Helen Shillito was inspired to start playing the French horn by her father, and professional horn player, Martin Shillito. At St Mary's Music School, Edinburgh, she was a joint first study student of horn and piano (learning horn with Terence Johns). During her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at the Royal College of Music she studied with Julian Baker, Tim Brown and Sue Dent (natural horn). As part of her postgraduate degree she spent a semester at the Franz Liszt Academy, Budapest, studying with Adam Friedrich.
Following the completion of her postgraduate studies, Helen followed up her particular interest in the natural and baroque horn by obtaining a Masters with Distinction in research and ensemble performance of classical and romantic orchestral playing from the CESMD, Saintes, France. During this time she was tutored by Claude Maury, Martin Murner and members of the Orchestre de Champs Elysees.
As a freelance musician Helen has played modern horn regularly with various orchestras including the BBC Symphony, Academy of St Martin in the Fields, City of London Sifonia, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Northern Ballet, Scottish Opera and the Irish Chamber Orchestra. She held the position of second horn with orchestra of Scottish Ballet from 2005- to 2010.
Period ensembles and orchestras have included Concerto Copenhagen, Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique, Accademia Bizantina as well as the Gabrieli Consort with whom she has made several recordings and Proms appearances. Travels and tours have taken Helen to Poland, Denmark, France, Spain, Germany and Austria and into some wonderful venues, including her favourite; the Musikverein, Vienna.
Helen also has a keen interest in chamber music and is a founder member of the Aurora Ensemble, established in 1996. One of the UK’s foremost wind quintets, they have been praised by the Financial Times for their "dazzling precision and infectious wit", with The Times enjoying their "immaculately polished and blended sounds". She has also performed with various chamber groups including Ensemble 360 and the Broadwood Ensemble.
In addition to teaching at the University of York, Helen also teaches privately and at Leeds University.
In her spare time Helen enjoys training for and competing in Triathlons.