Oboe, Oboe d'Amore & Cor Anglais
"A superb oboist" Gramophone
Althea Ifeka [Talbot-Howard] was superb in the Albinoni Concerto... a lovely liquid sound, and long phrases effortlessly negotiated Bath Chronicle
"Althea Ifeka [Talbot-Howard] played with great beauty: her command of tone and technique were breath–taking" British Harpsichord Society
A sensitive and stylish performer Canberra Times
Please click here if you require a concise biography for concert programmes.
Althea Talbot-Howard grew up first in London, England, then in Canberra, Australia, where she began studying the oboe at the age of eleven with Sharman Pretty at the Canberra School of Music. Four years later she was awarded the Australian Music Examinations Board Licentiate Performance Diploma. She subsequently returned to England to read Social Anthropology at Girton College, Cambridge, where she was also a University Choral and Instrumental Scholar, before completing her education at the Royal Academy of Music in London and the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada. Whilst at the Academy she won the Croft Original Early Music Prize and the Helen Read Prize for orchestral playing. During her studies she received a number of scholarships from organisations including the Countess of Munster Musical Trust, the Ian Fleming Music Education Awards and the Banff Centre. In 1992 she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship for doctoral study at the Eastman School of Music in the United States.
Permanently based in London since 1994, Althea has played concertos at venues including the Proms at Marble Hill Park, the Purcell Room, St John's Smith Square and St Martin-in-the-Fields, undertaking repeat engagements with the Milton Keynes City Orchestra, the Bath City Orchestra and the Belmont Ensemble of London, and performing with the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra, the Haslemere Musical Society and several other orchestras. In July 1996 she gave the British premiere in London of the oboe concerto The Songs of the Magi by the African-American composer Adolphus Hailstork.
Althea has two duo partnerships: with harpsichordist Katharine May, and pianist Dominic Saunders. She has performed for many concert societies, festivals and promoters. Some of these are the Hampstead & Highgate and Thaxted Festivals, Brighton Philharmonic Society, Horsham Music Circle, Milton Keynes City Church, Music at Duffield, Octagon Music Society, the London School of Economics, the Universities of Aberystwyth, Birmingham, Brunel, Essex and Warwick, and music clubs in Ackworth, Brockenhurst, Curry Rivel, Derby, Dolgellau, Evesham, Holmes Chapel, Lyndhurst, Milverton, Radlett and Seaford. Past recital reviews can be found on the Concert Reviews page.
Althea's duo partnership with Katharine May began in 1994 as scholars on the Countess of Munster Musical Trust Recital Scheme, and since then they have performed throughout the United Kingdom, developing a reputation for excellence in interpretation, presentation and communication with their audiences. In 1996 they broadcast for both Classic FM and RTE FM3, Ireland, and undertook a concert tour of the Irish Republic, generously co-sponsored by the British Council. In 2003/4 they were featured artists for Making Music's Concert Promoters' Network. Their début CD, From Leipzig to London, was released on the Oboe Classics label in March 2006, received a warm critical response, and has been broadcast on public radio as far afield as New Zealand. Reviews can be found on the CD Reviews page.
Althea has worked with pianist Dominic Saunders since 1998. They have given recitals at venues in London and the South-east, for some of the promoters listed above. Recent concerts include evening recitals in concert series at West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge and Milton Keynes City Church, and lunchtime recitals at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London, the LSE concert series and other London churches. Clips of the dress rehearsal for their Cambridge concert can be found on the Videos page.
From July 2006 to July 2007, Althea took a sabbatical from performing, choosing instead to concentrate on enhancing her playing and extending her repertoire. During that time she entered the Paris International Interpretation Competition at Ville d'Avray, near Versailles, which in 2007 featured the oboe. The predominantly French programme comprised recently researched eighteenth-century works by Prover, Devienne and Platti; contemporary repertoire by Jean-Louis Petit, Maurice Ohana and Gilbert Amy; and the Richard Strauss Concerto. Althea was awarded Third Prize, and was the first British prizewinner in ten years of open competition.
In 2009 Althea retired from orchestral playing in order to concentrate on her solo and teaching careers. However, for several years she had a busy career as an orchestral Guest Principal. Previous freelance orchestral work includes Guest Principal Oboe, Oboe d'Amore and Cor Anglais with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra & RPCO, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Opera House Orchestra, the RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. She also spent several seasons at Sadler's Wells Theatre, London, playing Principal Oboe/Cor Anglais in Matthew Bourne's productions of Swan Lake, Nutcracker! and Highland Fling (La Sylphide). Orchestral engagements in the UK have been complemented by international touring to countries including the USA, Australia, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Spain and Eire.
A dedicated teacher, Althea runs a private teaching practice, teaches at summer music festivals, and has given masterclasses at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne.
Althea speaks French and German in addition to English, and has a basic knowledge of Italian.
Althea Talbot-Howard is based in London, England, where she works as a freelance soloist and teacher. She studied at Girton College, Cambridge, the Royal Academy of Music, London, and the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada. She has been awarded a number of scholarships including a Fulbright Scholarship for study in the USA. Althea has played concertos at venues including London's Purcell Room, the Marble Hill Park Proms and St. John's Smith Square; has given recitals for numerous music clubs, festivals, universities and concert promoters throughout the UK, the Irish Republic, Australia and the USA; and has broadcast live on Radio 3, Classic FM, RTE FM3 and ABC FM. Her recent CD - From Leipzig to London - was warmly reviewed in several publications including Gramophone magazine, which described her as "a superb oboist". She has also had the privilege, on several occasions, of performing live for HM the Queen.
In 2007, Althea won Third Prize at the Paris-Ville d'Avray International Oboe Competition, where she was the competition's first British prizewinner. Past orchestral work includes Guest Principal Oboe, Oboe d'Amore and Cor Anglais with a number of orchestras including the RPO and RPCO, the BBCSO, the Royal Opera House Orchestra and the RTE National Symphony Orchestra, in addition to several seasons as Principal Oboe in Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake and Nutcracker! at Sadler's Wells Theatre, London. Further career information can be found on her website at www.altheatalbot-howard.com, where her CD is also available for purchase; and free video clips are available there and on YouTube.