One of Ireland’s most accomplished violinists, Co-Artistic Director and violinist Mairéad Hickey was NCH Irish 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.

Performing regularly throughout Ireland, she has played with both the RTÉ National Concert and Symphony Orchestras as well Camerata Ireland and Kremerata Baltica. She has performed in every major concert hall in Ireland and abroad in venues including the Royal Festival Hall, London, Beethoven-Haus, Bonn and Carnegie Hall, New York.

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. She is now studying with Mihaela Martin at Kronberg Academy, sponsored by the Hilmar Kopper Stipendium.

She has taken masterclasses with musicians such as András Schiff, Rita Wagner, Ferenc Rados, Gidon Kremer, Dora Schwarzberg, Vadim Repin, Mariana Sirbu, Ana Chumachenco, Vadim Gluzman, Yossi Zivoni, Mauricio Fuks, Gabor Takács-Nagy, Christoph Eschenbach, Marc Danel and Ivry Gitlis among many others.

An enthusiastic chamber musician, Mairéad has been invited to perform at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, the Westport Festival of Chamber Music, the Clandeboye Music Festival, the Mantova chamber Music Festival, the Grachtenfestival and the Rolandseck Festival. Mairéad participated in Chamber Music Connects the World 2016, Kronberg, where she performed with Steven Isserlis and Christian Tetzlaff. She has also collaborated with artists including Barry Douglas, Tabea Zimmermann, Fazil Say, Marc Coppey, Mate Bekavac, Irena Grafenauer, Alexander Lonquich, Andreas Reiner, Pieter Wispelway, Michel Lethiec, Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Boris Berezovsky and the Vanbrugh Quartet.

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 also plays traditional Irish music and has won eight world Irish fiddle titles. She has an instructional app ‘Irish Fiddler’ which is available on iTunes.

Mairéad currently plays a Giovanni Tononi violin, kindly loaned to her through the Beares International Violin Society. She is supported by the Arts Council and the Music Network Music Capital Scheme, funded by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Mate Bekavac, clarinettist is recognised as one of the great clarinettists of his generation, despite of his “commercial shyness”. Wherever he appears, he’s hailed among colleagues and critics as the “secret favourite”, a full-blooded musician and a virtuoso who risks and isn’t spoiled by current fashion tendencies of music industry. A devoted, silent seeker with a special, subtly nuanced sound beyond bright or dark, French or German clarinet stereotype tendencies (he is perhaps the only one who ever gained perfection in both systems), always in favour of musical expression and sincere transmission of written or hidden musical texts. His repertoire ranges from baroque adaptations, classical, romantic and contemporary clarinet repertoire, as well as jazz and klezmer influenced pieces. He gained his wide international acclaim by his single time performance of his own arrangement of the Carmen Fantasy, which is documented on YouTube.

He was born in Ljubljana, Slovenia in 1977 and received his first musical education with F.Trzan and D.Brlek in native Ljubljana. He continued his studies at University of Graz with B.Kovacs, then took his MA degree at Salzburg Mozarteum with A.Brandhofer. He also studied in professional studies program at Juilliard School of Music in New York under C.Neidich and in “cycle de perfectionnement” at Paris Conservatory (CNSM) with Michel Arrignon. He has won the Mozarteum 1992 award, the Eurovision Jury award in Warsaw 1994, Grand prix of the Yamaha competition in Vienna 1994 and competitions in Lisbon (1994), Seville (1995), Belgrade(1997). He was also finalist of YCA competition on New York 1996. He appeared as soloist with chamber orchestras Franz Liszt, Cappela Istropolitana, Camerata Israel, Moscow soloists Salzburg soloists, Munich soloists and Zagreb soloists, Orchester der Philharmonie der Nationen, Saarlandischen Rundfunk, Orchester der Oper in Frankfurt, Symphonie Orchester Basel and all Slovenian orchestras.

His special devotion, love and central part of his musical career is chamber music, played with Gidon Kremer, Yuri Bashmet, Lyn Harrell, Heinz Holliger, Irena Grafenauer, Kuss-Philharmonia Berlin-, Arriaga-, Minguet and Doric string quartets, Elena Baskhirova, Khatia Buniatishvili, Katia Skanavi, Patricia Kopachinskaja, Sol Gabeta, Alina Ibragimova, Frans Helmerson, Nicolas Altstaedt, Claudio Bohorques, Maxim Rysanov, Antoine Tamestit, members of Orchester der Bayerischen Rundfunk, MET-orchestra New York and London Symphony orchestra. He collaborated with conductors M. Jansons, B.Haitink, N.Harnoncourt, K.Masur, Z. Mehta, C.Davies, N.Jaervi, C.Mackerras, C.Hogwood, M.Perahia, I.Perlman. Frequently he is guest at festivals in Lockenhaus, Jerusalem, Les Museiques in Basel, Rheingau Musik Festival, Ludwigsburger Festspiele, Dubrovnik, Lucerne and Munich. As an orchestral musician, he played solo clarinet in Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

He tends to enjoy most of his time away from the daily tumult in the Slovenian mountains, studying, researching, developing new insights and ways of musical understanding as well as discovering nature and passionately cooking on open fires for his friends and himself.

