Lydia Griffiths

Oboe Teacher and Performer

Lydia’s Music Story

Coming from a musical family, with a mum who was a clarinet teacher, Lydia started playing instruments at an early age. By the time she was 5 she already played piano and recorder. Lydia loved playing the recorder in ensembles at school and so her mum suggested to try the oboe so that she could be part of an orchestra. She started playing oboe at age seven, learning with Angela Williams, a private teacher in Hereford, followed by Graeme Adams.

Lydia went to a state secondary school, Aylestone High School which had a “Music Plus” programme. This meant she took GCSE music in Year 9 and AS Level in Year 11, with extra music lessons three mornings a week. In addition to oboe, Lydia did piano to grade 8 whilst at school and continued this as a second study instrument at music college. She now teaches piano as well.

When it came to choices at sixth form, one of the A Levels Lydia wanted to do alongside music was German. This made her look outside her local area as the local sixth form college didn’t offer that subject at the time. She knew about Wells Cathedral School because of Pete Harrison and Simon d’Souza, both teachers at Wells and tutors on the National Youth Wind Orchestra’s Focus course which Lydia attended, so she applied there.  Lydia loved boarding at Wells where she was a Specialist Musician. Liz Fyfe was her oboe teacher and during her time there she realised how important music was to her.

After that Lydia studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where she was taught by Helena Gaunt, Gordon Hunt, Richard Simspon, Alison Teale, Joe Sanders and Jane Marshall. She then attended the Royal College of Music where she was taught by Chris Cowie, Gareth Hulse, Fabien Thouand and Christine Pendrill. She now has a varied playing career – from orchestras to West End shows to recording for heavy metal bands!

Who is Lydia’s inspiration? Well, all the people she performs with. Being a freelance musician gives her the opportunity to be inspired by different people all the time. It could be the person she’s sitting next to in the orchestra, or the soloist out the front. It could be a singer on stage or the conductor of the ensemble.
Lydia now lives in King’s Sutton near Banbury with her partner (a clarinettist) and their tortoiseshell cat. It is a perfect base to enable them both to teach locally and travel further afield to perform.

She regularly plays oboe and cor anglais with orchestras such as the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and Welsh National Opera. She has also performed with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Scottish Opera, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, and the BBC Concert Orchestra. She is a dep player for Wicked in the West End.

As a soloist, Lydia was a prize-winner at the Barbirolli International Oboe Competition in 2014, and in 2009 she won the Chandos Symphony Orchestra’s Young Musician Competition, leading to a performance of the Strauss Oboe Concerto with the orchestra. A few years ago, she performed Marcello’s Oboe Concerto at St-Martin-in-the-Fields. She has also performed the Vaughan Williams and Mozart oboe concertos with various orchestras.

"I think people would describe me as caring and sincere so hopefully this comes through in my teaching"

What was the Guildhall School of Music like and how did it compare to the Royal College of Music?

Guildhall was great – I really learned a lot during my time there and think I came away with a well-rounded and realistic view of the music world. There was a very open and friendly atmosphere there. At RCM I really focussed on my orchestral playing as that was my specialism for postgraduate. It was the perfect environment to do this, and I studied with amazing teachers at both colleges.

Where would you suggest people buy an oboe from?

I play a Marigaux oboe. My recommendations on where to look for an oboe would be:
Howarth of London
Crowthers in Canterbury
And for other oboe-related accessories:
Oboeshop.de

What age do you recommend starting to play the oboe?

You can buy specially made lighter instruments so that you can start as young as 7!

So, what are you like as a teacher?

I think people would describe me as caring and sincere so hopefully this comes through in my teaching. It seems very natural to me as a performer to want to encourage music making in other people, particularly in what will become the next generation of musicians. Music can help bring us together, so the more people we can get involved, the better!
I find it extremely rewarding when my pupils achieve something they have been working hard on – whether that is getting a good mark in an exam, or finally mastering a piece they have been practising for a long time.

I sometimes do demos at the schools I teach at to encourage new pupils to learn the oboe. Hearing a piece of music, they know is often a good way in, as well as the beautiful and unique sound that the oboe can make.
Music can convey so many moods and emotions and I hope my students and audiences come away feeling a connection to the music they have played/heard.

I want my students to feel a sense of achievement and enjoyment in their music making.

What has been your career highlight to date?

One of my performing highlights so far must be a month-long orchestra tour to South East Asia. We visited 6 different countries, playing a concert in each one. We also had lots of free time to explore each city and soak up the culture. It was a very inspiring experience.

What oboe pieces would you recommend people listen to, to inspire them to play?

Gabriel’s Oboe from The Mission
Vaughan Williams Oboe Concerto
Music played by Gordon Hunt

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