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Cathy Irons

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.

The Guardian

"..sonic fireworks that dazzled with all their brilliance....”


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