Aoife Ni Dhornain, Violin

Aoife Durnin by Priory Studios

Aoife Ni Dhornain began her violin studies in 1983 with Suzuki method. She attended conferences in Cork in 1985 and in Berlin in 1987. In 1989 she continued her studies with Brian McNamara in The College of Music. Aoife graduated from UCD with a 1st class honours Bachelor of Music in 1998 and went on to complete a Masters in Music Performance in University of Limerick studying with Hugh Maguire, Mauritzio Fuchs, Georg Pauk and Katherine Hunka. She directed the chamber orchestra in UCD to great acclaim, and returned to play as soloist with the Baroque orchestra in 2000. Aoife was chosen to play with the Viennese Youth orchestra in 1999 and after being invited to play with the Jeunesse Musical Orchestre in Switzerland in1997 she was asked to lead the Orchestra in a Swiss tour. She performs regularly as soloist and chamber musician throughout Ireland and has toured extensively across Europe and the United States. Aoife has been a member of IBO since 1998 and has played a number of Baroque projects with the Opera Theatre Company including a memorable rendition of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater in a Grotto on Valencia Island in collaboration with visual artist Dorothy Cross. Since graduating she has studied Baroque Violin with Maya Homburger and Elizabeth Wallfisch. She has performed throughout Ireland with Andrew Manze, Lucy van Dael, Elizabeth Wallfisch, Maya Homburger, Emma Kirkby and Monica Huggett.

Aine O’ Halloran, Violin


Aine O’Halloran began violin and viola lessons with Sheila Cronin in Newry, Co.Down.

Later at Trinity College of Music, London, she studied with some of the most inspirational teachers and performers from the Classical Music world – Keith Cummings, Keith Lovell, and John Underwood. String Quartet studies were with the Alberni Quartet, members of the Amadeus Quartet and Sandor Vegh.

Aine has an LTCL Performers Diploma from Trinity and an Honours Masters in Classical String Performance in violin and viola from the Irish World Academy, University of Limerick where she studied with Mariana Sirbu and Bruno Giuranna. During these periods of study she was awarded the Student’s Union Chamber Music Price on two occasions, The Louise Band Prize, The Sir John Barbirolli Prize and the Irish Chamber Orchestra/University of Limerick ‘Sing Out With Strings’ Scholarship.

Aine has played with The Cork City Quartet, Cork Pops Orchestra, Belfast Baroque Orchestra, Silver Strings Duo, Tafel Consort, Celtic Lyre Orchestra, Cork Opera House Orchestra and the Sterling String Quartet at concerts and festivals in Ireland, Europe and throughout London. She conducts the DBLO, an orchestra which facilitates adults returning to music performance.

Aine is delighted to be a member of the Cork Baroque Orchestra and looks forward to rehearsing and performing with the orchestra during the 2013 East Cork Early Music Festival and in the future.

Ioana Petcu-Colan, Violin


The daughter of two professional violinists, Ioana Petcu-Colan gave her debut performance at the age of six. She now enjoys a rich and diverse career following a musical education continued in France, UK and Ireland.

Ioana has given solo performances of many of the great violin concertos including Mozart, Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Khatchaturian, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Bach and Bruch.

Collaborations have included projects with artists as diverse as Barry Douglas (piano), John Abercrombie (jazz guitar), Martin Hayes (traditional fiddle) and Canadian rock group Arcade Fire. Stylistically, Ioana is at home in everything from Baroque music on period instruments to the traditional music of South America and she is violinist and founder member of piano trio Ensemble Avalon.

Recordings include the Bruch Concerto with the RTECO and a disc of piano trios with Ensemble Avalon, both on the Lyric label.

Contemporary music plays a big part in Ioana’s professional life, she was invited by major international publishing house Universal Edition to edit ‘Violin Project’ and highlights to date include working intensively with Arvo Part on his own music and duetting with Philip Glass in concert. Ongoing projects include Ian Wilson’s critically acclaimed ‘Una Santa Oscura’, described as ‘an opera without words’ for solo violin.

Ioana is currently Associate Leader with the Ulster Orchestra and lives in Bangor with her musician husband and their two little daughters.

Ilse de Ziah, Cello


Ilse de Ziah was born in Connecticut, USA. From seven she grew up in Sydney, Australia where over the years she had lessons in piano, cello, pipe organ, harpsichord, recorder, madrigal singing and violin. She began formal cello lessons at age twelve and after musical studies at Sydney Conservatorium of Music, moved to London. There she was a member of the Adam Darius Mime Company, performing in theaters in the West End.

