Helen Benson

Flute

− Often on stage after concerts I am struck by the silent, empty hall and think how strange it is that following all that sound, emotion and energy there is nothing tangible left, just a big empty still space and silence. I really enjoy and value being part of that live abstract creation.

Helen Benson
  • Member since: 2014
  • Born: 1981, Southampton, England
  • Education: Chetham's School of Music, Manchester, UK. Bachelors degree at Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London. Masters degree at Swedish National Orchestra Academy (Göteborg Academy of Music & Drama), Göteborg, Sweden.
  • Orchestral experience: From 2006−2011 worked in Mexico City with Minería Symphony Orchestra, Mexico City Philharmonic, Mexico State Symphony Orchestra, Camerata de las Américas, Bellas Artes Theatre Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra. Regular recitals and recordings with Cameristas de México wind quintet and her own group Áureo Ensemble. From 2012−2014 worked as regular substitute with Göteborgs Symfoniker, Sweden. Has been a guest musician with BBC Concert Orchestra, Göteborgs Operan, Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra, Bergen Philharmonic, Norwegian Opera and Norwegian Chamber Orchestra.

Helen Benson remembers well the first moment she heard a flute in an orchestra:

− I was six years old and I immediately wanted to play a sparkly silver tube myself! Many teachers, concerts and experiences along the way had a big impact on me but I think deciding to leave my regular school and go to Chetham’s School of Music when I was 16 years old was my clearest early step towards becoming a professional musician.

Born in England, she´s found working in different countries very rewarding:

− For years, I studied or worked as a musician in several very contrasting countries and environments including England, Japan, Mexico and Sweden before settling in Norway. I feel these experiences and interactions with different people, cultures and situations are what have shaped me the most into the musician I am today.

− You never reach a point where you have arrived and can stop

She loves that being a musician is a neverending process of learning and developing.

− You never reach a point where you have arrived and can stop. That's what's fun about being musician. There is always more repertoire to learn, techniques to improve and experience to gain. I love the challenge and excitement of live performance and the chance to work so closely and long-term as a huge team, finding my individual role in the big picture.

The abstract nature of what the orchestra “produces” as artists fascinates her:

− Often after concerts when cleaning my flute on stage I am struck by the silent, empty hall and think how strange it is that following all that sound, emotion and energy there is nothing tangible left, just a big empty still space and silence. I really enjoy and value being part of that live abstract creation.

Loves to tour with the orchestra

Helen joined the Oslo Philharmonic in 2014. She especially loves to tour with the orchestra:

− Not only is it a great chance for us to get to know new cities, new venues and each other as a group, but I also often experience the tour concerts to have an extra electric and exciting edge! I particularly enjoyed the 2014 Japan tour and the performances in Edinburgh festival in 2015.

She has many favourite composers, but one stands out:

− The composer I think I feel closest to in expression and meaning is Shostakovich. I love his writing and feel great affinity with his music both as a player and as a listener. For us flute and piccolo-players the 15 Shostakovich symphonies are perhaps some of the most exciting, exposed and challenging parts in the orchestral repertoire. I am also a great fan of J.S.Bach, Brahms, Ravel, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and Takemitsu.

Her advice to get the best possible concert experience as a listener in the audience is to get to know the music a little bit before the concert:

− Of course, it is nice sometimes to have fresh listening experiences but I myself usually enjoy concerts much more if I am already a little bit acquainted with the works beforehand. I find I can then go deeper into the music, seek more and gain more from the live experience, not only meet the piece for the first time.

When she´s not playing, Helen loves to dance tango, cook, swim and run in the forest.