Press Releases

RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra appoints Helena Wood as Leader

22 March 2013: The RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra today announced the appointment of Helena Wood as Leader of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, with effect from 19 June 2013.

Helena's busy international career sees her much in demand as a leader, director, soloist and chamber musician. Currently Principal Violin at English National Opera, she regularly guest-leads major orchestras including the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Cape Town Opera. Recent work includes leading the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the BBC 2012 Proms and a two-month period in Sydney as Concertmaster of Australian Opera.

As a concerto soloist, Helena has performed with orchestras including the BBC Philharmonic, London Mozart Players, Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra and English Sinfonia at venues including the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Barbican Hall and St Martin-in-the-Fields. She regularly appears as a soloist on live television and radio in the UK.

Helena attended the Royal College of Music in London as a scholar from the age of 8 studying under Professor Pamela Spofforth and Professor Itzhak Rashkovsky. She made her soloist debut at the age of twelve performing the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto and graduated from the Royal College of Music in 2001 with a First Class Honours B. Mus. Degree in Music Performance. She later studied in New York with Professor Joey Corpus.

As a chamber music performer, she has worked with musicians including John Lill, Freddy Kempf, Nigel Kennedy and Finghin Collins. Her solo career has included recitals at the Wigmore Hall, Purcell Room and the Royal Festival Hall and tours to Israel, Romania, France, Switzerland, Germany, Italy and Spain.
Helena succeeds Alan Smale who steps down from his position as Leader in May following a career of over 36 years with RTÉ, firstly as Co-Leader, RTÉ Symphony Orchestra, then as Leader, RTÉ Concert Orchestra followed by a service of almost 20 years as Leader of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra.

Speaking about her appointment, Helena said: "I am thrilled to have been appointed Leader of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra. It has been a great privilege to work with such fine, talented musicians, including its Principal Conductor Alan Buribayev, in the period leading up to my appointment. I look forward to joining the orchestra during its exciting new summer programme and to working with an impressive array of international soloists and conductors in the new season from September onwards. I have found the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra to be an inspiring and dynamic orchestra and feel honoured to be joining such an exceptional team."

Declan McGovern, General Manager of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra commented "The RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra is delighted to welcome Helena Wood as its new Leader. This is a crucial position in terms of the future artistic life of the orchestra and we are delighted to welcome such an outstanding musician to lead the orchestra as we embark on ambitious plans as Ireland's national orchestra. The arrival of a new leader is always an exciting time in the life of an orchestra, and I have no doubt that Helena's musicianship and drive will inspire the orchestra to reach new heights in the months and years ahead."