and before returning to Scotland in September 2003 I taught the oboe at Winchester College. I continue to play professionally, conduct, and coach at Summer Schools; until recently I was Director of the annual Winchester Summer Music course.”

www.geoffreybridgeoboe.com

SECRETARY – Paul Hubbard

“I came late to the double-reed family, having only taken up the bassoon in my late 40s. As a child I learnt the violin and piano, but never felt secure with either of these, and eventually discovered a passion for the recorder and for music of the baroque period.

“I studied music at Cambridge where I seized the opportunity to perform with some talented fellow students. Needing a steady income I then joined the civil service, and it was only when my children started to grow up that my thoughts turned to a different sound and a wider repertoire. It had to be another wind instrument; I had always liked the sound of the bassoon, and the notion of playing a less common instrument — which also offered a chance to experience orchestral texture from the inside — was appealing. Learning a new and rather difficult instrument, with limited time in mid-life to practise, has been a challenge and I owe a considerable debt to two patient and supportive teachers! I now play mostly chamber music in various combinations, especially French music of the last century.

“Along the way I have benefitted from attending Society events and enjoyed reading Double Reed News. As incoming Secretary I am keen to help to maintain and develop the Society as a strong and relevant body with something to offer to all double-reed players. ”

TREASURER – Stephen Fuller

“Writing this I realise that the bassoon has been an important part of my life for over 50 years. I began with lessons at secondary school and went on to study at music college and while music did not become my career (I had what musicians’ sometimes I think wrongly refer to as “a proper job”), it has provided me with some of the most memorable and pleasurable experiences and friendships of my life. I was fortunate from early days with the bassoon to have opportunities to play in orchestras and chamber groups, to perform in innumerable concerts in wonderful, sometimes famous, and occasionally bizarre venues. I’ve also been privileged on a number of occasions to perform concertos and concertante works. Throughout I’ve been fortunate to have fascinating and inspiring teachers and colleagues.

“I joined BDRS at its inception and when I stopped working joined the committee. As newly-elected Treasurer I hope to help the society develop and thrive so it can continue to help, encourage, link, and acclaim oboists and bassoonists in the UK and with the wider double reed community.”

MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY – Donal Flynn

“I came to the oboe having tried, at various stages, the piano, violin, tuba, tenor horn, French horn, and finally guitar. My dream about the oboe, as a teenager, was inspired by a Trinity College oboe student coming to play wonderfully in our local orchestra who always wore a suit, which struck me as odd even then!

“I have been with the oboe for about thirty years now and play in a North London orchestra, as well as chamber groups with friends, and am a member of the Oxford and Cambridge Music Club, taking the ATCL Trinity Diploma a few years ago. I have recently started to ‘translate’ pieces for wind groups, sometimes including piano, and quite enjoy the resulting struggle with Sibelius!

“I was secretary and chair of a wind orchestra for many years and feel confident that this experience can serve me well with the BDRS. I am very interested in understanding members’ wishes for the future of our Society and in looking at ways to expand our membership.  Commissioning articles to appear in DRN, particularly for the amateur oboist, is also one of my aims.”

EDITOR, DOUBLE REED NEWS – Clive Fairbairn

“When editing the BDRS magazine I often conjure the wry smile on the face of my English teacher, expending much red ink on my latest essay – he was only too aware that most of my time was dedicated to one or other of the many aspects of music-making that absorbed me then, as they do now. He would doubtless have entertained little idea that I might one day be wielding a red pen of my own.

“The Royal Academy of Music was curiously short of bassoon players the year they let me in, ensuring this late-starter had to catch up extremely fast. But already I had been bitten by the conducting bug. I now see another wry face, that of my piano professor, Alan Richardson; nevertheless his wife, Janet Craxton, proved a great help as co-conspirator when, some years later, I formed the New Mozart Orchestra, and she became its Principal Oboe.

“Although most of my career has been driven by orchestral conducting — including the LSO and LPO — promoting music education has always featured deeply, whether as lecturer, examiner, teacher, or youth orchestra conductor.

“I have held the editorship of DRN continuously since 1996 and produced around 80 editions.”

www.nmo.org.uk

ADVERTISING MANAGER – Alison Wathey

“I began learning the bassoon aged twelve, being taught at school in Plymouth by visiting Royal Marine bassoonists. I soon joined Plymouth Youth Orchestra, through which I became a pupil of Kerry Camden at Exeter University Music Department, up until I left school. I then read for a BA in Mathematics and Music, followed by an MSc in Operational Research at the University of Birmingham. While an undergraduate I also studied at the Birmingham School of Music with David Robinson and Andrew Barnell.

