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Spirit of the Violin

Spirit of the Violin

Cathy Irons (violin)
4pm Wednesday 21 November
Wanaka Library
free event

Christchurch Symphony Orchestra violinist Cathy Irons will visit Wanaka library as part of her Southern NZ tour. Her passion for music and violinistic virtuosity continues to enthrall audiences around NZ and she is looking forward to performing a diverse programme including Spanish-inspired music and the children's story for solo violin and narrator, Ferdinand the Bull.

“I have performed in extreme venues, from the bottom of a fishpond, to a violently rocking steam train,” commented Cathy. “I hope to share some of these stories interspersed with a variety of enjoyable violin pieces.”

With an interest in children, Cathy will present music suitable for all ages, from nursery rhymes to Bach's Gavotte, also including lively Spanish and Irish music.

Cathy will share her musical expertise at several locations over the week, including a performance with pianist Mark Wilson in Queenstown, teaching Kingsview School about the orchestra, playing at Alexandra library and giving an open masterclass on violin in Alexandra. Connecting with people and the wider community is an important part of her life as she feels “sharing music with others is a gift – whether it is on stage or during a lesson.” It is no surprise then, that she is also the Outreach and Education Co-ordinator for the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.

Her sound has been described in reviews as “exquisite” and “enchanting,” and her music performed with “consummate professionalism.”

Questions and Answers

What is your favourite music?
I thought it was classical, but a few years back I decided to give jazz a go. I wanted to try learning improvisation, as I thought it would give my classical performances more freedom. It did, but I also found I loved improvising and wanted to do jazz! So now I have a foot happily in both camps.

So then what happened?
I was at a bar with a classical/jazz pianist one evening on a baroque tour and we were waiting for a table at the nearby restaurant. We started playing using the bar's out-of-tune piano and my violin, and it turned into a jazz session. Then he invited me to perform at a jazz concert with drums and bass. I found it immense fun and totally and wonderfully out of my comfort zone!

What will you play in this concert?
The Spirit of the Violinis a selection of pieces with many different styles. I will “wing” it a bit on the day, choosing pieces, depending on what I notice the audience enjoying the most. I find children enjoy nursery rhymes and interactive activities, to keep them involved and interested. I look forward to sharing interesting moments and stories in my life on my musical journey too.

What’s your most embarrassing moment?
I walked on stage to do a recital and my beaded lacy blouse got caught in the music stand as I went passed it, to bow. Since my hands were carrying my violin, my accompanist had to untangle me. Worse than that – it happened again when I came back on stage to do an encore. The audience thought it was hilarious.

What memorable responses have you had to your work?
People are wonderful encouragers. During a performance, I give it my all and afterwards feel very vulnerable and wonder if they liked it. Perhaps most touching, are that people say they feel moved by my performances. It must reach deep into their souls.

What do you like about your work?
I love playing. I could play all day every day. There is something about the sound of a violin – when you put your thoughts and mood into the music and it responds with its full tone. It's really rewarding and addictive! I also love meeting new people and travelling.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
An audience member once said to me, “Keep doing it!” after a concert. It's a bumpy road as a musician but that encouragement has often kept me going. And each time I do, I am caught up in the magical excitement of each performance again.

What wouldn’t you do without?
My family. No matter what happens we are there for each other.

Cathy Irons is an established violinist, touring NZ regularly as a performer and teacher. She performs in the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and in recitals, often as part of the string trio Tres Cordes and also in her Classical Jazz Quartet. She has broadcast regularly on Radio New Zealand Concert, Plains FM and on television. She performed recently in Christchurch's IceFest and was the violinist in a production by the Court Theatre. She records and arranges for several rock artists and has recorded 5 classical CDs. She has recently “gone public” with her jazz violin and hasn't stopped to look backwards. She is also the Outreach and Education Co-ordinator for the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.


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