Violinist, Stephen Waarts’, innate and individual musical voice is establishing him as a firm favourite with audiences. With a voracious appetite for repertoire, Stephen has already performed over thirty standard, as well as rarely performed, violin concertos and is a passionate chamber musician.

Forthcoming highlights include a return to the Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and the Philharmonie Zuidnederland as well as debuts with Orchestre National de Belgique, Szczecin Philharmonic, Slovak Philharmonic, Cape Town Philharmonic and Oulu Symphony. Stephen performed with Martin Helmchen as part of the Luzerner Sinfonieorchester’s concert series at Mount Pilatus; he gave both recital and chamber concerts as part of his 2018 Verbier residency at Schloss Elmau, collaborated with András Schiff during the pianist’s 2018/19 residency at the Berlin Konzerthaus, and performed with Tabea Zimmermann at the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn. Stephen will also give recitals in Japan, France, Italy and Belgium.

Stephen appeared at the Lincoln Center as part of the 2018 Mostly Mozart Festival, made his debuts with the hr-Sinfonieorchester under Christoph Eschenbach, Kansas City Symphony under David Zinman, Tampere Philharmonic, and Munich Symphony Orchestra. In 2017, Stephen made his New York concerto debut with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, as part of the Young Concert Artists’ annual gala, which received critical acclaim in both the New York Times and The Strad. He has made highly successful debut recitals at the Merkin Concert Hall, New York; Kennedy Center, Washington DC, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, the Louvre in Paris, Dubrovnik Summer Festival and Tonhalle Zürich.

In June 2018, Stephen recorded his debut recital album for Rubicon Classics with pianist Gabriele Carcano, featuring works by Schumann and Bartók – composers he champions – and the album was released in November 2018. Stephen will also be collaborating on a Hindemith recording project with Christoph Eschenbach for Ondine Classics.

His prize-winning success at the 2015 Queen Elisabeth Competition – including securing the majority vote of the television audience – boosted international attention. In March 2017 he was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant. Following his debut at the Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in 2017, Stephen was awarded the 2017 soloist prize which was presented in September 2018. In 2015, he was awarded the Mozart Gesellschaft Dortmund scholarship following his appearance at the Krzyżowa-Music Festival.

Stephen is currently at the Kronberg Academy studying under Mihaela Martin and recently graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from the Curtis Institute, Philadelphia where he studied under Aaron Rosand. Prior to this, he worked with Itzhak Perlman at the Perlman Music Program and Li Lin at the San Francisco Conservatory. In 2013 he won the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York, aged just 17. He was also prize-winner at the 2013 Montreal International Competition and won first prize at the 2014 Menuhin Competition.

Cellist Ivan Karizna attracted worldwide attention when, at the age of 19, he became the third prizewinner at the 14th International Tchaikovsky Competition in 2011. Since then, he has been able to prove his talent with numerous competition successes, among others as the winner of the music competition of the Società Umanitaria in Milan, the Guilhermina Suggia Competition in Porto or the Luis Sigall Competition in Chile. In 2017 he participated with great success in the renowned Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, where he was awarded the Prix de la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale and the Prix Musiq’3.

Ivan Karizna pursues a very intensive concert career, which takes him to prestigious concert venues all over the world such as the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Berliner Konzerthaus, the Salle Pleyel, the Salle Cortot and the Philharmonie in Paris, the BOZAR-Palais in Brussels or the Benaroya Hall in Seattle. He works regularly with conductors such as Valery Gergiev, Ion Marin, Mikhail Jurowsky and Vladimir Spivakov and has performed with such renowned orchestras as the Mariinsky Theater Symphony Orchestra, the St. Petersburg Philharmonics, the Strasbourg Philharmonics, the Slovenian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre de Paris and the Mexican Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco.

In 2012 Ivan Karizna appeared at Chamber Music Connects the World, where he performed together with Gidon Kremer, Yuri Bashmet and Christian Tetzlaff. He has also been invited by festivals such as the Yuri Bashmet International Music Festival, the Colmar International Music Festival, the Spring of Arts Festival in Monte Carlo and the Rostropovich Festival in Berlin.

Ivan Karizna was born into a family of musicians in Belarus in 1992 and received his first cello lessons at the age of five. At the age of seven, he was accepted into the class of Vladmir Perlin. From 2009 to 2014 he studied at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse Paris with Jerôme Pernoo, graduating with distinction.

Since 2016 he has been studying at the renowned Kronberg Academy for highly gifted violinists, violists and cellists with Frans Helmerson.