“Since 1984 I have lived in the Portsmouth area where, for several years, I worked as a software and systems engineer on naval computer systems, initally for Ferranti Computer Systems Limited and finally for BAE Systems. From 1993 to 1999 I resumed my bassoon studies by becoming a part-time student at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama with Ian Cuthill, alongside my full-time job.

“Since leaving the defence industry I have gained an LRSM in bassoon performance and am currently a self-employed bassoon- and contra-player and private teacher. I play regularly with the Havant Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, the City of Southampton Orchestra, and with professional chamber orchestra Southern Pro Musica. I also freelance for other orchestras and societies across the south.”

WEBMASTER & SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER – Louisa Denby

“I’ve been a member of the BDRS for nearly twenty years. I read Music at Selwyn College, Cambridge, and went on to a Masters in Conducting, before undertaking a degree in Theology & Religious Studies to enable me to pursue a PhD in Music and Theology. My research has now strayed into evolutionary biology and cognitive psychology; I teach and lecture at the University of Cambridge in these areas as well as the practical musicianship side of things, and am occasionally persuaded to teach and examine Jazz and improvisation at Cambridge and the GSMD. Outside of academia I have a major role as CEO & Artistic Director of the National Youth Wind Orchestra of Great Britain, alongside my work as a conductor and organist in the UK and abroad, as well as bassoon-playing (of course!). When not making music of one form or another I enjoy boxing, swimming, and long-distance cycling, and take great delight in learning new languages.”

www.voxcantab.net

COMMITTEE MEMBER – Hannah Blumsohn

“I am a Baroque and modern oboist based in London (and sometimes Yorkshire); I have been a member of the BDRS since age 15 and am pleased to be on the committee. I am motivated to explore how we can create new opportunities for young musicians and emerging professionals, and engage new players and audiences in this difficult time.

“I grew up in Sheffield and began playing the oboe aged ten, learning with Paul Scott, Hazel Cropper, and Adrian Wilson, and playing with the National Youth Chamber Orchestra and City of Sheffield Youth Orchestra.

“I graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 2019, and for the following year was a Guildhall Junior Fellow in Historical Performance. At Guildhall I had inspiring teachers, including Alison Teale, Nicholas Daniel, Fraser MacAulay, Gordon Hunt, Gail Hennessy (baroque), and Jane Marshall (cor anglais).

“I have played with various groups including St James Baroque, Devon Baroque Orchestra, Hampstead Garden Opera, Brandenburg Sinfonia, the London Film Music Orchestra, and the Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra. I currently hold an emerging artist chair with La Serenissima, and also play solo and chamber music, including for the London Bach Society.

“As well as performing, I am an enthusiastic teacher and workshop leader. I teach oboe and music theory, give presentations about the Baroque oboe, and am involved with Kodály musicianship classes for toddlers at North London Conservatoire. Some of these activities have progressed in unusual form over the past year, involving a variety of very non-Baroque items of equipment such as camcorders, computers, and singing teddy bears!

When not involved with music, I enjoy tap dancing and knitting.”

www.oboehannah.co.uk

COMMITTEE MEMBER – Esther Williams

Credit Ivan Weiss

“Born and raised in London, my musical journey began at a young age, picking up the violin at four years old. I taught myself music theory, piano, guitar, recorder, alto saxophone and, by the time I was 16, was adept on eight instruments, including cor anglais, recorder (descant, treble, and tenor), singing, and the instrument that would define my journey: the oboe.

“I studied at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, receiving tutelage from esteemed oboists such as John Anderson, Catriona Southall, Sarah-Jayne Porsmoguer, Murray (Sandy) Johnson, and Gordon Hunt. I have also participated in masterclasses with François Leleux, Sarah Francis, Ludovic Armin Cora, Albrecht Mayer, and am currently studying with world-renowned oboist and BDRS Oboe President Nicholas Daniel.

“I have performed professionally as a freelance musician across the UK and Europe, encompassing musicals, operas, marching bands, solo and orchestral works. Currently, I am a member of Chineke! Orchestra, and also serve as a woodwind mentor to Chineke! Junior orchestra. Alongside this, I balance my musical career with a role in Finance at the Royal Academy of Music (RAM). I also teach in various schools, as well as offering private tuition, and a private reed-making service.

“Having trained as a yoga instructor specialising in the face muscles, my teaching incorporates exercises and techniques which prevent pain and injury.

“Striving for racial equality within the classical music industry, I have spoken on numerous platforms to spark unity, which recently included the International Double Reed Society Symposium 2020. I also sit as a committee member for Freelance Musicians for Musicians Union, and RAM’s Equality, Diversity & Inclusion, and Access & Participation committees, with the ultimate aim of ensuring inclusivity for musicians from all ethnic backgrounds.

“In my spare time, I enjoy going to the gym, reading, yoga, hiking, swimming, boxing, and painting.”

www.estherwilliams.co.uk