Helen Neilson


Cellist, teacher and Double Bass Player

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            "When I practise, I am a philosopher,

                  When I teach, I am a scientist,

             When I demonstrate, I am an artist."

                                     B.K.S. Iyengar



Helen Neilson is a freelance cellist and double bass player and cello tutor based in London. She combines an active performing career with regular teaching commitments in some of London's most prestigious schools and a busy home teaching practice in South London. She is interested in working with students from a variety of backgrounds at all stages on their cellistic journeys. Helen is a qualified Suzuki teacher to level 4 and
holds an MMus in Performance Studies. Her own cello studies included time working with Anna Shuttleworth, Melissa Phelps and Naomi Butterworth.
 
She enjoys exploring the use of body and mind in music performance, and shares the findings of her research in lesson and workshop settings and through conferences and articlesA strong interest is the impact of environment upon development.  She specialises in leading large cello groups in workshop and group teaching settings and leads the cello programme and coaches chamber music at Bayswater Suzuki Group.  Courses and workshops taught on include Bryanstone International Chamber Music Course, CelloFest, Pro Corda Cello Course and LCS Cello Days. Her schools include Latymer Upper School (inc. Head of Strings); St Paul's Girls' School and the Sir John Cass Foundation Primary School in Aldgate.  She is on the advisory council to the London Cello Society, having  previously been the director of Cello Club, their Junior Division.  She is particularly interested in creating environments and designing events which inspire and motivate students.  Helen has experience of both teaching on and designing and managing events for young string players. She is also interested in professional development for teachers and is currently consultant and mentor to the team of cello teachers on the London Music Masters Programme, bringing quality music tuition to children in inner city London primary schools.

Helen also plays the double bass, and enjoys engaging with various orchestral communities from the very roots of the orchestra!  She loves exploring the large scale symphonic repertoire and being at the very foundation of the smaller chamber orchestra works and frequently plays as guest principal for various professional freelance and community orchestras.  She enjoys exploring the chamber music repertoire on the bass and has had fun playing at various festivals and on tours around the UK and abroad.  She enjoys the range of characters she meets along the way and the perspective it gives her into a wide range of interesting environments.

Frothcoming concert and student workshop highlights include:                
 
[These are highlights only. Full diary for fixers is kept with MAS on 01306 500011]
 
Sunday 8th October: Cello Folk!  Workshop for young cellists grade 1-5+ @ Cecil Sharp House.  Details and booking on London Cello Society website: www.londoncellos.org.
 
Saturday 18th November: Bayswater Suzuki Group Annual Concert @ St Peter's Church, Notting Hill.  Details on BSG website.  Programme to include Mendelssohn Octet.
 
Sunday 25th March 2018: Leading cello groups @ London Suzuki Group Annual Concert at Cadogan Hall
 
Saturday 14th-Sunday 15th April 2018: Teaching workshops @ Go Cello Festival, Trinity Laban, Greenwich.  Tickets and information on London Cello Society website: www.londoncellos.org
 
Thursday 14th June 2018: St Paul's Sinfonia @ Cadogan Hall (double bass).  Programme to include: Debussy: La Mer; Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherezade and a new work by Tim Jackson.
 
2017 concert appearances include:
 
Thu 10th August, Montalba-le-Chateau, France.  Schubert: Octet (double bass)
 
Weds 9th August, Codalet, France.  Prokofiev: Quintet (double bass)
 
Tuesday 18th July 1.15pm St Bride's Church, Fleet Street, EC4Y 8AU: Helen Neilson (cello) and Mine Dogantan-Dack: Chopin: Introduction and Polonaise Brilliante, op. 3.  Shared recital with fellow performers Jonatan Bought (guitar), Constance Leung (piano) and Nigel Blomiley (cello)
 
