Versatile violinist Cathy Irons performs concerts from baroque and classical to contemporary and jazz throughout New Zealand and abroad.
She began her violin and piano studies at the age of seven, emerging as a promising young teenage musician performing regularly on South African's national TV and radio. Her tertiary violin studies were with Jurgen Schwietering, the concertmaster of the Kwa-Zulu Natal Philharmonic Orchestra at the University of Natal, South Africa, where she graduated with a distinction for her Bachelor of Music in Orchestral Performance. In her final year of study she received an internship with the KZNPO, which she joined subsequently, before immigrating to Christchurch.
As well as her regular orchestral performances with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, she plays in several ensembles. Her string trio, Tres Cordes toured for Chamber Music New Zealand, and subsequently was invited to perform in the Deia International Festival in Mallorca, Spain. The Nikau Harp Trio with principal CSO harpist Helen Webby, is often in demand, having completed a successful national tour for Arts on Tour NZ.
Cathy's inspiring ability to open the world of violin to audiences through through exploring musical genres, ranging from classical and jazz to the vibrant sounds of Ireland and Brazil, can be heard in her newly-formed group, Douce Ambiance which tours South Island annually to full houses and standing ovations. Recent highlights have been her performance in South Africa with Platform Jazz members, Melvin Peters and Cathy Peacock, bassist Bongani Sokhela, alongside vocalist Shannon Kenny and guitarist Alan Judd.
Cathy has performed and recorded with UK musicians Cliff Richard, Aled Jones and Russell Watson (BMG & EMI labels), and New Zealanders Brooke Fraser, Craig Smith, Fiona Pears and Amiria Grenell. Festival highlights include appearances at the Christchurch Arts Festival, Cavell Leitch NZ Jazz and Blues Festival, the Dunedin Fringe Festival, and the Arrowtown Spring Arts Festival.
Critics have described her sound as: “jaw-dropping, her mastery and her lovely instrument defying any other description,” “sonic fireworks that dazzled all with their brilliance” and “an empathetic and expressive performer."
Cathy is also a passionate musical collaborator and educator, and is the Community Engagement Artist for Chamber Music New Zealand working with communities that have low access to experiences of the arts including those in challenging circumstances or with disabilities. She offers Classical Creative improvisation workshops, empowering musicians to become confident to play and collaborate with each other, and has presented these at schools nationwide and for the Auckland Philharmonia and Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.
Her contributions extend to the role of adjudicator at the Christchurch Competitions and CSM's May Music Festival. Additionally, Cathy has shared her insights through presentations and workshops at conferences for Music Education New Zealand Aotearoa, the New Zealand School of Modern Music and the Institute of Registered Music Teachers.
Maybe you'd like to unwind at a classical chamber concert, toe-tap and smile along at a jazz concert, listen to your favourite song played by a string quartet on your wedding day or at a partner's birthday, or have always wanted to play the violin. Or maybe you're a composer and want string backing?
I have had the pleasure and privilege of playing with a wide range of people on different projects in all sorts of places, and I would love to help you and make your project easy and enjoyable for you.
I have performed premieres of commissioned music or music dedicated to me by Christchurch Composers including Salina Fisher, Alex van den Broek, John Emeleus and Melbourne artist Nathaniel Provis. Chas Williams wanted violin backing for his songs and we created the soundscape he liked. Craig Smith asked for a string backing for the cover of his 45 South album. And the Art of Recovery film crew needed a string trio for their music score. Kerry wished for a string trio at her wedding, and John desired to restart violin lessons as an adult, remembering his childhood love for it.
What is your dream? Let's go places!