"Virtuoso - one of Ireland's most gifted
The Irish Independent
Irish fiddle player, Zoë Conway, is a prodigious
talent, equally at home in both traditional and classical styles.
From an early age she was surrounded by music as her brothers
and sisters all played, and after learning the tin-whistle, banjo
and piano, she began playing traditional fiddle. At the age of
nine, she graduated onto classical violin, but was already far
behind others of the same age, as most start from the tender age
of three! However, with the help of a local teacher, she quickly
caught up and by the age of thirteen was studying such challenging
pieces as the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. In Ireland, the classical
and traditional music worlds rarely mix, but by her mid-teens,
Zoë was competing and winning in both the classical feiseanna,
and the traditional All Ireland competitions.
"Zoë has a unique ability to switch,
chameleon-like from one style to the next."
Zoë was still in her early teens when she realised she had
a natural flair for composition. She began composing in an Irish
traditional style, and her body of work soon grew to over seventy
pieces. More recently she has branched out into other styles of
music, principally classical. Many of her own compositions are
featured on her two solo albums, Zoë Conway and The Horse's
Tail and as a result, she now has her own publishing company,
Zoë Music Limited.
Zoë attended the Dun Lughaidh school in Dundalk, a school
long associated with music. She was the leader of the orchestra
there for four years, the Cross Border Orchestra, and also played
with both the Junior and Senior Youth Orchestras of Ireland. She
received a Diploma in Theory of Music from the Dublin Conservatory
of Music and Drama, and also acquired the highest mark in Grade
8 violin in 2001. Zoë went on to achieve a high distinction
in Performance Diploma in 2003 with the Associated Board of the
Royal Schools of Music. She studied under renowned violin teacher,
Maeve Broderick, for many years.
"While most people can only idly imagine
what it would be like to be the best
in the country at what they do, Zoë can already taste it."
Zoë has gone from playing in orchestras to soloing with them.
In May 2000 Zoë was guest soloist with the Irish Chamber Orchestra
at the world premier of Inishlacken, composed by Bill Whelan, in
the Kennedy Center, Washington. The concerto for two violins and
chamber orchestra was written especially with Zoë's unique
mastery in mind, as it combines both the classical and traditional
"The evening's greatest discovery was
Zoë Conway, an Irish fiddler with a burnished tone and a
commanding technique. Her elegant, polished and straightforward
reading captured 'Inishlacken' in all its primitive charm."
John Pitcher - The Washington Post
She went on to tour with the Irish Chamber Orchestra (ICO) in
their Winter Tour 2000, and continues to perform regularly with
them. She was delighted to perform with the ICO in April 2004
in Brussels at a special concert to mark Ireland's presidency
of the EU. Her most prestigious concert with them was in none
other than Carnegie Hall in March 2005, where she performed the
world premier of Carna, a concerto for violin, singer and dancer
which was also composed by Bill Whelan. In December 2005, he completed
the series entitled Postcards from Connemara with a final piece
called Errisbeg for violin, harp and chamber orchestra. The three
works were performed together for the first time at the University
of Limerick Concert Hall, with Zoë soloing in all three!
These three concertos have since been recorded and are due for
release in 2007.
"Zoë Conway - the budding genius."
The Irish Times
In 2002, Zoë toured as a soloist with the renowned chamber
orchestra, Il Gardino Armonico. This Italian orchestra specialises
in Early music and Baroque music, playing original Baroque period
instruments. They toured in France, playing an eclectic mix of
Vivaldi and Baroque chamber music with O'Carolan and Irish traditional
dance music. These concerts were repeated in October 2005 at a
festival in Cologne in Germany, and again as part of the L'Orient
Festival in August 2006 in France. This unique music is featured
on a CD titled O Stravaganza.
"Zoë Conway's star is in the ascendant"
The Irish Times
Zoë has performed as guest soloist with the RTE Concert
Orchestra on numerous occasions. She was invited to perform in
their Music For Fun concert, conducted by Gareth Hudson, and also
for their New Year's Eve concert, conducted by Proinnsias O Duinn,
both held in the National Concert Hall. In October 2002, Zoë
had the honour of being guest soloist at the opening concert of
the new concert hall in DCU, The Helix. The performance was presented
by Gay Byrne, was broadcast nationwide on RTE, and the guest of
honour was President McAleese. Zoë was then invited to perform
for the first anniversary of The Helix in 2003, this time as guest
soloist with the National Symphonia Orchestra of Ireland. In 2004,
she performed with the RTE Concert Orchestra as part of the annual
NCH Beo Festival for St. Patrick's Day and other performers included
Sharon Shannon and Donal Lunny. Zoë was also invited to perform
as soloist with the Ulster Orchestra at the prestigious BBC Proms
which was broadcast live across Ireland and the UK. In January
2005, Zoë was delighted to appear as guest soloist with the
National Symphony Orchestra of Galicia in Spain, which was also
broadcast across Spain.
