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bones apart trombone quartet

Helen Vollam

Helen is Principal Trombone of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and is also a member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and Bones Apart Trombone Quartet. She enjoys a busy and varied career combining orchestral playing, chamber music, solo work and teaching.

Helen was appointed Principal Trombone of the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 2004, and is the first woman to be appointed principal trombone of a London orchestra. With the BBCSO she performs in their Barbican concert season, studio concerts, recordings and tours, as well as performing around a dozen concerts at the BBC Proms, including the legendary ‘Last Night of the Proms’, broadcast worldwide.

Helen studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London with Eric Crees and Simon Wills. During this time she was Principal Trombone of the European Union Youth Orchestra and won the Bronze Medal in the Shell/LSO Music Scholarship, the Morris Smith Trombone Prize, Harry Mortimer Award and a postgraduate award from the Countess of Munster Musical Trust.

Since graduating she has performed with most of the UK’s orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. She has also worked with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, Freiburg Barockorchester, Spira Mirabilis and the World Orchestra for Peace. This varied work has taken her on tours throughout Europe, South America, United States, Japan, China and Russia.

In 2003 she won the Woodwind & Brass Award and Philip Jones Memorial Brass Prize in the final of the Royal Over-Seas League Music Competition, and was the first ever trombone player to reach the competition’s final.

In demand as a teacher and adjudicator, Helen has given classes at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Royal Academy of Music, Royal College of Music, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Royal Northern College of Music, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Wells Cathedral School and the Purcell School. She was on the faculty for the 2017 Dublin Brass Week and has adjudicated for BBC Young Musician, Royal Over-Seas League, BBC Radio 2 Young Brass Award, Swisstbone, British Trombone Society and International Trombone Association Competitions. In 2017 she was the recipient of the British Trombone Society's Sheila Tracy Award for 'significant contribution to her field'.

Helen has played on many film soundtrack recordings, including Star Wars The Attack of the Clones, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Inception, The Last King of Scotland, Iron Man 2, The Ides of March and Brave. Also an accomplished brass arranger, she has published many of her trombone ensemble arrangements with Bones Apart Publishing.

In 2019 Helen gave the world premiere of Gavin Higgins' new Trombone Concerto 'Book of Miracles', written specially for her, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican in London. In December 2019 the 'Book of Miracles' won Gavin Higgins an Ivors Award for Best Orchestral Composition.

Find out more about Helen at