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
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 articlesShe specialises in leading large cello groups in workshop and group teaching settings and takes the cello programme at Bayswater Suzuki Group.  Helen has taught on courses and workshops including Bryanstone International Chamber Music Course, CelloFest, Pro Corda Cello Course and LCS Cello Days. 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. 

Helen also plays the double bass, and enjoys engaging with various orchestral communities from the very roots of the orchestra!  She loves exploring the symphonic repertoire and being at the very foundation of the smaller chamber orchestra works and frequently plays as guest principal for various 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.

 Autumn 2016 forthcoming highlights include:
Fri 16th September: 7.30pm, St Alfege Church, Greenwich: St Paul's Sinfonia (double bass) - programme includes Beethoven "Creatures of Prometheus"; Colin Matthews "Spiralling" and Mendelssohn Symphony no. 4 "Italian"
23rd-25th September: Teaching @ Edinburgh Suzuki Workshop.  Looking forward to teaching the children in my home country!  Cello faculty includes Ruben Rivera (France) and Lucy Gillan (Scotland). 
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.

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!


                              Photo by Irena Pechon

Past engagements include:


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




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 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


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