“I know Ivan Karizna already for a number of years. This brilliant young cellist and a real personality as a musician always impresses me with his playing. No doubt – he has something special to say and this always will be recognized by music lovers and professionals.”
– Gidon Kremer

“Ivan Karizna is an excellent young cellist, one of the best of his generation. He is a natural musician with a brilliant technique and rare tonal beauty. He deserves to be heard.”
– Andras Schiff

Russian-German violist Georgy Kovalev, born in 1990 in Tiflis (Georgia), is one of the leading violists of his generation.

After finishing his studies with Yuri Bashmet and Matthias Buchholz, he is now currently a student of Nobuko Imai at the Kronberg Academy.

Georgy Kovalev has performed with leading orchestras such as the Kremerata Baltica Chamber Orchestra, New Russia State Symphony Orchestra, Munich Chamber Orchestra, Moscow Soloists Chamber Orchestra, New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra among others.

He is a prize winner and a finalist of international competitions such as Yuri Bashmet International Competition in Moscow, Tokyo International Viola Competition, and the Brahms International Competition. In 2011 he received the Neva Foundation Prize awarded by the Verbier Festival.

His chamber music partners included Gidon Kremer, Christian Tetzlaff, Steven Isserlis, Yuri Bashmet, Fazil Say, Frans Helmerson, Emanuel Ax, Jörg Widmann, Viviane Hagner, Claudio Bohorquez, Lawrence Lesser, at renowned international music festivals such as Schubertiade, Verbier Festival, Ravinia Festival, Heidelberger Frühling, Rheingau Festival, and Kronberg Academy Festival.

Georgy Kovalev has performed at concert venues such as the Victoria Hall (Geneva), Theatre des Champs-Elysées (Paris), Cologne Philharmonic Hall, Kioi Hall (Tokyo), Prinz Regent Theater Hall (Munich), Gordon Bennett Hall (Chicago), Grand Hall of Moscow Conservatory.

His future engagements include solo recitals and concertos in USA, Germany, Ireland, Holland, France, Italy, Austria, Greece.

Georgy plays a viola by Simon Bernand Fendt (London 1820) kindly on loan to him by the Deutsche Stiftung Musikleben.

Killian White, cello, is the first cellist to be awarded the RDS Music Bursary, the single largest annual classical music award in Ireland, and one of the largest in Europe. Killian was described as “an outstanding winner who impressed with a superb performance and a crystal clear sense of purpose,” by John O’Kane (RTE) and, “undoubtedly a performer with a very exciting career ahead of him” by Michael Duffy (RDS CEO). Prior to being awarded the bursary, Killian was the recipient of numerous awards and prizes, including the Fr Frank Maher Award (2017), the Aileen Gore Cup and RTE Lyric FM Award at ESB Feis Ceoil, the National Concert Hall Young Musician Award, the Flax Trust Award and the Audience Prize at Camerata Ireland Clandeboye Music Festival (2015).

Born in 2000, Killian studied first with Martin Johnson, principal cellist with the NSO, and then with Christopher Marwood at the Royal Irish Academy of Music. He recently commenced a Bachelors degree at the Barenboim-Said Akademie in Berlin, under world renowned professor Frans Helmerson. This year in Berlin he performed at the Pierre Boulez Saal and at the James Simon Gallerie, while also engaging in solo performances in London, Dublin and throughout Ireland.

Killian has a particular passion for chamber music and performed in the National Concert Hall Chamber Music Gathering in January 2017, 2018 and 2019. He recently performed as part of the Ophelia Quartet at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival. He also enjoys orchestral performance and in January 2016 he was principal cellist with the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland. From 2015 to 2017 he participated in the Verbier Festival Junior Orchestra in Switzerland.

Killian has performed as soloist with many orchestras including the RTE Concert Orchestra, Kaunas Symphony Orchestra, the Hibernian Orchestra, Dublin Symphony Orchestra, the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Estonia and the New York Concerti Sinfonietta at Carnegie Hall. He has attended masterclasses with many renowned musicians such as Daniel Barenboim, Jerome Pernoo, Mauricio Fuks, and Andres Diaz. Killian is performing on an early 20th Century Belgian Cello kindly loaned to him by the Royal Irish Academy of Music.

20-year-old Séamus Hickey, viola, studies viola with Marjolein Dispa and Nobuko Imai at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam and chamber music with the Nederlandse StrijkKwartet Academie. Until 2018, Seamus studied viola with Simon Aspell, violin (Adrian Petcu, Siún Milne), piano (Marian McCarthy, Nicholas O’Halloran) and chamber music (Adrian Petcu, Chris Marwood) at the CIT Cork School of Music. In transition year, he studied at the Conservatoire de Nantes, France with Prof Constantin Serban.

