Established in 2016, the Ortús Chamber Music Festival brings together top Irish and international musicians to perform around Cork City and County. The festival also includes educational and outreach projects in schools and public spaces across the community. Co-founded by Artistic Directors Mairéad Hickey and Sinéad O’Halloran, Ortús seeks to highlight the musical ability and innovation of young Irish musicians and composers while bridging connections with musicians around the world.


Our Team

Mairéad Hickey and Sinéad O’Halloran – Artistic Directors
Adrian Petcu – Artistic Advisor
Karen O’Halloran – Fundraising Co-ordinator
Clare Hatcher – Administration
Eventi Management – Digital Marketing
Kearney Melia Barker Communicatons (info@kearneymelia.com) – Media Relations
Carol Daly (Cork ETB School of Music) – Educational Work Partner



Discover our team 

Co-founder & Artist Director of the Ortús Chamber Music Festival, Sinéad O’Halloran is
passionate about bringing together Irish and international musicians for concerts, education
work and audience development in the wider community. As cellist of the award-winning
Marmen Quartet, Sinéad has performed at the Berlin Philharmonie, Boulez-Saal, BBC
Proms, Lucerne Festival & Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival. Upcoming highlights include
performances at Wigmore Hall, Hitzacker Festival, Amsterdam String Quartet Biennale, as
well as extensive tours across Europe and the US. Winner of the prestigious RNCM Gold
Medal 2021, Sinéad is also a graduate of Southern Methodist University (Dallas, Texas) and
the Robert Schumann Hochschule (Düsseldorf, Germany), where she graduated with a first
class Hons BMus and MMus.

As Principal Cellist of the European Union Youth Orchestra she led the section at numerous
high profile events, including the BBC Proms and The Armistice Day 100 Years Anniversary
Ceremony, performing at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe during a ceremony marking the
centenary of the end of World War I in front of 84 Heads of State and world leaders, and a
live television audience of millions. At the invitation of Maestro Iván Fischer, she is a regular
guest with the Budapest Festival Orchestra, touring extensively and performing in some of
the world’s finest concert halls, including Carnegie Hall, Philharmonie de Paris,
Elbphilharmonie Hamburg and Het Concertgebouw.

In March 2023 Sinéad performed the world premiere of Shaun Davey’s Cello Concerto
“Refuge” with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland and conductor David Brophy. In
2024, she will embark on a project of performing all of the Bach Cello Suites around Ireland,
with support from the Arts Council. 2024 will also see the release of two CD’s; the Marmen
Quartet’s debut album of works by Ligeti & Bartok for the BIS label and a CD of collaborative
works with composer/violist Garth Knox.

As well as performing, Sinéad is passionate about teaching and enjoys being on the
chamber music faculty at the Royal College of Music in London. Sinéad is currently playing
on a cello made by David Tecchler (Rome, 1714) generously on loan to her from the Royal
Society of Musicians. She also gratefully acknowledges support from the Arts Council of
Ireland, Music Network, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Celebrated Irish violinist and Co-Artistic Director Mairéad Hickey is acclaimed for her captivating expression, soaring tone and fearless virtuosity.  Her natural ability to communicate sincerely, with beauty and integrity, entrances audiences worldwide.  

As a soloist Mairéad has performed with the RTÉ Irish National Symphony Orchestra, RTÉ Irish National Concert Orchestra, Hessicher Rundfunk Sinfonie Orchester, Orchestre National de Bordeaux Aquitaine, Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire, Württembergisches Kammerorchester, Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Mainz, Kremerata Baltica, Chamber Orchestra of Europe , Camerata Ireland and with conductors such as Christoph Eschenbach in some of the major halls around the world.  Her Carnegie Hall debut was described as ‘…magical, penetrating to the heart and soul of the music.’ (New York Epoch Times)

Mairéad was the concertmaster of the Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire from 2021 to 2023.  She is frequently invited to perform as guest concertmaster in orchestras including Orchestra National du Capitole de Toulouse, Orchestre National de Bordeaux Aquitaine, Orchestre de Paris and Orquesta Simfónica del Gran Teatre del Liceu.

A passionate chamber musician, Mairéad has performed with Sir András Schiff, Barry Douglas, Tabea Zimmermann, Renaud Capuçon, Mate Bekavac, Irena Grafenauer, Alexander Lonquich, Steven Isserlis, Christian Tetzlaff, Alain Altinoglu, Kirill Gernstein, Paul Neubauer, Pieter Wispelway, Michel Lethiec, Dmitry Sitkovetsky and the Vanbrugh Quartet among many others.

Mairéad has been invited to perform at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, Westport Festival of Chamber Music, the Clandeboye Music Festival, the Rheingau Festival, Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad, Festival International de Colmar, Mantova Chamber Music Festival, Grachtenfestival Amsterdam, Rolandseck Festival and Chamber Music Connects the World. 

Her love of chamber music led her to co-found the Ortús Chamber Music Festival in 2016 in her native Cork, of which she is Artistic Director.

Mairéad was Irish NCH Young Musician of the Year 2010 – 2012.  As well as winning prizes at renowned Irish competitions, she won third prize as well as a Special Prize for the best interpretation of a virtuoso work at the 2016 International Louis Spohr Competition and first prize in the Jeunesses Musicales Violin Competition, Romania 2012. In 2017 she was awarded a Special Prize in the Berliner International Music Competition and the Manhattan International Music Competition.  She was awarded the André Hoffmann prize at the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad in January 2022 for her interpretation of the world premiere performance of Wolfgang Rhim’s ‘Episode’. 

Born in 1996,  Mairéad began playing the violin at the age of three with Jyrki Pietila.  From 2003 to 2014 she studied with Adrian Petcu at the CIT Cork School of Music, Ireland and spent a year in France studying at the Conservatoire de Nantes with Constantin Serban.  In 2020 she graduated with a Masters in Performance from Kronberg Academy where she studied with Mihaela Martin, sponsored by the Hilmar Kopper Stipendium. 

Mairéad has taken masterclasses and worked intensely with artists such as András Schiff, Rita Wagner, Ferenc Rados, Gidon Kremer, Dora Schwarzberg, Elena Bashkirova, Hugh Maguire, Vadim Repin, Mariana Sirbu, Ana Chumachenco, Vadim Gluzman, Steven Isserlis, Yossi Zivoni, Mauricio Fuks, Gabor Takács-Nagy, Christoph Eschenbach, Marc Danel and Ivry Gitlis among others.

Mairéad also plays traditional Irish music and has won eight world Irish fiddle titles. 

Mairéad currently plays a 1702 Giovanni Tononi violin.