Rela began playing the clarinet aged 9 and has never looked back. Her potential was immediately recognised, and she was awarded a scholarship from Birmingham city council to have lessons with Edward Watson, principal clarinet at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Rela continued these lessons with ‘Ted’ throughout her years at Birmingham Conservatoire, where she gained a first-class degree, specialising in performance.
Rela then won a Senior Exhibition Scholarship to study at the Royal College of Music, where she gained a Distinction for her masters degree, studying under London principals Richard Hosford and Robert Hill. Her entry into the freelance scene was delayed when she gained a full-time position: Co-Principal Clarinet with the Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, South Africa. This combined her two passions – world travel and orchestral clarinet playing.
Rela now enjoys a full and varied freelance career. Rela has played clarinet and saxophones with The Royal Shakespeare Company since 1993, having been involved in over 30 productions, including tours of the USA. She has worked with Simon Rattle, Pierre Boulez, Harrison Birtwhistle and Karlheinz Stockhausen, all of whom, she says, have left a lasting impression on her playing. Orchestral freelance work has included CBSO, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, guest principal with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. She has also toured the UK and Europe as principal clarinet with The Heart of England Philharmonic Orchestra, with such artists as Alfie Boe, Il Divo, Steve Hackett and Hanson. A keen chamber musician, Rela has performed with BCMG and The Nash Ensemble, and particularly enjoys works for clarinet and string quartet.
In 2017, she was delighted to be appointed principal clarinet of TKFO, now known as The Sinfonia Stellaris.