From Renaissance polyphony to 21st-century compositions, oboist Fiona Last is always seeking out new instruments to play and new musical idioms through which to express herself. Her interest in early instruments stems from the belief that we all seek to mine the most potential possible from the music that we play, and that understanding a musical style through the instrument for which it was written and vice-versa can bring a special kind of life to music-making.
This coming season brings productions of Handel's "Giulio Cesare", Donizetti's "Lucrezia Borgia", and Rossini's "Il Viaggio a Reims" with the English Touring Opera, the modern premiere of Riccardo Broschi's "Idaspe" directed by Clare van Kampen with Chatham Baroque and Quantum Theatre in Pittsburgh, and Handel's "Acis and Galatea" with Opera UCLA. Other highlights include a UK tour with the Gabrieli Consort & Players, and concerts with the Academy of Ancient Music, Piffaro: The Renaissance Band, and Choral Arts Philadelphia. Fiona has also performed with The Handel + Haydn Society, Opera Philadelphia, Tempesta di Mare, The City Musick, Washington National Cathedral, Staunton Music Festival, the Carmel Bach Festival, Connecticut Early Music Festival, New York Baroque Inc., Musica Angelica, and at Les Jardins du William Christie in Thiré, France. In 2018 she was a fellow with The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
Fiona can be heard on "Telemann: The Concerti-en-Suite" with Tempesta di Mare for Chandos, and as principal oboe on the premiere recording of Reena Esmail‘s "This Love Between Us” with David Hill and the Yale Schola Cantorum, in addition to three Grammy-nominated recordings of the music of Dave and Chris Brubeck and Bill Cunliffe on Temple University’s BCM&D record label.
She has given oboe masterclasses at the University of Madison, Wisconsin, The University of North Colorado, Greeley, and at King Edward VI School in Southampton, England, and was a teaching fellow for a partnership between the S’Cool Sounds program and the Washington Heights Choir School, where she taught recorder. She has also taught oboe at the undergraduate level at Yale University, and maintains a private studio.
Fiona has MM degrees in Historical Performance from The Juilliard School and Oboe Performance from Yale School of Music. She received her BM from Temple University in Philadelphia, and also has a BA in Arabic & Ethnomusicology from The School of Oriental and African Studies in London, during which time she spent a year in Syria studying at the University of Damascus.