Musicians 2024

Celebrated Irish violinist 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.

An Irish musician of Romanian origin, Alex Petcu is quickly establishing himself both nationally and internationally as a percussionist of the finest calibre. His recent appearances as a soloist with both RTE Orchestras and the Irish Chamber Orchestra are some of his main highlights so far. His debut album, “Alex Petcu: In Time”, released on the RTE lyric fm label, showcases both seminal works and new contributions to the percussion repertoire. An active freelance musician, Alex performs with a wide variety of ensembles and in a range of settings. He regularly performs with the Crash and Hard Rain Ensembles, two of Ireland’s main contemporary groups, and the various professional orchestras in Ireland. He is also heavily involved in the creation of new music and regularly works with composers. Recent projects include “Beats, Bells and Bridges” a collaboration with composer Tom Lane and “Invitation to a Journey”, a dance/theatre/music collaboration with music by Deirdre Gribbin. Aside from his performing activities, he is also a keen teacher and currently teaches percussion at MTU Cork School of Music. He holds an MA in music performance, and an MSc and BSc in physics.

Irish soprano, Kelley Petcu, described by The Irish Times as “a natural” is a recipient of several awards, including the esteemed RDS Music Bursary. She is also a multiple prizewinner at Feis Ceoil, Dublin, including the John McCormack Bursary, the Mrs. P.J Geoghegan Memorial Cup and the Gervase Elwes Cup for best overall singer of the competition. As a soloist, Kelley has sung with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, which was broadcast live on lyric fm. She has taken part in the Cork Operatic Societies concert series, singing the roles of Barbarina in La nozze di Figaro and Second Lady in Die Zauberflote. She also played leading roles in a trilogy of site-specific operas, written by composer Tom Lane and presented by the Cork Opera House, two of which were nominated for an Irish Times Theatre Award for Best Opera, Front of House (2017) and The Stalls (2019). She has sung in the chorus of Wexford Festival Opera, Opera Theatre Company and Irish National Opera. She also has a passion for chamber music and has sung in the Ortús Chamber Music Festival, Junction Festival, Finding a Voice concert series and Westport Chamber Music Festival.

She graduated from the then CIT Cork School of Music with a first class honours in both her BMus majoring in piano performance and MA in piano accompaniment and voice. While on Erasmus in Italy, Kelley studied singing at the Conservatorio di Verona. She then continued her vocal studies at the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama and while living in Dublin, took part in Opera Theatre Company’s Young Associate Artist programme. After this, she travelled to London for lessons to continue her vocal study. Kelley is currently lecturing full-time on the new BA degree in Musical Theatre at the MTU Cork School of Music. She has enjoyed teaching for over 10 years in studios and schools such as Voiceworks studio, Montforts College of Performing Arts and Centre Stage.

Born in 1999 in Paris, Jérémie Moreau began playing the piano at the age of seven. He Studied with Françoise Ragon, Bruno Rigutto and Anne-Lise Gastaldi at the CRR de Paris. From 2014 to 2018 he studied with Denis Pascal at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Paris and in 2018 he attended the Barenboïm-Saïd Academy in Berlin. He currently works with Sir Andras Schiff. He has taken part in masterclasses with Jean-François Heisser, Yves Henri, Marie-Joseph Jude, Jean-Marc Luisada and Daniel Barenboïm and has participated in many academies in France, Austria and Germany. He has played concerto performances (Shostakovitch Concerto n.1 in Aix-en-Provence), and numerous recitals (La Rochelle, Paris, Chopin Festival Bagatelle, Lisztomanias in Chateauroux, Gstaad’s Festival …) Enthusiastic about playing chamber music, his partners include his brothers and sister, he has played in Seoul (Seoul Art Center), Reims (Les Flâneries Musicales de Reims), Perros Guirec, Guetary, Einsenstadt, Sceaux, Berlin ( Boulez Saal ). He recorded in 2017, Schumann KinderSzenen (Nohant Festival 2016, Soupirs Editions).

Ella van Poucke, born in Amsterdam in 1994, is one of the leading cellists of her generation. Praised for her musical integrity, flawless instrumental abilities as well as her performing presence and intensity, the 29-year-old Dutch cellist belongs to the top rank of today’s generation of cellists. After making her debut at the Concertgebouw at the age of 10 she has performed in all the major halls of the Netherlands, in many top halls in Europe and in the U.S. and Asia. She is the winner of the prestigious Premio Chigiana 2017, the first prize winner of the International Isang Yun cello competition 2015, the Grachtenfestival Prize, the Leopoldinum Award 2015, Prix Nicolas Firmenich 2013, Elisabeth Everts Award 2014, Prix Academie Maurice Ravel 2012, Dutch Musician of the Year 2012 and recipient of the special prize in recognition of an outstanding performance at the Grand Prix Emanuel Feuermann 2014.