In July 2000 Zoë appeared on RTE television's The Gay Byrne
Music Show. Gaybo had seen Zoë playing at a jazz concert
in the National Concert Hall.
"She did a swinging version of Chicago
which was incredible. She brought the bloody house down. I said
that's one girl I want for the TV series."
Gay Byrne - RTE
She has since frequently appeared on the Late Late Show hosted
by Pat Kenny, and has been involved in numerous television productions.
As a result of teaching at the annual Willie Clancy Summer School
in Co. Clare, she was interviewed for a documentary about the
prestigious festival, along with Martin Hayes.
"An exceptional young fiddle player
with a glittering future."
Irish Dancing Magazine
Zoë was invited to perform in the New York Stock Exchange
for the Ringing of the Bell marking the start of the trading year
in both 2000 and again in 2001. The ceremony was broadcast live
all over the world. She has performed for President Mary Robinson,
Queen Sonja of Norway, and was invited to perform for H.E. Chinese
Premier, Zhu Rongji, at a concert hosted by Sile De Valera TD
in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, and again at a state banquet
in Dublin Castle, given in his honour by An Taoiseach, Bertie
Ahern. In September 2002 she had the honour of accompanying President
McAleese on her two week State visit to Malaysia and Thailand.
"She balances technical virtuosity
with an emotional maturity. Spellbinding. Heart-stopping."
Siobhan Long, The Irish Times.
Zoë has performed with Riverdance on Broadway, has toured
worldwide with the Riverdance Flying Squad, and in the summer
of 2004 completed the most successful show ever to be held in
the Gaiety, a residency with Riverdance. She repeated this residency
in 2005 and again in 2006. She is a holder of the All-Ireland
Senior Fiddle Champion title, winning the prestigious competition
in Listowel in August 2001 at the tender age of nineteen. The
title is much coveted, with previous winners including Martin
Hayes and Eileen Ivers. Zoë was honoured to be featured as
Artist of the Week on RTE's Lyric FM, and in 2005, was delighted
to be voted Best Traditional Female of the Year in Irish Music
"We had come expectant, and we left
Irish Music Magazine
Zoë has toured extensively with the international act, guitar
duo Rodrigo y Gabriella. She has recorded two albums with them
to date, Re-Foc and Live in Manchester and Dublin. The albums
feature Zoë playing a mixture of Latin jazz and trad on the
fiddle, and she also features as a vocalist. The trio played at
Ireland's Witnness festival in 2002 and then at the renowned Glastonbury
festival in 2003, and have also played to sellout audiences in
all the leading venues in Ireland including The Gaiety, The Olympia,
Christchurch Cathedral, The Ambassador and Cork Opera House. Zoë
has also appeared with other mainstream acts including Damien
Rice, Brian Kennedy, Mundy, The Revs, The Stunning, and she recently
performed alongside Nick Cave, Lou Reed, Jarvis Cocker, Gavin
Friday and Beth Orton among others, in the Point Theatre in October
2006 for the Leonard Cohen Concert - Came So Far For Beauty.
"It was the star of the show Zoë
Conway that really blew us away. Her energetic, dexterous playing,
combined with a lighthouse smile, won hearts from the moment she
stepped out on the stage."
The Evening Herald
Zoë has recorded two solo albums to date. The first, simply
titled Zoë Conway, was released in 2002 to critical acclaim.
It was produced by Bill Whelan and received second place in the
Irish Times top five releases of the year. Her second solo album,
The Horse's Tail was released in October 2006, and also received
rave reviews. She was commended by critics for recording as naturally
as possible, without using modern-day techniques such as overdubbing
and click tracks. The musicians all played live in the one room
at the same time, and the result is an organic sound which harks
back to old LP recordings and captures the raw energy of Irish
traditional music. The CD contains a mixture of Zoë's original
compositions alongside older traditional tunes, and also features
two songs, one in Irish and one in English. Zoë has recently
releases a live DVD click here
for more details.
"Zoë attacked her instrument with
lightning strikes. It was, without a doubt,
a masterclass in musicianship. Every note, precise.
Every stroke, with absolute conviction. Bravo."
Irish Music Magazine