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Friday 5th May, 7.00pm. All Saint's Church, Fulham: Faculty of St Paul's Girls' School: Paulina Quintet - Ted Barry (violin); James Sleigh (viola); Erica Simpson (cello); Helen Neilson (double bass); John York (piano); joined by Anna Boucher (singer)
Schubert: "Die Forelle" op. 32, D 550 - song by Anna Boucher; Piano Quintet in A major, D667 "The Trout"
 
 
Friday 19th May, 7.30pm, St Alfege Greenwich: St Paul's Sinfonia (principal double bass) with Rivka Golani (viola); Susan Jiwey (soprano); Benjie de Rosario (tenor); Stephen Kennedy (baritone) and Andrew Morley (conductor):
 
Mendelssohn: "Son and Stranger" Overture; Douglas Finch: Night Love Song; Stravinsky: Pulcinella
 
Sunday 21st May, 2pm, Burgh House, Hampstead: Marmara trio and friends: Mona Kodama (violin); Juan Drown (viola); Thomas Gregory (cello); Helen Neilson (double bass); Mine Dogantan-Dack (piano): programme to include Schubert "The Trout" Piano Quintet in A major, D667
 
Wednesday 24th May, 1.05pm, St Botolph Without Aldgate Church: a programme of works for cello duet and organ by composers who were also teachers, featuring the earliest surviving church organ in London. This is a concert for the children of the Sir John Cass Foundation Primary School.  Open to all too.  Come early to get a seat - it will be busy! Free entry, retiring collection.
 
Helen Neilson (cello) and Thomas Gregory (cello) + Martin Neilson (organ)
 
Bach, arr. Casals: Adagio from Toccata in C Major for organ (arr. for 2 cellos and organ by Casals/H.Neilson); Hindemith: Frölich (cello duet); Dotzauer: Variations on "La ci darem la mano" (cello duet); Klengel: Three pieces for 2 cellos and organ, op. 62
 
Student workshops include:
 
Sunday 5th February, 10.00am - 3.00pm, Book 1 Bonanza!  Kingsdale School, SE21 8SQ: Violin leader: Michiko Takahashi; Cello leader: Helen Neilson - application details on London Suzuki Group website - open to Pre-Twinkle and Suzuki book 1 students - a fun day of group activities for little string players!
 

Mon 27th March: Latymer Upper Strings Day - the Ultimate Strings Party!!!!  All Latymer string players welcome - preps and Upper School!  Brilliant guest presenters giving workshops on world music and improvisation are Joe Townsend (violin) and Neil Valentine (viola).  7pm evening concert to include lots of our string chamber groups and items from workshop sessions.  We are delighted to be welcoming children from the whole class strings programme at Sir John Cass Primary School to join us for this exciting event!
 
Sun 23rd April: Teaching @ London Cello Society "Cello Mad", 10.00 - 3.30pm @ Hampstead Town Hall.  Faculty includes Wolfgang Lehner and Oliver Mansfield.  Apply on London Cello Society website.  Open to students and adult amateurs grades 1-8+.
 
Sat 17th June: Bayswater Suzuki Group concert morning at St James's Church, Bayswater. 
Repertoire for this term to include Brahms Sextet in B flat and Tchaikovsky: Souvenir de Florence
 
11-15th July: Coaching @ Bayswater Chamber Music Course. Concert 11.00am Sat 15th July at St Peter's Church, Notting Hill.
 
24th - 28th July: Teaching @ Dulwich Suzuki Camp - faculty includes Clare Raybould, Michiko Takahashi, Juan Drown, Mallory Hamm
Website: https://dulwichsuzukicamp.wixsite.com/dulwichsuzukicamp
 
1-14th August, Prades Festival, France (double bass)
 
20th - 27th August: Teaching and performing @ Bryanstone International Chamber Music Course, Bryanstone School, Blandford Forum, Dorset
 
30th August - 1st September: Orchestral course with London Music Masters and In Harmony Lambeth @ Wheatsheaf Halls.  Conductor, William Carslake.
 

