One of Ireland’s most accomplished young violinists, Mairéad Hickey won first prize in the Jeunesses Musicales Violin Competition, Romania 2012 and the Antonio Salieri Prize in Italy 2010. Irish NCH Young Musician of the Year 2010-12, Mairéad has also been awarded the Fr. Frank Maher Scholarship, the Belfast Clandeboye Festival Flax Trust Bursary and the Bank of Ireland Catherine Judge Memorial Award. Performing regularly throughout Ireland, she has recorded with both the RTÉ National Concert and Symphony Orchestras. Abroad, Mairéad has performed in venues including the Royal Festival Hall, London and Carnegie Hall, New York.
Born in 1996, Mairéad started the violin aged 3 and studied with Adrian Petcu at the CIT Cork School of Music. She spent 2011-12 at the Conservatoire de Nantes, France with Constantin Serban. Mairéad participated in Chamber Music Connects the World 2016, Kronberg, where she performed with Steven Isserlis, Christian Tetzlaff and Mate Bekavac. She is now studying with Mihaela Martin at Kronberg Academy, sponsored by the Hilmar Kopper Stipendium.
An enthusiastic chamber musician, Mairéad has appeared numerous times in the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, the Westport Festival of Chamber Music and the Clandeboye Music Festival. She is the co-founder and Artistic Director of the Ortús Chamber Music Festival which took place for the first time in February 2016. Mairéad has collaborated with artists including Barry Douglas, Boris Berezovsky, Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Nurit Stark, Cédric Pescia and Monika Leskovar. She also plays traditional Irish music and is the winner of eight All Ireland fiddle titles. Her instructional app ‘Irish Fiddler’ is available on iTunes.
Mairéad currently plays a 1702 Tononi violin, kindly loaned to her by a generous sponsor 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.
22-year-old Irish cellist Sinéad O’Halloran has been hailed as ‘..reminiscent of Jacqueline du Pré..’ (IRISH EXAMINER). She began her musical studies at the age of 6 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 – Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra) at the Robert Schumann Hochschule in Düsseldorf.
Sinéad’s passion for chamber music began at an early age, and her inspiration was sparked by the many summers spent at ConCorda and the Xenia Ensemble’s International Course for Young String Players in Pra Catinat, Italy. An avid chamber musician, Sinéad has performed at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, the Bozar and the 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. She has been a prizewinner in numerous competitions, both in Ireland and the US.
Sinéad began her orchestral training at the age of 8 and since then has acted as Principal Cellist of the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland, the CITCSM Symphony Orchestra and Meadows Symphony Orchestra (Dallas). She is currently a full member of the European Union Youth Orchestra, with whom she has toured Europe, the Caribbean and the United Arab Emirates. She regularly performs with Spira Mirabilis around Italy.
Recent international festival appearances include Amsterdam Cello Biennale (the Netherlands), International Musician’s Seminar Prussia Cove (Cornwall, UK), Banff Summer Arts Festival (Alberta, Canada), Euro Music Festival (Halle, Germany) and Clandeboye Music Festival (Northern Ireland).
Sinéad is kindly supported by the Arts Council and the Music Network Music Capital Scheme, funded by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. She currently plays on a Nicolaus Gagliano 1775 cello, kindly on loan to her from the Gessellschaft der Freunder und Förderer der RSH.
As an internationally recognised chamber musician and soloist, Ruth Gibson has appeared at the world’s leading concert halls, including Wigmore Hall, Het Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Queen Elizabeth hall, Auditiorio Sony in Madrid and Berlin Konzerthaus.
As soloist she has performed under Sir John Elliott Gardiner with the Bournemouth Symphony and has broadcasted for BBC4. As a 2015 Park Lane Group Solo Artist she preformed the viola works of Penderecki at the Purcell Room in London and in 2015 performed John Woolrich’s Ulysses Awakes for Solo Viola and Strings in Germany.
Her love of chamber music is fulfilled through her work as a member of Ensemble 360. The critically acclaimed 11 piece ensemble perform throughout the UK, appearing regularly on BBC Radio 3 and some of the largest festivals in the UK including Wigmore Hall, the National Centre for Early Music, Bath International Festival, Buxton Festival, Leamington Music Festival and Manchester Chamber Concert series.
Alongside Ensemble 360, she plays regularly with the Nash Ensemble, Scottish Ensemble and Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, having recently performed at Wigmore Hall, Cadogan Hall, Berliner Philharmoniker and toured the US with Joshua Bell. She has toured China, South America, Russia, Finland and Mexico as Principal Viola with Camerata Ireland, and regularly guests as Principal Viola with Manchester Camerata, Aurora Orchestra and City of London Sinfonia.
Ruth is a laureate of numerous prizes. As a member of the Finzi Quartet she was a Prize Winner of the 2010 Royal Over Seas League Competition and the 5th Trondheim International String Quartet Competition in Norway. Other notable awards include the Tillett Trust, the Tunnell Trust, the Kirckman Concerts Society, the Swiss Global Artistic Foundation, the Hattori Foundation Awards and the Park Lane Group Award, for which she later won as soloist in 2015.
Ruth is a tutor in Viola at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and is also the founder and artistic director of the String Quartet Collective which is currently in residence at the Royal College of Music in London.
Irish cellist Brian O’Kane enjoys a busy career as both soloist and chamber musician. Since winning first prize at the Windsor International String Competition in 2008, he has made his debuts with the RTE National Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra under Ashkenazy and in recital at the Wigmore Hall. Brian is a former “Rising Star” of Ireland’s National Concert Hall and he recently recorded his debut CD for the Champs Hill label.