As a soloist, Ella has performed with the HR-Sinfonie Orchester, Brussels Philharmonic, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Rotterdam Philharmonic Strings, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Kremerata Baltica, Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn, Orchestre Della Toscana, Noord Nederlands Orkest, Havana Youth Orchestra, Varsovia Chamber Orchestra, Symfonie Orchestra of Vlaanderen, Polish Chamber Orchestra, Leopoldinum Chamber Orchestra, Junge Sinfonie Berlin, Hamburger Camerata, Tongyeong Festival Orchestra and collaborated with artists as Christoph Eschenbach, Michael Sanderling, Karina Cannelakis among others.

In November 2012 she premiered a new cello concerto, which was written for her by the Finnish composer Uljas Pulkkis during the International Cello Biennale in Amsterdam. In September 2013 she premiered the same work in Germany at the Kronberg Festival, with members of the HR-Sinfonie Orchester Frankfurt. Ella regularly appears on Dutch Radio and Television and has performed for ARTE TV in Germany and France. She appeared in Germany’s “Stars von Morgen” hosted by Rolando Villazon. As a passionate chamber musician, Ella has performed with Andras Schiff, Gary Hoffman, Nobuko Imai, Tabea Zimmermann, Christian Tetzlaff, Viviane Hagner, Gidon Kremer, Colin Carr, Pavel Vernikov, Andreas Reiner, Vilde Frang, Simone Lamsma, Christiaan Bor, Philippe Graffin, Prazak quartet, Schumann quartett among others. For many years she regularly performs in recital with pianist Jean-Claude vanden Eynden, Caspar Vos, and her brother Nicolas van Poucke.

She has been a guest in numerous international festivals such as Festspiele Mecklenburg Vorpommern, West Cork Chamber Music Festival, Music@Menlo, Krzyzowa Music, Chigiana International Festival, Kaposfest Hungary, Internationaal Kamermuziek Festival Utrecht, Grachten Festival Amsterdam, Kronberg Festival, Cello Biennale Amsterdam and was invited to participate in Verbier Festival Academy in 2009, 2013 and 2014. As a Dutch ‘Rising Star’ Ella was invited to give two Carte Blanche concerts in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam in 2013-14. In the summer of 2017 she was Artist in Residence with the National Youth Orchestra of the Netherlands and in August 2018 Ella was Artist in Residence of the Grachtenfestival in Amsterdam.

This season Ella is Artist in Residence at the Vrijdag van Vredenburg series in Utrecht, where she will perform several times as a soloist with the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and in chamber music with her friends and inspirations including Gary Hoffman. In 2019, Ella performed the complete works for cello and piano by Beethoven at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam together with her brother Nicolas among other venues. In 2018 she toured with all the Bach suites. In 2020 Ella released her debut album, devoted to Schumann’s works for cello, which was very well received worldwide. The Gramophone wrote: “This is an impressive album from a soloist whose performances I look forward to hearing more of in the future.” The year 2023 marks the 150th birthday of Sergei Rachmaninov. Ella’s next album will be a tribute to his chamber music and focuses on the monumental sonata for cello and piano which she recorded with pianist Caspar Vos. In 2022, Ella was appointed cello professor at the Conservatory of Amsterdam.

Born into a family of musicians, Ella began playing the cello at the age of six. She entered the Royal Conservatory of The Hague at the age of 10 and later continued her studies at the Conservatory of Amsterdam with Godfried Hoogeveen. From 2009-2016, Ella studied with Frans Helmerson at the Kronberg Academy Masters in Germany. From 2016-2019 she was an Artist in Residence at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel in Brussels, where she studied with Gary Hoffman. Ella plays on a 1620 Maggini cello, kindly on loan to her from an anonymous benefactor.

Karolina Errera, viola, has a rare gift of combining her wonderful musical talents with an outstandingly good taste and a humble and modest personality that is not so common nowadays.” – Tabea Zimmermann Standing on stage and indulging in the fleeting moment in the music – violist Karolina Errera has had this special feeling for a lifetime: from when she first appeared on stage at the age of five to her collaboration in the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra as a student of the Kronberg Academy or as a chamber music partner at well-known festivals. Karolina Errera grew up in a Dominican-Russian family with musical influences from all over the world. Making music was initially intended as a pastime after schoolwork, but it quickly developed into a passion that has become an integral part of Karolina’s life. After completing her studies at Central Music School, the violist studied with Wilfried Strehle as part of her bachelor’s degree at the Berlin University of the Arts. Until 2019 she studied with Tabea Zimmermann at the Hanns Eisler University of Music in Berlin, then at the Kronberg Academy. Karolina enjoys developing her artistic personality in different formations. As an academician with the Berliner Philharmoniker, she learned to be part of a bigger whole. In chamber music, she is fascinated by the sensitivity of the shared creative moment and the fulfilling communication with one another. As a soloist, she enjoys the endless freedom of expression within the form, style and content.