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                              Photo by Irena Pechon

Past engagements include:

 

2016 events included:

 
Fri 18th November - 7.30pm, St Alfege Church, Greenwich - St Paul's Sinfonia (double bass) : Sibelius: Rakastava; Milhaud: Le Boeuf sur le Toit; Barber: Cello Concerto (Alison Holford); Sibelius: En Saga
 
Sat 19th November: Bayswater Suzuki Group Annual Concert at St Peter's Church, Notting Hill - to include cello groups and string quartet performances with students
 
 Sunday 27th November: The Amadeus Centre W9 2JA 10am-3pm: London Cello Society workshop for young student cellists grades 1-5 "Around the World with Music" led by Pavlos Carvahlo, assisted by Helen Neilson and Sarah Carvalho-Dubost - tickets from London Cello Society website.  Exploration of folk music from different cultures: Emglish, Hungarian, Greek, Argentinian and Brazilian.
 
 
 
2016 summer events included:
 
 
Tue 12th - Sat 16th July: Coaching @ Bayswater Chamber Music Course - great Bartok Divertimento by the chamber orchestra!!
 
21st/22nd July: Guest principal bass for Amadeus Orchestra - concerts @ Exeter Cathedral and Wiltshire Music Trust - Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue; Finzi: Cello Concerto with Raphael Wallfish; Stravinsky: Petrouchka
 
24th - 31st July: Cellos at Belle-Serre, Castres, France - wonderful week of cello masterclasses, ensembles and chamber music, led by Lowri Blake.
 
Weds 10th - Sun14th August:  Teaching @ CelloFest - Royal Hospital School, Suffolk.  Brilliant meet up of cellists of all ages!!  Great faculty line up including Carey Beth Hockett (USA); Eulalia Subira (Spain); Ana Toca (Spain).
 
21st-28th August: Teaching and playing @ Bryanstone International Summer School, Dorset.  A wonderful week of chamber music and individual lessons with students from many different countries.  Course Director Christine Livingstone.  Cello faculty includes Carey-Beth Hockett (USA); Jadie Carey (UK) and Jon Cottle (Spain). Faculty recital performance of Schubert: Trout Quintet (bass) with Tony Ingham (piano) and friends.
 
23rd-25th September: Teaching @ Edinburgh Suzuki Workshop.  Enjoyed teaching the children in my home country!  Cello faculty includes Ruben Rivera (France) and Lucy Gillan (Scotland). 
 

Spring term highlights included:
 
Sun 17th April: Teaching @ Cello Day with London Cello Society - our first student event at the new venue of Trinity Laban in Greenwich.  Awesome faculty line up including David Kenedy, Joely Koos, Alison Moncrieff-Kelly and Anita Strevens.  Masterclasses with Leonid Gorokhov.  Great day had!

 Weds 16th March: An army of Latymer Upper School cellists play Villa-Lobos: Bachianas Brasilieras no. 5 @ St John's Smith Square!!  With Jessica Powell, soprano.

 
Sun 27th March: International Suzuki Gala Concert @ Royal Albert Hall (playing double bass in string ensemble).  Was wonderful to welcome friends and colleagues from all over the world and to share the stage with our students!

 

 2015 Events included:

 25th - 30th October: teaching @ Pro Corda Cello Course, Leiston Abbey, Suffolk  - directed by David Burrowes; faculty includes Anita Strevens, Joely Koos, Zoe Martlew and Alexander Baillie

 

Sat 31st October  Coaching @ Joint Strings Day for SPGS and SPBS students and other local students @ St Paul's Boys' School, Barnes

Sun 15th November: workshop leading for "Vamoosh Cello Day" with Thomas Gregory for the London Cello Society @ The Amadeus Centre.  Tickets available on the London Cello Society website. 
 
