Chris Blake (piano) won a foundation scholarship to study both horn and piano as first study at the Royal College of Music in 1975, and graduated with first class honours. As a horn player, he was national finalist in the Shell/London Symphony Orchestra Competition and worked with the LSO, the orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra before becoming Principal Horn of the Ulster Orchestra in 1979. Chris studied piano at the RCM, and during his Ulster Orchestra career Chris accompanied many Ulster Orchestra players and formed the Orion Duo with viola/violin player Ruth Bebb. Chris recorded for Radio Ulster on a number of occasions, notably with his namesake Christopher Blake (oboe) and Elizabeth Bennett (flute). He featured in a live broadcast of both Mozart and Beethoven piano and wind quintets with the Belfast Wind Quintet. Last year Chris accompanied on Radio Three’s “In Tune” programme for St. Patrick’s Day, Sean Rafferty describing him as a “consummate musician.” Recently Chris has been accompanying singer Peter Corry.
Since leaving the Ulster Orchestra in 2010, Chris had been pursuing his passion of developing teaching, training and research to foster the provision of music opportunities for young people with Autism and Severe Learning Difficulties.
Chris Blake (oboe) became Principal Oboe of the Ulster Orchestra in 1988, having previously worked for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. His concerto performances with the UO include the Richard Strauss Concerto with Vernon Handley, the Mozart and Strauss concertos conducted by Carlos Colmar, and the Vaughan Williams concerto conducted by James Macmillan. He has also performed the Bach Double Concerto with ex-leaders Lesley Hatfield and David Adams and more recently with the Ulster Orchestra’s current leader, Tamas Kocsis. Christopher also loves playing chamber music and has played in various groups within the Orchestra including wind octets, quintets, and for the last two years has appeared with the Orion Duo and Praeger Oboe Quartet.