He was placed first in the Aileen Gore Cup at Feis Ceoil, Dublin and was awarded the RTÉ Lyric FM award. He performed in April 2019 in the Feis Ceoil Gala Performance at the National Concert Hall, Dublin. In 2018, he was a finalist in the Irish Freemasons’ Young Musician of the Year, where he was awarded the John Vallery Memorial Prize for the best performance by a string player. He was awarded the 2018 Capuchin Order Instrumental Perpetual Trophy and Music Bursary for Advanced Recital in Feis Maitiú, Cork.

Séamus has participated in masterclasses with Tabea Zimmerman, Marc Danel, Hartmut Rohde, Nobuko Imai, Sophia Reuter, Denis Brott, Dmitri Ferschtman, Juan Miguel Hernandez and members of the Artis Quartet, Quatuor Danel, the Con Tempo Quartet and the Vanbrugh Quartet. A dedicated chamber musician, Séamus plays in a variety of ensembles. In 2018 and 2019 he performed at the National String Quartet Foundation’s Gathering in the National Concert Hall and also in the masterclass programme at the West Cork International Chamber Music Festival with the Red Abbey Quartet. This year he performed with the Irish Chamber Orchestra Academy in St Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick.

As the current violist of the Ophelia Quartet, alongside Phoebe and Killian White and Colma Ní Bhriain, he will participate again in the West Cork Festival in Bantry 2019. In Amsterdam, Seamus performs with the Najbolji Kuartet. He also performs with a contemporary, experimental trio ‘3Violas’, exploring the breadth and sonority of the viola’s capabilities, while arranging and improvising music for the viola.

Séamus was the leader of the Cork Youth Orchestra from 2015-17. He also plays traditional Irish music and has toured across Europe performing with various ensembles. He has twice been an All-Ireland finalist on the fiddle and was placed 2nd in the All-Ireland whistling championship.

Gráinne Ní Luasa, pianist, is in her final year of the BMus at CIT Cork School of Music. She is currently studying with Mary Beattie, having studied previously with Gabriela Mayer and Jan Čáp.

She has had masterclasses from many renowned pianists including Finghin Collins, Barry Douglas, Philip Martin, Pavel Nersessian, Ewa Pablocka, and Tatiana Zelikman.

From a young age, she has been a regular prize-winner at local and national competitions, and was winner of the CIT Cork School of Music Advanced Recital Competition in 2017. In April 2018 she performed in the RDS as part of the Rising Stars concert series. This April, she will perform in the Rising Stars concert at the University Concert Hall Limerick.

Gráinne is a versatile musician whose repertoire ranges from early to contemporary. She is a keen chamber musician and is currently a member the Alchemus Trio. In June 2018 she performed Schubert in the Aula Maxima, UCC, with members of the Vanbrugh. In September 2017 she performed Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements with SinfoNua in the National Concert Hall, under conductor David Brophy.

Gráinne has performed on piano and organ with choirs including Madrigal ’75 and Cappella Lyrica, and also studies harpsichord with Pauline McSweeney.

24-year-old cellist Sinéad O’Halloran is quickly establishing herself as one of Ireland’s most exciting young musicians. She began her musical studies at the CIT Cork School of Music under the guidance of Joan Scannell and Christopher Marwood. At the age of 18 she was offered an Artistic Merit Scholarship to pursue a postgraduate Performer’s Diploma at SMU Meadows School of the Arts in Dallas, Texas in the classes of renowned cellists Andres Diaz and Christopher Adkins. She is currently a student of Gregor Horsch (Principal cellist of Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra) at the Robert  Schumann Hochschule Düsseldorf.

An avid chamber musician, Sinéad has performed at IMS Open Chamber Music (Prussia Cove, UK), the West Cork Chamber Music Festival (Ireland), the Banff Centre (Canada), the opening of the Bozar Season (Brussels) and the 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall (Germany).
She has been a prizewinner in numerous competitions, both in Ireland and the US. She has collaborated with musicians including Barry Douglas, Tasmin Little, the Vanbrugh String Quartet and Zoltán Fejérvári. Together with violinist Mairéad Hickey, she is co-founder and Artistic Director of the Ortús Chamber Music Festival, bringing together musicians from Ireland and abroad for concerts, education work and audience development in the wider community.

Sinéad is currently Principal Cellist of the European Union Youth Orchestra. She was recently selected by Maestro Ivan Fischer for the Budapest Festival Orchestra Apprenticeship Scheme. She has also performed with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Spira Mirabilis, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Georgian Chamber Orchestra and iPalpiti Ensemble of International Laureates. She has performed in some of the world’s finest concert halls under the baton of Bernard Haitink, Gianandrea Noseda, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Jörg Widmann and Vasily Petrenko.

Sinéad gratefully acknowledges support from the Arts Council of Ireland, Music Network, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Cork City Arts Office.