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Nicola Hands

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About Nicola

A freelance oboist player with a variety of orchestral, chamber and solo experience, Nicola is an enthusiastic and versatile musician.
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Born in Nottingham in 1987, Nicola Hands graduated in 2013 with Distinction from the Royal Academy of Music Masters programme, where she studied oboe with Melanie Ragge and cor anglais with Jill Crowther. Nicola is currently a busy freelance performer based in London whose playing has been described by local reviewers in Nottingham and Cambridge as both ‘beguiling’ and ‘exquisite’. Until recently she was the 2nd oboe/cor anglais player for the Orquestra do Norte, Portugal, and as a freelance performer Nicola has played regularly with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Orpheus Sinfonia as well as many other orchestras in and around London, and is an extra player for English National Opera, English National Ballet and Orquestra Metropolitana in Lisbon. Nicola also plays for musical theatre; from September 2013 to February 2014 she was the oboe and cor anglais player for ‘The Light Princess’ by Tori Amos at the National Theatre, and has played for ‘Miss Saigon’ in the Prince Edward Theatre. Nicola is also very active as a soloist and chamber musician. As a concert soloist, Nicola has performed the Vaughan Williams Oboe Concerto with West Forest Sinfonia, the Mozart Oboe Concerto at Jesus College, Cambridge and the Strauss Oboe Concerto in St. Mary’s Church, Nottingham. In 2015 she was awarded a Jellinek soloist’s award by Croydon Symphony Orchestra, and as a result performed the Albinoni D minor concerto in Guildford in 2016 and returned to St. Mary's Church, Nottingham in 2016 for a solo performance of the Marcello D Minor concerto. Nicola also enjoys giving solo recitals, and has performed in venues such as St. Mary’s Perivale, Winchester Cathedral, Peterborough Cathedral, St. George’s Hanover Square, St. James’s Church Paddington and Waltham Abbey as a soloist with pianist Jonathan Pease, and regularly joins chamber groups for recitals. Nicola and Jonathan’s duo has this year been selected to appear in the Making Music Selected Artists guide. In 2012 Nicola was awarded the Evelyn Barbirolli prize for oboe and the Grimaldi Cor Anglais Scholarship at the Royal Academy, and in 2013 she won the concerto class of the Hastings Music Festival Concerto Competition playing the Martinu oboe concerto. In 2013 she was also Highly Commended in the Leila Bull oboe prize at the Academy. During her Masters Nicola played in many high-profile performances, including principal oboe for Sir Colin Davis, Thierry Fischer and Yan Pascal Tortelier and cor anglais for Jac van Steen and Semyon Bychkov with the Academy Symphony Orchestra. She also performed the solo oboe part in Bainbridge’s Concertante in Moto Perpetuo with the Academy Manson Ensemble conducted by Franck Ollu, in a special birthday celebration concert for the composer. Before attending the Royal Academy, Nicola completed an MA in languages at Cambridge University. She was very active as both an oboist and a choral scholar in Cambridge. With the help of instrumental and choral scholarships from Jesus College, she was able to pursue her musical ambition, finding many opportunities to perform as both an ensemble player and soloist in the Cambridge music scene.

Performance details
I can perform outdoors
I have a car I can use to travel to gigs
I can perform with backing tracks
I can perform while walking around a venue
Encore awards
5th Encoreversary
Classical, Classical crossover, Contemporary classical, Medieval music, Film / TV music, Opera, Musical theatre, Early music, Baroque, Renaissance, Fanfare, Folk, Country, Folk rock, Pop, Acoustic, Ambient pop, Americana, Covers, Disco, Funk, Funk rock, Hip Hop, Karaoke, Motown, R&B, Soul, Top 40, Tribute, Vintage, World music, African music, Afrobeat, Arabic, Argentinian, Armenian, Asian music, Australian music, Balkan, Bavarian oompah, Bollywood, Bossa nova, Brazilian music, Calypso, Caribbean music, Choro, Cuban music, Cumbia, Flamenco, French music, German music, Greek music, Hawaiian music, Indian music, Italian music, Jewish music, Klezmer, Latin, Mariachi, Merengue, Polish music, Polka, Polynesian music, Reggae, Russian music, Salsa, Samba, Scottish music, Ska, Skiffle, Spanish music, Tango, Christmas, Contemporary Christian, Traditional church music, Electronic, Ambient, Breakbeat, Deep house, Drum 'n' Bass, Dubstep, EDM, Electro-Swing, Electronica, Garage, House, IDM, Industrial, Jungle, Techno, Triphop, 1920s era music, 1930s era music, 1940s era music, 1950s era music, 1960s era music, 1970s era music, 1980s era music, 1990s era music, Jazz, Blues, Cabaret, Dixieland, Gypsy jazz, Jazz fusion, Latin jazz, Modern jazz, Postmodern jukebox jazz, Ragtime, Swing, Barbershop, Gospel, Avant garde, Easy listening, Experimental, Light music, Noise music, Originals, Bluegrass, Ceillidh, Irish rock, Rockabilly, Traditional English folk, Traditional Irish folk, Traditional Scottish folk, Marching, Rock, Alternative rock, Britpop, Classic rock, Glam rock, Hard rock, Hardcore, Heavy metal, Indie, Pop rock, Post rock, Power rock, Progressive rock, Punk rock, Rock 'n' Roll, Synth rock
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Event types:
Concert, Wedding, Funeral / Memorial service, Church service, Private event, Corporate event, Charity event, Recording session, Theatre / Show, Cruise, Burns night, Birthday party, Christmas party, New Year's Eve
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Other skills:
Fluent sight-reader, Perfect pitch, Actor, Instrumental teaching, Theory teaching, Singing teaching
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Omar P, 4 years ago

very professional and pleasant to work with

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Harriet F, 2 years ago

Nicola Hands shows unique talent for bringing both playfulness and depth to the music. She draws out fresh nuances, with beautiful soaring sustained lines and fluttering, elegant runs. She is thrilling to both watch and listen to, communicating with subtlety and intelligence. The clarity and grace of her tone is stunning - I have never heard the oboe sound so beautiful and so passionate.

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Chris B, 2 years ago

Nicola, thanks so much for your wonderful playing, your timeliness, and your professionalism. We really enjoyed getting the chance to hear you and the event organisers were thrilled to have a musician of your quality perform for them. We’ll be in touch again soon!