Sun 22nd November: leading string groups @ the Groups Festival at Royal College Of Music
 
Sun 29th November: chamber music recital with The Colour House Ensemble @ The Colour House Theatre, Merton Abbey Mills (double bass)
 
Mon 30th November: double bass and piano recital with Daniel Hewson @ St Peter's Church, Notting Hill, 1pm.  Programme to include works by Lennox Berkeley; David Ellis and Serge Lancen.
 
Holiday courses, festivals and workshops from summer 2015 included:

21st - 25th July: teaching @ Bayswater Chamber Music Course - directed by Jillian Leddra

29th July - 9th August: Opera de Bauge, Bauge-en-Anjou, France: cello - playing in opera orchestra

12th - 16th August: teaching @ CelloFest at The Royal Hospital School, Suffolk - directed by Tessa Oakley; faculty includes Carey Beth Hockett (USA); Ruben Rivera (France); Ana Toca (Spain)

16th - 23rd August: teaching @ Bryanstone International Chamber Music Course - directed by Christine Livingstone; cello faculty includes Carey Beth-Hockett (USA); Jadie Carey (UK) and Jon Cottle (Spain).

February 8th: Home studio cello class with Christine Livingstone @ Alleyn's School, Dulwich 2-6pm - to include group work on basics of tone production and posture; mini lessons for all; ensemble items Bach: Arioso and Tchaikovsky: Chanson Triste

March 4th: Latymer Upper Strings Day - great workshops had with visiting presenters Thomas Gregory and Laura Cochrane on Vamoosh!; Neil Valentine and Matthew Forbes doing some funky improvisation! Plus evening concert with students and staff chamber music items.  ** Excited about playing in our home string faculty and visiting presenters Mendelssohn Octet, led by our own student Sofia Kolupov!** Fun and eclectic concert - with workshop items; Beethoven op. 95; Schumann Piano Quintet!

March 31st: Strauss "Eine Alpeinsinfonie" with Duet Group Philharmonic @ Royal Festival Hall (playing cello + section coach)

April 16th:  St Pauls' Sinfonia 10th Anniversary Concert @ Queen Elizabeth Hall 7.30pm (cello) - Wagner: Siegfried Idyll; Stravinsky Symphony in C; Shostakovich Cello Concerto with Guy Johnston; Mozart Symphony no. 31 "Paris" **Ten years we have been playing together now - this will be a celebration to remember!**

Sun April 26th: teaching @ Cello Day @ the Royal Academy of Music - a day devoted to preparation for ABRSM examinations for school age cello students

Fri 26th June 7.30pm St James' Piccadilly Guest Principal double bass w/ Corinthian Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Mike Seal:

Copland: Appalachian Spring; Mozart: Piano Concert in E flat major; Stravinsky: Symphony in Three Movements;
 
Sat 27th June 11.15am Elgar: Introduction and Allegro with Bayswater Suzuki Group
 
Thu 9th July: 1-2pm Double bass and piano Recital @ St John's Church Notting Hill with Daniel Hewson:
Eccles: Sonata in G minor; Ellis: Sonata; Lennox Berkeley: Introduction and Allegro; Lancen:Croquis
 

Summer school 2014 coaching engagements included:

July: Bayswater Chamber Music Course; course director Jillian Leddra - coaching small groups and assisting chamber orchestra

August:  Bryanston International Summer School, Bryanston School, Dorset; course director Christine Livingstone; faculty includes Carey-Beth Hockett - teaching cello and double bass in open lessons; playing double bass in orchestra; chamber music recitals on cello including Elgar Piano Quintet with Tony Ingham.

