A teenage prodigy on the flute, I played my first television concerto live at the Royal Albert Hall aged fourteen. In addition to playing, I have guested on UK television and radio shows, including: Lunchtime Pebble Mill (BBCtv), The John Dunn Show, Start The Week, Kaleidoscope, Good Morning! and many other highly rated programmes.
Atarah’s Music Box was all about children and music, and was networked on BBC Radio Three for three years.
Omnibus devoted a whole programme to my work, as did Blue Peter and Magpie.
My musical stories for little children in Rub-A-Dub-Tub on Sunday mornings ran for over two years. And BRMB (Birmingham), Radio City (Liverpool), Radio Merseyside (Liverpool), Radio Piccadilly (Manchester), Red Rose Radio (Preston, Lancashire) and many other stations carried my radio series over the years.
I have played in just about every possible combination of musicians where a flute can be found, and also started two ensembles of my own. The Dubois Trio (once in Wales we arrived to find the front-of-house bill read The Dubious Trio, but that’s show business) consisted of myself on flute, picc and alto flute, with Keith Wood (French-speakers will get the pun in the trio’s name) on oboe and Rosemary Braga on harpsichord.
Colin Kitchin on viola, Dietrich Bethge on cello, John Harper on classical and electric guitars and Paul Mitchell-Davidson on fretless electric bass. The Arts Council and Gulbenkian Foundation funded several compositions for us and a performance by the ensemble at the Royal Northern College of Music was one of the twin highlights of the Omnibus programme on BBCtv about me and my work; the other was film footage of a children’s concert with Atarah’s Band.
In 1975, depressed by how awful most children’s concerts apart from those of Sir Malcolm Sargent and Leonard Bernstein were, I founded Atarah’s Band with my husband Douglas Boyd. Now a full-time author (two of his novels feature musicians). Douglas was then a BBC Television Producer, and helped me produce and put on the road a unique music show for modern children, introducing them to the classical repertoire and motivating them to learn an instrument. The Band filled major halls throughout the UK, from Snape Maltings in the east to Queen’s Hall, Belfast and Theatre Royal, Plymouth in the west, and from London’s Royal Festival Hall and Barbican Centre in the south to Aberdeen in the far north. It was also booked by virtually all the most prestigious festivals in Britain and the Hong Kong Festival, as well as the managements of RLPO, CBSO and the Hallé. By the time the Band came off the road (sheer exhaustion made us stop) it had treated more than three million children to an experience likened to a cross between a symphony concert and a circus, a pantomime and a pop show. Many of the live concerts were special schools’ performances. It also had its own television series on BBCtv Northwest, Granada TV, Thames TV, as well as radio series all over Britain.
Throughout my orchestral days, I played on a wooden Rudall Carte, Galway hated it and so did Rampal, and when I played in an impromptu quartet in Israel with Julius Baker, Uri Teplitz and Orel Nicolet they thought I was mad, but I preferred the way a wooden instrument sounds with the oboe, clarinet and bassoon in the woodwind section. I now play on a silver Altus with a superb Oxley gold head-joint. My picc is also a Rudall Carte.
The children’s concerts gave me contact with thousands of teachers, whose questions led to wondering why so many children fail at learning an instrument. The accepted wisdom is that the failures lack something called musicality, yet nobody, including the Gulbenkian Foundation which did research in 17 countries, has ever defined what that quality is, so it can’t be the reason. To find out what was, we bought half a street of derelict houses in Rossendale, North of Manchester, and converted them into an independent music research centre. Occupying 44 rooms in five adjacent stone houses, the centre was an independent charity, which existed for several years to find the answers to many normally unasked (because taboo) questions about children and music.
Principal with Ballet Rambert and Sadlers Wells Opera.
I was appointed First Flute, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in 1963, after Fritz Spiegel left. Jimmy Galway (who studied at the Royal College while I was at the Academy) also auditioned at the same time, but I got the job! Playing under conductors including Sargent, Boult, Beecham, Barbirolli, Colin and Andrew Davis, Simon Rattle, John Pritchard and our resident conductor, Sir Charles Groves, who was also a wonderful person, was to me such a joy that I always wondered why they paid me - not that musicians earned much in those days. For twelve years until 1975 I stayed Principal with Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, but also played on occasion with Philharmonia, English Chamber Orchestra, Hallé, Northern Sinfonia.
During this period, my solo work included concertos with Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic, BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra.
Qualifications & Honours
At various times, I have been Professor of Flute at Liverpool University, Royal Northern College of Music, Lancaster University, Huddersfield Polytechnic.Even during my years on the road with Atarah’s Band I enjoyed teaching flute too much to give it up entirely, despite all the pressures of 200 days of concerts each year. Except that really I don’t teach the instrument, but the pupil, because every learner is different.In addition to private consultation or assessment lessons, I am much involved in flute courses for children, music students, teachers and adult amateurs of all standards from beginners to Diploma level.
Representative Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, South West of France. If you want to take one of these internationally recognised exams, which range from Preparatory Grade to professional performing and teaching diplomas (LRSM), call or fax me for details of exams at nine centres in the region.
Director of Music Studies Bordeaux International School
Soloist and presenter of the Ensemble Aliénor. Also featuring Stella Marisova (a sublime soprano from Czech Republic, who was soloist with Bruno Opera) and Patrick Hilliard (a dream of a pianist). Repertoire includes works for voice, flute and piano by Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Purcell, St-Saens, Ravel, Rodrigo, Bax and many Czech folk songs and arias from oratorios and opera. For availability of the Ensemble, call or fax. Check concerts for updated information.
Presenter the Flute Orchestra of London in ‘A Feast of Fluting’. Check concerts for updated information.
I love programming and presenting live concerts - especially orchestral ones - for children and family audiences. For hosting flute courses anytime, anywhere, and one-to-one assessment lessons, call or fax.