During this time she was known worldwide through tours and performances with her own duo Jan and Ilse. She also toured with notable musicians and performers including the actor/singer Russell Crowe. In 2002 she settled in Ireland and now performs regularly around Ireland as actor/musician and arranger in shows including the Cork Opera House production of Dido and Aeneas and the award winning Pagliacci at the Everyman Theatre, Cork

She performs with her classical Scarlet String Quartet, the experimental Quiet Music Ensemble and is a founding member of Ozmosis. Ilse composes music for dance and film and arranges music for session recordings and is is principal cellist of the City of Cork Symphony Orchestra.

She also performs solo cello concerts and has published a book and CD Irish Airs for Solo Cello as well as other music she has published for her online store Over summer 2013 Ilse teamed up with filmmaker Maarten Roos to film a documentary called ‘Living the Tradition’ based on her CD, searching for the history and stories of old Irish airs and playing in the places where they originated.

Marja Gaynor, Violin

Marja Gynor

Marja Gaynor hails from Finland but has been an honorary Corkonian, on and off, since 2000. She was awarded a first class honours MA in baroque and modern violin at Cork’s School of Music in 2004, and went on to study barokviool at the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague with Pavlo Beznosiuk.

Since returning to Ireland she has landed a dream job with the Irish Baroque Orchestra (lead by the legendary violinist Monica Huggett) and has also had the good fortune to be able to play with Camerata Kilkenny (with whom she recorded JS Bach’s Musical Offering to great critical acclaim), as well as other leading Baroque groups around Europe.

Outside of baroque Marja is passionate about new music, and works with Dublin Sound Lab, an electro-acoustic group performing contemporary music from Ireland and abroad. She is much sought

after for studio & session work as a player and arranger, and highlights in this field so far include a much-praised modern take on Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas” for  Cork Opera House in 2011, as well as string arrangement on Glen Hansard’s Oscar-winner song “Falling Slowly”.

Marja has a shady past involving Irish, Finnish and East European traditional music, but she doesn’t really talk about it, although you might still spot her playing the odd gig with her world music band Polskadots. On a serious note, she is the new Artistic Director of the East Cork Early Music Festival and teaches baroque violin and chamber music at Cork’s School of Music. She is also a not very good but very enthusiastic amateur horse rider.

Photo Credit: Virginia Thomas

Aingeala de Búrca, Violin

Aingeala De Búrca JPEG

Aingeala de Búrca began her violin studies aged 5 in the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin, where she studied with Maeve Broderick.

She holds an honours degree in Music from Trinity College Dublin and a Masters in performance from the University of Limerick where she studied with Mariana Sirbu. She has had baroque violin lessons with Ann Wallstrom (Stockholm Conservatory), Maya Homburger (Switzerland) and attended masterclasses with Richard Gwilt, Monica Huggett and Elizabeth Wallfisch.

A combination of growing up in an environment rich with Irish language, music and culture, with experiences of improvising on electric violin at a very young age, led to a fascination with a variety of genres and improvising. This was developed further when she trained as a music therapist in the UK in 1997/98. As a result, she has enjoyed a varied career as a freelance violinist performing with the major Irish orchestras, while demonstrating her quality and diversity performing with such groups as the Irish Baroque Orchestra, Rough Magic Theatre Company, Anuna, and numerous Irish rock bands, most notably In Tua Nua.

She enjoys performing in more unusual venues such as hospitals, schools and prisons, and has facilitated numerous workshops in many educational and healthcare settings on behalf of the National Concert Hall’s Education programme.

In 2003, she began the fascinating, life-and-musicianship-enhancing process of training as a teacher of the Alexander Technique with Don Weed (Interactive Teaching Method) and qualified in 2007.

Elaine Sexton, Violin


Elaine began to learn the violin at the age of 5 in Cork, Ireland, under the tuition of Patricia Kelleher through the Suzuki Method. She moved to Glasgow in 2003 to commence her studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (formerly RSAMD) where she studied with Peter Lissauer and Ruth Slater. Elaine gained a BMus (1st Hons) in 2007 and a PgDipMus in 2008. She won the Orchestral Prize in 2005 and the Hilda Bailey Violin Prize in 2008. Whilst studying, Elaine took part in many masterclasses, most notably with Midori, Jonathon Morton, and the Brodsky and Maggini Quartets. Elaine specialised in Early Music, having classes with Margaret Faultless, Catherine Mackintosh, Adrian Butterfield, and Walter Reiter.

As a freelance violinist, Elaine has played with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Orchestra of Scottish Opera, Northern Sinfonia, Gabrieli Consort and Players (incl. BBC Prom), and Dunedin Consort and Players.

Elaine has been teaching for 7 years. She has worked for the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Musicworks as an upper strings tutor, ensemble coach, musicianship tutor, and Early Years practitioner. She has also led a CPD course for their staff in Kodaly philosophy and teaching principles. Elaine has worked for the National Youth Choir of Scotland as an Early Years tutor in Glasgow schools. For the past four and a half years, Elaine has been working in a Suzuki-based department in George Watson’s College, Edinburgh.


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