 

2014 highlights included:

December: Corinthian Chamber Orchestra @ Queen Elizabeth Hall with Paul Hoskins (principal double bass): Tchaikovsky: Romeo and Juliet Overture; Shostakovich: Piano concerto no.2;  Stravinsky "The Firebird"

December: Britten: Noyes' Fludde and Chilcott: A Little Jazz Mass (double bass) @ SPGS

November: Home studio class performance evening with Jocelyn Abbott (piano) and David Kenedy in East Dulwich

August: Elgar Piano Quintet @ Bryanstone International Chamber Music Course - with Tony Ingham (piano) 

July - August:  St Endellion Festival, St Endellion, Cornwall (double bass) Artistic Director: Mark Padmore; Conductors: Ryan Wigglesworth and Aidan Oliver

Repertoire included: Puccini La Boheme; Bach Mass in B Minor; Britten Nocturne; Tchaikovsky Symphony no. 5; Beethoven Mass in C major; Brahms Piano Concerto no. 1; Concerts @ St Endellion and Truro Cathedral

Chamber music concert: Schubert: Gesang der Geister uber den Wassern (double bass) with singers including Marc Padmore, Roderick Williams, Peter Hoare, Robert Davies

July:  Exeter Cathedral: Amadeus Orchestra (principal double bass) Strauss: Don Juan; Elgar: Cello Concerto with Raphael Wallfisch; Shostakovich: Symphony no. 5

April: Cello Day @ RAM - leading junior classes for lots and lots of little cellists - wonderful new composition from Thomas Gregory!

February: Home studio performance class with Anita Strevens, including massed Vivaldi Double Cello Concerto

December/January: Tour of China with Kent Sinfonia

 

Highlights of 2012 – 2013 season included:

July/August: St Endellion Festival, Cornwall – principal/co-principal double bass in orchestra for a wide range of programmes and a variety of chamber music recitals

June: Stravinsky "L'Historie du Soldat" (A Soldier's Tale)  - double bass with the Simon Callaghan Ensemble, Narrated by Timothy West

June: Cello and piano recitals with John Cuthbert – Spanish and Latin American repertoire

 April London Cello Society "Cello Day" at the Royal Academy of Music, visiting teachers included Leonid Gorokhov, Aaron Minsky, William Bruce and Thomas Gregory. 

April Aaron Minsky workshops and concert at Latymer Upper School.  Performance of Three American Cello Duets by Helen Neilson and Aaron Minsky.

March Prinicpal cello for performance of Mahler Symphony no. 8 "Symphony of a Thousand" at Royal Festival Hall with students from schools including Latymer Upper School 

September  Schumann Fantasiestucke and Chopin Sonata with Irina Lyakhovskaya

August: Gordon Jacob " A Little Concerto" for double bass and string orchestra at the ESTA Summer School, Cheltenham

August: Bottesini Concerto no. 1 for double bass (B minor version) - in masterclass with Thomas Martin at ESTA Summer School, Cheltenham

 

 

 

 
 
NEWS
 
During 2013-2014 Helen successfully completed Suzuki level 3 teacher training which included the opportunity to work with teachers on the international circuit including Carey-Beth Hockett and Pam Devenport and included an inspirational trip to the Vic Cello Festival in Catalonia in 2014.
 
The ESTA International Conference in August 2013 in Oxford was a great success with delegates attending from many different countries to exchange ideas about string teaching.  We also enjoyed the gala dinner at Christchurch College!
 
Helen played bass with the Symphony Orchestra of India in Mumbai in 2012.  She much enjoyed travelling to one of her favourite cities in the world!! 
 
 
In November 2009, Helen gave the premiere performance of the solo cello version of Paul Barker's "Seven Dirty Sonnets".

Read about the work of Paul Barker

 

 

CELLO CLUB NEWS

Cello Club event with Thomas Gregory at the Royal Academy of Music: "Vamoosh!" was a great success.  Students loved Thomas's cool and funky tunes and enjoyed playing in massed cello ensemble groups.  Lots of happy faces!
 
Cello Day at the Royal Academy of Music was enjoyed by around 120 student cellists from grade 1 - 8+ levels. It was wonderful having Aaron Minsky in town, all the way from the US, with his jazzy cello compositions!


London Cello Society website

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Email: helen@helenelizabethneilson.com; Diary (MAS): 01306 500011