Karolina Errera has won numerous prizes, including the important Yuri Bashmet Competition and 2nd prize at the Markneukirchen International Instrumental Competition. She has already played in concert halls such as the Wigmore Hall in London, the Victoria Hall in Geneva and the Berlin Philharmonie. She is also a regular guest at international festivals such as the Verbier Festival, the Moritzburg Festival and the Krzyzowa Music Festival. In addition to her concert activity, the violist never forgets her goal: to play music for everyone and to invite everyone to immerse themselves in the dazzling world of classical music with her. The viola is the perfect instrument for this, its sound: ‘bittersweet’, enthuses Karolina Errera.

Originally from Finland, Marja Gaynor is a Cork-based violinist and viola player. She specialises in Baroque music and is a member of Irish Baroque Orchestra and Camerata Kilkenny, recording and touring with both groups regularly. She has also performed with Irish Chamber Orchestra, Ensemble Marsyas, Dunedin Consort, London Handel Players, King’s Consort and Helsinki Baroque Orchestra. Marja is known as a versatile musician at home in many different styles, a fluent improviser, as well as arranger and curator. Upcoming projects include chamber music tours with Solas Quartet and The Vanbrugh and performing and arranging as a trio with uilleann piper David Power and flamenco guitarist John Walsh. She teaches violin and chamber music in MTU Cork School of Music.

Dublin born cellist Aoife Nic Athlaoich enjoys a verstaile career performing on both modern and baroque cello. Aoife is a member of the Irish Chamber Orchestra and sub principal cellist with the Irish Baroque Orchestra with whom she has performed nationally and internationally. Aoife has performed at Ireland’s leading chamber music festivals and is the former artistic director of the East Cork Early Music Festival. Aoife is a lecturer of cello at the MTU Cork School of Music, Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin and on the MA in Classical String Performance at the University of Limerick.
Aoife was a member of the London Mozart Players before relocating to Ireland and is also a member of the Orchestre Revolutionnaire and Romantique.

Siobhán Armstrong is a performer, artistic director, speaker, educator and mentor, and one of Europe’s foremost harpists playing pre-1800 repertory, on reconstructions of medieval to baroque harps. She performs and records with many of Europe’s most prestigious early-music soloists, orchestras and opera companies (Les Arts Florissants, France; The Academy of Ancient Music / Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment / Early Opera Company London; Akademie für Alte Musik, Berlin), and also collaborates with some of Ireland’s best-known traditional-music performers: Roísín Elsafty, Ronan Browne and Doimnic Mac Giolla Bhríde. Siobhán is the founding director of The Historical Harp Society of Ireland, spearheading the international rediscovery of Ireland’s ancient harp, strung in brass wires. In 2015, she located a lost, historic Irish harp, and in 2016 she commissioned the first ever 3D-laser scan of a musical instrument at The National Museum of Ireland. She completed her PhD in the area in 2020 (Middlesex University, London). The debut recording of her ensemble, The Irish Consort, entitled Music, Ireland and the Sixteenth Century, has shed light on a neglected century in Irish music. This was one of The Irish Times’ top five international Classical Music picks of 2021.

Pianist Seán Morgan-Rooney, originally from County Down, has a varied performing career as a soloist and chamber musician. In the past year, he has travelled to Iceland to perform contemporary music with the Caput Ensemble, to Japan to perform with his violin duo partner Bas Treub, and to Canada to develop his own interdisciplinary performance project at the Banff Centre. Seán’s early studies were with John O’Conor at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin. He completed his Bachelor’s with Professor Christopher Elton at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and his Master’s and Artist Certificate with David Kuyken at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. He has also studied privately with Yossi Reshev in Berlin. He is a former participant of the IMS Prussia Cove, the Banff Centre’s Piano Programme and the Aspen Music Festival and School.
Seán is the winner of several prizes for his playing. In 2015 he won the Brennan Prize for the highest placed Irish competitor at the 10th Dublin International Piano Competition. Following this, he released a début album and appeared as a concerto soloist with several of Ireland’s major orchestras, including the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and the Ulster Orchestra. He is a past winner of the Royal Academy of Music’s Else Cross Prize for contemporary music and was a past finalist of the Dutch Classical Talent Award in the Netherlands.
Seán also composes his own music, with a focus on piano with electronics and song composition. In 2021, he received a major grant from the Irish Arts Council to write a new collection of art song based on sean-nós melodies, to be published and recorded this year. He will also release his second solo album, “A Few Reflect the Heart,” which combines the music of Ravel with the pianist’s own compositions for piano and electronics. Seán currently lives in Amsterdam.