An avid chamber musician, Brian enjoys playing as a member of the Cappa Ensemble and Navarra Quartet. He has collaborated with a wide variety of artists such as Michael Collins, Aleksandar Madzar, Anthony Marwood, Pekka Kuusisto, Lawrence Power, Antoine Tamestit and Sir James Galway. Brian has also performed at concert halls and festivals throughout the world such as Sydney Opera House, Suntory Hall Tokyo, Seoul Arts Centre, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, West Cork, Radio France-Montpellier, Lockenhaus and the Weesp Chamber Music Festival, Holland of which his quartet are the artistic directors.
A graduate of both the Royal Academy of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, Brian‘s biggest influences have come from Louise Hopkins and at Prussia Cove, Aldeburgh & Chamber Studio from studies with Ralph Kirshbaum, Steven Isserlis, Ferenc Rados and Eberhard Feltz. Brian currently plays on a Rugieri cello made in Cremona c.1690.
Gary Beecher, ‘Irish Freemason’s Young Musician of the Year 2014’, graduated from the Bachelor of Music Degree at the CIT Cork School of Music with First Class Honours under the tutelage of Jan Čáp in June 2016.
Gary began his musical studies at the age of six at the CIT CSM under the guidance of Susan Čáp and later studied as an external degree student under Dr. John O’Conor at the RIAM. Gary also spent his third year of study on exchange at the Universitat der Kunste, Berlin, in the class of Jacques Rouvier.
One of Gary’s most prominent achievements to date was his solo debut with the RTE Concert Orchestra in the National Concert Hall in August 2015, along with being selected to represent Ireland in the Dublin International Piano Competition in May 2015 following his success in the Irish Preliminary Round in December 2014.
An annual prizewinner of national competitions, Gary won the Mabel Swainson Senior Pianoforte Award in Feis Ceoil Dublin in March 2014, and was awarded a number of solo recitals which were well received; “Beecher’s marshaling of the huge sonorities demanded by the piece [Liszt’s Dante sonata] bespoke a maturity of both technique and interpretive outlook rare in a 21-year-old player”(Belfast Telegraph)
Gary is an avid chamber musician and has performed chamber music recitals with duo partners Mairead Hickey (Violin) and Sinead O’Halloran (Cello) in the John Field Room, National Concert Hall, RDS Concert Hall “Rising Stars Concert Series”, Curtis Auditorium CSM, Cork City Hall, and at the Westport Chamber Music Festival.
Gary has performed solo recitals in venues such as the National Concert Hall Dublin, The John Field Room NCH, the RDS Concert Hall, Anaverna House Louth, New Ross Piano Festival (launch), the Curtis Auditorium CSM, Joseph Joachim Konzertsaal, Berlin, and Teatro Grande, Brescia, Italy.
At 19 years of age, Irish violinist Phoebe White has already embarked on an exciting career at an international level. She has won numerous awards and prizes including the National Concert Hall Dublin Young Musician’s Award, the Maura Dowdall and Colin Staveley Awards at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, the Dublin Philharmonic Award, and 1st prize at the Noor Muusik Young Musician Competition in Tallinn, Estonia. She is a multiple prize winner at Electric Ireland Feis Ceoil in both ensemble and solo competitions. She has performed as a soloist with the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Midlands Youth Orchestra of Ireland, and Young European Strings Chamber Orchestra. She held the position of concertmaster of the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland from 2013-2015, with whom she toured the United Arab Emirates, Portugal and Ireland. As a chamber musician, Phoebe has performed with the Sonoro Quartet to great acclaim at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival. She also collaborates regularly with Irish pianist Peter Regan. Further engagements for the 2017 season include a solo performance with the RTE Concert Orchestra in Dublin. In 2015, Phoebe was offered a Premier Young Artist Award Scholarship to the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University, where she is currently studying with the renowned Professor of violin, Mauricio Fuks. Phoebe White is kindly supported by Music Network’s Music Capital Scheme, funded by The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Music Network is funded by The Arts Council.
Irish Soprano Kelley Lonergan, described by The Irish Times as “a natural”and “the type of voice one could predict an exciting future for”, is a recent alumna of Opera Theatre Company’s Young Associate Artist programme in Ireland.
She is a recipient of several awards, including the esteemed RDS Music Bursary 2013, which is the largest bursary on offer to young musicians in Ireland. Kelley was also a multiple prizewinner during the 2013 Feis Ceoil, in Dublin, prizes include the John McCormack Bursary, the Mrs. P.J Geoghegan Memorial Cup and the Gervase Elwes Cup for best overall singer of the competition.
Kelley graduated from the CIT Cork School of Music with first class honours in both her BMus and Masters in Performance. In 2012, while on Erasmus, she had the opportunity to study singing at the Conservatorio di Verona, Italy. Kelley then went on to study at the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama and is currently travelling to London for lessons to study with Janice Chapman.
In July 2014 she made her lunchtime debut with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra in a concert entitled “Ciao Italia”. Kelley also made her live radio debut on lyric fm with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra in March 2014.
Her operatic roles include Mimi (La Boheme, DIT) and Mrs. Grose (The Turn of the Screw – DIT) Kelley took part in the 62nd Wexford Festival Opera as a member of the chorus in two main stage productions Il cappello di paglia di Firenze and Cristina Regina di Svezia.