Helen Vollam is Principal Trombone of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and is the first woman to be appointed Principal Trombone in a London orchestra. She is a member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and is a regular guest with the Britten Sinfonia and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. She has played guest principal with all the London orchestras and with ensembles abroad including Spira Mirabilis and the Freiburg Barockorchester.
She studied with Anne Higgs, Willi Watson and Denis Wick and during this time reached the Brass Final of the 1992 BBC Young Musician competition and was a member of the National Youth Orchestra and Essex Youth Orchestra. She went to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, where she studied with Eric Crees and Simon Wills. Helen was Principal Trombone of the European Union Youth Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and won the Bronze Medal in the 1995 Shell/LSO Music Scholarship. In 2003 she won the Woodwind & Brass Award and Philip Jones Memorial Prize in the Royal Over-Seas League Music Competition. In 2017 she was the recipient of the British Trombone Society's Sheila Tracy Award.
In demand as a teacher and adjudicator, Helen has given classes at the Royal Academy of Music, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Royal College of Music, Royal Northern College of Music, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and Wells Cathedral School. In 2017 she was on the faculty for the Dublin Brass Week. She has adjudicated for the BBC Young Musician, Royal Over-Seas League, BBC Radio 2 Young Brass Award, British Trombone Society and International Trombone Association Competitions.
Helen has worked with conductors such as Haitink, Giulini, Abbado, Harnoncourt, Boulez, Oramo, Nézet-Séguin, Rostropovich, Berglund, Mackerras and Sir Colin Davis. She has toured extensively, travelling throughout Europe, Japan, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Russia, South America, Canada and the USA. Helen served on the Artistic Advisory Group at the BBC Symphony Orchestra for nine years.
She has played on many TV and film soundtrack recordings, including Star Wars The Attack of the Clones, three Harry Potter films, Inception, The Last King of Scotland, The Ides of March, Iron Man 2 and Brave.
A keen chamber musician, Helen has performed with the Nash, Gaudier and London Conchord Ensembles, Onyx Brass, London Brass and London Symphony Orchestra Brass. She has been a member of trombone quartet Bones Apart since 2007 and arranges much of their repertoire. Her arrangements are published with BrassWorks, Denis Wick Publishing and Bones Apart Publishing.
The Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra in Bb by Rimsky-Korsakov was originally scored for solo trombone and military band. It has a wonderfully lyrical second movement, whilst the first and last movements afford the soloist the opportunity to show the brilliant technical possibilities of the trombone. It is a short work, 10 minutes, for a concerto. It is thought that the work was written whilst Rimsky-Korsakov was serving as a naval officer and appointed as an ‘Inspector of Military Bands’.