Alumna joins top oboe makers

Alumna Iona Walker has joined woodwind instrument specialist Howarth of London as a woodwind finisher. Iona, who graduated from RBC with a BMus in 2009, will be working at the manufacturing workshops in Worthing.

At RBC, Iona was tutored by renowned oboists Richard Weigall, former Principal George Caird and Head of Woodwind Jenni Phillips. Iona also studied Baroque Oboe and Cor Anglais with Historical Oboe Professor Gail Hennessy and RBC Tutor Anna Cooper.

She also participated in masterclasses given by famous soloists such as Chris Cowie, Rainer Gibbons and Nicholas Daniel.

Following graduation, Iona went on to gain a PGCE and NQT in music and instrumental teaching. In 2014, she set up her own her reed-making business IonaReed, providing environmentally-friendly and recyclable reeds.

In 2018, Iona trained to be a woodwind repairer and studied advanced repair at Llangunullo School in Wales, after which she was offered an apprenticeship with expert woodwind repairer and instrument maker Paul Windridge.

Iona said: “Whilst studying in my first year at RBC, I was taught how to start making my own reeds, which really ignited my interest in the technical side of the oboe. This in turn moved me on to an interest in the repairing side of music making, and eventually I cast my sights at making oboes. It’s always something I’ve wanted to be involved with and I’m so pleased to be able to start the journey with Howarth of London.

“My new job role will involve training to be a Finisher and also having a hand in the research and design of future projects with the company. I’m grateful to have been able to start my journey at RBC and I’m really looking forward to helping to continue the tradition of making world class oboes in the UK with a manufacturer who has provided oboists with such wonderful instruments to perform on for many years.”

Jenni Phillips said: “We are delighted and proud that Iona has been taken on as an instrument maker by T W Howarth’s. Iona came in to RBC to take a reed-making class with our current students recently. They were really inspired. Iona has a fabulous eye for detail and I am sure she will make a huge success of this new job.”