Ruth Contractor

Photo of Ruth Contractor

Professor of Cor Anglais


Ruth fell in love with the cor anglais at an early age and was rather disappointed to be told that she had to learn the oboe first!  Years later she was accepted on to the prestigious Manchester University and RNCM “Joint Course”, studying oboe with Peter Graeme and Robin Canter, cor anglais with Bernard O’Keefe and baroque oboe with Claire Shanks. After Manchester she won a DAAD scholarship to study in Stuttgart with Professor Ingo Goritzki for 2 years, a formative experience due to his rigorous teaching method and for the contacts and playing experiences she gained whilst living in Europe.


Since returning to the UK she has enjoyed a wonderfully varied freelance career with a particular emphasis on ‘doubling’.   She is Principal Oboe of Scottish Ballet but has worked with almost all of the UK orchestras on oboe and cor.  Highlights have included playing Principal Oboe for Leonard Bernstein, Claudio Abbado and Charles Mackerras as well as many projects on second oboe and cor anglais with (among others) the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia, English Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Academy of St Martin in the Fields, English National Opera, all the BBC Orchestras, and at the Royal Opera House with conductors such as Bernard Haitink, Simon Rattle, Valery Gergiev, Antonio Pappano, Andris Nelsons, Pierre Boulez, Colin Davis, Nicholas Harnoncourt, Gustavo Dudamel, Lorin Maazel, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Neville Marriner.  Equally at home on stage, in the pit, in the West End or a recording studio, she has even performed at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz club, a personal highlight!


Extensive touring over the years has allowed her to indulge her passions for travel, culture and food whilst working, but her favourite part of the job is listening to her brilliant colleagues and being surrounded by music.


Ruth has given Masterclasses as far afield as Italy and India and is delighted to be teaching at her old College where she hopes to persuade her students that freelancing is fun and adaptability and variety are the keys to an enjoyable career in music.