Althea Talbot-Howard
Oboe, Oboe d'Amore & Cor Anglais Soloist

Althea Talbot-Howard and Katharine May
Oboes & Harpsichord Duo

Instruments | Joint Biography | Katharine May | Programmes

 Althea Talbot-Howard and Katharine May present exciting, innovative and expressive evening and lunchtime recitals for both public and private occasions. With a repertoire spanning four centuries and a performance involving four instruments, Althea and Katharine have taken the oboe recital into completely new territory. The virtuosic and improvisatory sonatas of 17th century Italians Castello and Fontana contrast with graceful and elegant 18th century French suites by François Couperin, Marais and Duphly. There are three obbligato sonatas by Bach to be heard - one for each oboe - and English music both old and new from composers such as Purcell, Byrd, Handel, Eccles, Dodgson, Maconchy and Michael Berkeley.


Both Althea and Katharine play on French instruments: Althea on modern oboes made by Marigaux and Lorée, while Katharine’s double-manual harpsichord by John Rooks is a 1987 copy of an original harpsichord of 1756 by Henri Hemsch, now in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. It has a beautifully decorated soundboard which the audience is welcome to view, as Katharine will bring her own instrument to each venue unless arrangements are made to the contrary. Each recital features friendly and informal introductions to the pieces as well as extensive programme notes. The recital can also be expanded, by the addition of two distinguished colleagues, to form The Blake Ensemble, comprising tenor, oboe, cello and harpsichord, for those promoters who feel that a slightly larger ensemble would better suit their requirements. Fees are by arrangement.

Joint Biography

Althea Talbot-Howard and Katharine MayAlthea Talbot-Howard and Katharine May began their association in 1994 as scholars on the Countess of Munster Trust Recital Scheme, and have given recitals throughout the United Kingdom for organisations including Elmbridge Music Club, Newark Music Club, Music at Duffield, Music at King Charles, Octagon Music, Evesham Music Society, Whitstable Music Club, Brighton and Hove Philharmonic Society, the London School of Economics, the Highgate Society, and the Universities of Aberystwyth, Birmingham, Brunel, Essex and Warwick, amongst others. Their duo has gained a reputation for excellence in interpretation, presentation and communication with its audiences. In 1996, they broadcast for both Classic FM and RTE FM3, Ireland, and undertook a concert tour of EIRE, generously co-sponsored by the British Council.

Katharine May

Katharine May studied the harpsichord at the Royal College of Music in London with Ruth Dyson and Robert Woolley. Whilst there she won many prizes for her solo and continuo playing, and upon graduation was awarded the Raymond Fennell Prize for the best degree of the year. She has since studied with Jill Severs in London, and at the Accademia Muisicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy, where for four years she was given a scholarship to study with Kenneth Gilbert. During her final year, Katharine received the Accademia’s highest award, the Diploma of Honour. Her career has benefited from awards given by several trust funds, and she is particularly grateful to the Countess of Munster Musical Trust.

Katharine has given numerous concerts for music clubs, universities, the National Trust and music festivals including the Belfast and Sligo Early Music Festivals, and the London Handel Festival. She has made recordings for Central Television and TVS playing authentic keyboard instruments, and has recorded three CDs with The Windsor Box & Fir Company for Isis Records. In 1997, Katharine made her debut at the Wigmore Hall, where she was described by a critic from The Times as ‘the evening’s feisty and urbane harpsichordist’. Until recently a tutor at Morley College, London, Katharine also writes for Early Music Today and Music Teacher.