HELEN HABERSHON – BIOGRAPHY
As a composer and clarinettist with a distinguished performance history, music has always been a part of Helen’s life. Strongly encouraged by her very talented mother, she began playing the recorder at the age of 4 and went on to the clarinet at age 10. By now she was also composing and winning composition prizes at local music competitions and playing regularly with her flautist twin sister, Cathrine, with whom she later went on to perform together as the ‘Saunders Twins and Friends’ with much international success.
Having continued to focus on performance, Helen won scholarships and exhibitions to Dartington College of Arts, the Royal College of Music, where she studied with the legendary Sydney Fell, and the IHEM in Switzerland where she had the fortune of receiving tutelage from some of the world’s leading musicians.
Helen also won the notice of Gervase de Peyer who singled her out, heralding her as the next Thea King after she played at one of his masterclasses at the Dartington Summer School. He took her on as his only student and she feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to study with him alongside Syd, describing her lessons with them both as truly inspirational.
After Switzerland and a spell as principal clarinettist of the Academy of the BBC under Norman Del Mar, his favoured principal, Helen was appointed principal clarinettist of the Gulbenkian Orchestra at the age of 22. Helen has performed as a soloist in prestigious venues in many countries in Europe, and a highlight was a concerto with her twin sister at the Lincoln Center with the New York Chamber Symphony Orchestra under Gerard Schwarz. She has appeared on television (including Sir Michael Parkinson) and radio on many occasions and has performed alongside icons such as Sir Cliff Richard and Dame Vanessa Redgrave.
Having established a career as an international clarinettist, a twist of fate resulted in her going back to serious composition. Unable to play the clarinet for a couple of months due to two broken wrists she was allowed to play the piano. As a result she found herself hooked and the music began to flow from her pencil!
Her first three albums, ‘Found in the Rain’ (2009), ‘Found in the Sunlight’ (2014) and ‘Found in Winter’ (2018) were all immediately taken up by global Classic FM as ‘Album of the Month’ and ‘Albums of the Week’ respectively. They are played worldwide and have also enjoyed much success in the United States. The tracks Found in the Rain and Far Out in the Ocean, are well known to many Classic FM listeners. The former was selected by Georgia Mann for her playlist on Essential Classics on BBC Radio 3 and the latter was a jingle on Anne-Marie Minhall’s request programme.
On her previous album, ‘Found in Dreams’, (Divine Art DDA 25225 released in March 2022), Helen once again collaborated with John Lenehan. That recording is a diverse mix of what she describes as some of her very favourite pieces including beautiful arrangements by John, some delightful new compositions by them both and a few select movements of outstanding standard clarinet repertoire from Brahms and Finzi. This prompted them to produce this current album.
Helen is deeply influenced and inspired by nature and this can be easily recognised in much of her music. When she was 8 years old she remembers looking out of her bedroom window on to a wood and hearing her first tune which she knows to this day. This has been a regular occurrence and she feels very blessed to be the recipient of what she feels can only be described as a magical source of inspiration. Another example was in Brittany in 2003. Whilst swimming in the sea she noticed that all around her was sea, sky and a sandy beach and that it could have been a million years ago. In that moment she heard a tune which was to become ‘A Million Years Ago.’
Helen cares deeply about ‘our beautiful planet’ and in 2016 she was appointed ‘Composer in Residence’ for the very exciting Ice Warrior program with polar explorer and keynote speaker Jim McNeill, with an invitation to join an expedition to the North Pole, postponed now until 2023! Despite their totally different backgrounds of musician and explorer they decided to collaborate by giving inspirational talks on the theme of music and nature which have been enthusiastically received. Helen has written ‘Farewell Ice’ for the project, inspired
by the Arctic. Her music is also featured at Jim’s icon interview series at HQS Wellington, London. She is also currently working at an audio book with her own story and music.
Helen would like to thank her family and friends for their wonderful support and encouragement. Also, she makes a very special mention to ‘Help Musicians’ for their invaluable support. In her own words: ‘They have helped me and so many other musicians in challenging times and are a much cherished institution.’
Helen cares deeply about ‘ our beautiful planet’ and in 2016 she was appointed ‘Composer in Residence’ for the very exciting Ice Warrior program with polar explorer and keynote speaker Jim McNeill, with an invitation to join an expedition to the North Pole! They have recently collaborated in giving talks on the theme of music and nature which have been enthusiastically received. https://www.ice-warrior.com/ice-warrior-staff
Helen has now recently recorded her 3rd album, Found in the Winter, again with world class pianist and arranger John Lenehan, and with London Primavera Orchestra, conducted by Tony Halstead. They are joined by John Anderson, one of the most recorded oboists in the world.
This album is now available to purchase from the Divine Art Record Label.