Melinda Maxwell

Tutor in Oboe

BA (York), ARCM, LTCL, HonARAM, MMus (Jazz)


Melinda read music at York University and studied in Germany with Ingo Goritzki and Helmut Winschermann; she has performed as soloist at many festivals including Edinburgh, Aldeburgh and Cheltenham and abroad at the Holland and Aarhus Festivals. She has given many recitals and is frequently heard on BBC Radio 3.

In addition to her work as a chamber musician and recitalist, she is Principal Oboe of the Endymion Ensemble and the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and also performs regularly as Principal with the London Sinfonietta, and for film sessions with the London Metropolitan Orchestra. She is also a member of the improvisation group Notes Inegales.

Melinda has taught at the Royal Academy of Music and Trinity College in London and has been giving masterclasses at the Dartington International Summer School since 1992. She also coaches at the Britten-Pears and NYO summer courses, and in 2013 was awarded an MMus in Jazz Studies from the Birmingham Conservatoire.

Over the years several works have been written for Melinda by composers including Simon Bainbridge, Nicholas Maw, Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Simon Holt (whose works for Melinda include Banshee, Sphinx for cor anglais and tuned gongs, and Disparate/Disparate Dos). Other composers who have written for her include Howard Skempton, Robert Saxton, Jo Kondo, Philip Cashian, David Knotts and Wilfred Mellers.

Melinda is also an accomplished composer, among her pieces are Pibroch and Song for Sidney for solo oboe, a work for double-reed ensemble, Crane Dance, written for the RNCM Woodwind Day in 2008, and ensemble pieces with strings. Singla Rock for mixed quintet was premiered by Endymion at King’s Place in 2009.

Melinda’s CDs include Melinda Maxwell in Manchester: Music for Oboe from the RNCM, Birtwistle’s 26 Orpheus Elegies and Pulse Sampler (among numerous others) for NMC.





Current and Future Research

  • Project with composer David Horne exploring the boundaries between improvisation and the written score.
  • Attended conferences and research seminars giving papers with David Horne in London at Royal Holloway, Senate House, Goldsmiths London University.
  • Publications: Premier CD recording of 26 Orpheus Elegies by Sir Harrison Birtwistle for oboe, harp and counter-tenor. Written for Melinda and involving several performances (mostly at the Cheltenham Festival 2006/7) after which revisions and further additions were added to the score. Extensive collaboration with the composer on extended techniques. Voted CD of the month for BBC Music Magazine in 2009.
  • Future Research: Melinda is negotiating with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, of which she is a member, a commision for a piece by David Horne for her that will incorporate improvisatory techniques, observations and discoveries from the research project. 
  • Inspired by her work with David, Melinda completed and gained an MMus in Jazz Studies in 2013. This educative experience in the jazz idiom will feed into her future improvisations and research.

College and External Research Roles

  • Setting up Reserach activity at Birmingham Conservatoire to explore composition and performance in Jazz Oboe. This will involve performing and recording with an ensemble.

Research Funding

  • RNCM funding for masters degree course in jazz
  • RNCM funding for travel to conferences in UK of papers given by myself and David Horne

Undergraduate Teaching

  • RNCM Senior Tutor in Oboe since 2001
  • Planning oboe classes that cover a wide range of performance activities from solo performance in contemporary music to studying oboe obligati in arias by Bach.
  • Coaching all types of wind ensembles and mixed ensembles and encouraging students to use their groups as a creative forum for arranging their own music.
  • In classes and 1to1 tuition I use improvisation as a tool to extend aural instincts and create confidence in the students performance powers. For example, I often use my own invented musical games exploiting pulse and rhythm and ones that explore pitch and melodic sense. For both examples there are rules that define the process and create structure. This activity, as well as developing their playing also activates their imaginations so that composing their own cadenzas for a Mozart concerto or baroque sonata is not so daunting.
  • RNCM Masterclasses for public college events
  • NYO Tutor in Oboe since 2009. Next courses December 2013 and July 2014.
  • Masterclasses at Birmingham Conservatoire (April 2013) and Trinity London (March 2014)
  • Visiting Oboe Tutor Birmingham Conservatoire
  • International masterclasses in Cincinatti (USA July 2009), Madrid (February 2011), Beijing (October 2012)

Postgraduate Teaching

  • RNCM Masterclasses for public events
  • Masterclasses at Birmingham Conservatoire (April 2013) and Trinity London (March 2014)
  • International masterclasses in Cincinatti (USA July 2009), Madrid (February 2011), Beijing (October 2012)
  • Oboe Tutor at the Britten-Pears School for Advanced Musical Studies; the Orchestral course and Contemporary Composition and Performance course



  • Harrison Birtwistle Premier Recording Orpheus Elegies, Melinda Maxwell Oboe, Harp and Counter-Tenor, Oboe Classics, All Saints Church East Finchley London, 2008
  • Melinda Maxwell, Adam Gorb, Maxwell Davies, Anthony Gilbert, Martin Butler, Harrison Birtwistle, Edward Gregson, Larry Goves, Simon Holt Melinda Maxwell in Manchester New Music for Oboe from the RNCM, Melinda Maxwell Oboe, Cor Anglais, harp, percussion, piano, Dutton, St. Paul’s Boys School, London, 2005

Professional Activity

  • Active as oboist in the profession as outlined in biography. On-going performances with the London Sinfonietta, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and the Endymion Ensemble. Trip to Washinghton DC USA April 2014 with BCMG as ensemble member and chamber soloist. Active in BCMG creative education workshops using improvisation.
  • Commissioner of new work for the oboe. To date up to about 20 works. Future commissions include new work by David Horne and Sir Harrison Birtwistle. 
  • Composing music as part of Masters degree course in Jazz 2011-2013 and on-going.
  • Member of Improvising ensemble with Arve Henrickson and Illan Volkov in festival “R!SK” November 2013 Birmingham.
  • Adjudicator of Oboe Recitals at RCM, TCL, Guildhall, Birmingham Conservatoire, RAM
  • Oboe tutor at NYO and Adjudicator for NYO Woodwind and Oboe auditions
  • Oboe tutor at Britten-Pears Course in Contemporary composition and Performance in Snape and the Orchestral programme
  • Member of NMC Artistic panel (Meetings in December 2013)
  • Member of Interview panel for Sound and Music Embedded Scheme (Meetings in November 2013)
  • Member of Interview panel for BCMG Apprentice Composer in Residence Scheme (Interviews in the Autumn next being November 2013)