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Bones Apart

Bones Apart is a highly acclaimed trombone quartet based in the UK. Since its inception in 1999, the quartet has rapidly gained international recognition as a leading ensemble in brass chamber music. The group has performed its unique and diverse repertoire to audiences worldwide. The members of the ensemble (L to R): Sarah Williams, Helen Vollam, Becky Smith and Jayne Murrill bring together a wealth of performing experience at the highest level, from symphony and chamber orchestra, early and contemporary music, to brass band and jazz. 

Bones Apart is committed to raising the profile of the trombone as a chamber music instrument by demonstrating its remarkable versatility. Through commissioning new works and arrangements Bones Apart has expanded not only the repertoire but the boundaries of brass chamber music, widening its appeal to an ever increasing audience.

In 2001 Bones Apart won the Royal Over-Seas League chamber music prize and went on to appear at the Edinburgh International Festival, Music In The Round, the Wigmore Hall, St Martin in the Fields and Queen Elizabeth Hall, in addition to multiple broadcasts on BBC television and radio. Bones Apart has given recitals, masterclasses and education workshops throughout the UK and Europe, as well as across the USA and Japan.

Bones Apart play on Conn-Selmer and Vincent Bach trombones.

" musically and technically world class "

" Bones Apart is, without question, one of the finest trombone quartets in the world "

" A magnificent display of playing "

" Bones Apart just get better and better."

" they transcend the stereotype of their instrument "

“ a chamber group at the peak of its powers ”

You can download the group biography here

Becky Smith

Becky is Principal Trombone of the English National Opera, and previously held the position of Sub-Principal Trombone of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. She is Professor of Trombone at the Royal College of Music.

Born in Cambridge in 1979, Becky studied the trombone with Christopher Mowat, and euphonium with John Clark at the Junior Guildhall School of Music and Drama from the age of 12 to 18. During this time she was also a member of the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain.

In 1998 Becky gained a scholarship for a place at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, and whilst studying there won the 2002 Royal Over-Seas League Music Competition Brass Prize, the Leggett Award, Terence Nagle Award and the Harry Mortimer Award. Becky is a founder member of Bones Apart.

She has performed with most of the UK's orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Philharmonia, City of London Sinfonia, Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Sinfonia of London and all the BBC Orchestras.

She was guest soloist at the Guildhall Summer School and has also performed the Brahms Horn Trio with Alison Balsom and Tom Poster at the Cambridge Corn Exchange. In that same concert she conducted the world premiere of Distraction by Jay Richardson featuring Alison performing alongside brass players from all over Cambridgeshire.

Becky has given masterclasses at colleges such as the Guildhall and coached the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, adjudicated the final of the BBC Radio 2 Young Brass Award and the Help Musicians Awards. She also mentors students from the Royal College of Music on the Evolve Scheme with the English National Opera. In 2020 Becky was the recipient of the British Trombone Society's Sheila Tracy Award for significant contribution to her field.

Jayne Murrill

Jayne began playing the euphonium at the age of 9 whilst at school in Newham, East London and soon after joined the National Youth Brass Band quickly progressing onto principal euphonium.

She moved onto trombone aged 16 and in 1991 entered the Royal College of Music studying with Peter Bassano and Lindsay Shilling. Whilst at college Jayne was the recipient of several awards including the Countess of Munster Trust and the Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother Award before graduating in 1996 with a BMus degree and an ARCM diploma.

Since leaving college Jayne has enjoyed a successful freelance career working with many of the major UK orchestras including the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. She has also worked with a number of chamber ensembles including LadyBones and the Fine Arts Brass Ensemble. Jayne joined Bones Apart in 2008.

An experienced teacher and trainer, Jayne has coached the trombones of the National Children's Brass Band and the National Youth Brass Band of Wales. She has also adjudicated Brass in Concert and UniBrass brass band contests.

Jayne is Musical Director of East London Brass and a regular guest conductor with bands around the UK.

Helen Vollam

Helen is Principal Trombone of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and is also a member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. She is Visiting Artist in Trombone at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. She enjoys a busy and varied career combining orchestral playing, chamber music, solo work and teaching.

Helen was appointed Principal Trombone of the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 2004, and is the first woman to be appointed principal trombone of a London orchestra.

Helen studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London with Eric Crees and Simon Wills. During this time she was Principal Trombone of the European Union Youth Orchestra and won the Bronze Medal in the Shell/LSO Music Scholarship, the Morris Smith Trombone Prize, and the Harry Mortimer Brass Prize.

Since graduating she has performed with most of the UK’s orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden and the Sinfonia of London. She has also worked with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, Freiburg Barockorchester, Spira Mirabilis and the World Orchestra for Peace.

In 2003 she won the Woodwind & Brass Award and Philip Jones Memorial Brass Prize in the final of the Royal Over-Seas League Music Competition, and was the first ever trombone player to reach the competition’s final.

In demand as a teacher and adjudicator, Helen has given classes at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Royal Academy of Music, Royal College of Music, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Royal Northern College of Music, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Wells Cathedral School and the Purcell School. She was on the faculty for the 2017 Dublin Brass Week and has adjudicated for BBC Young Musician, Royal Over-Seas League, BBC Radio 2 Young Brass Award, Getzen Ian Bousfield, Swisstbone, British Trombone Society and International Trombone Association Competitions. In 2017 she was the recipient of the British Trombone Society's Sheila Tracy Award for 'significant contribution to her field'.​

Helen has played on many film soundtrack recordings, including Star Wars The Attack of the Clones, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Inception, The Last King of Scotland, Iron Man 2, The Ides of March, Brave and No Time To Die.

In 2019 Helen gave the world premiere of Gavin Higgins' new Trombone Concerto 'Book of Miracles', written specially for her, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican in London. In December 2019 the 'Book of Miracles' won Gavin Higgins an Ivors Award for Best Orchestral Composition.

Find out more about Helen at www.helenvollam.com

Sarah Williams

Sarah was born in Wigton, Cumbria and whilst at school studied trombone with Andy Berryman and was a member of the Northern Junior Philharmonic Orchestra and the National Youth Brass Band.

She studied at Hull University and went on to gain a place on the postgraduate course at the Royal Academy of Music receiving bass trombone tuition from Bob Hughes. During this time, she was also a member of the Schleswig-Holstein Jugendorchester.

Since graduating Sarah has enjoyed a busy and varied freelance career, working in both the orchestral and jazz scenes.

As well as working with orchestras such as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra and BBC Concert Orchestra, she has played in a huge variety of West End shows including Crazy For You, Phantom of the Opera, Guys and Dolls, Les Miserables and Oliver. Sarah has collaborated with many artists across the jazz and pop world such as Kenny Wheeler, Stan Sulzman, Tony Bennett, Jamie Cullum, Tom Jones, Lulu and Dannii Minogue. She has appeared on many film soundtrack recordings including Little Voice, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Ronin, and was for many years a member of the house band for the 'Parkinson' television show.

Recently she was in the band for the revival of the classic Broadway musical ‘42nd Street’ at the Theatre Royal in London’s Drury Lane. In the summer of 2021 she was in the band for the Barbican Theatre's hugely successful run of ‘Anything Goes’.

She was once described by a leading jazz critic as "quite glamorous"!