ZOE CONWAY BIOGRAPHY
- one of Ireland's most gifted young musicians."
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."
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.
"While most people can only idly imagine what
it would be like to be the best
"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."
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."
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"
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.
"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."
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
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."
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 Magazine.
"We had come expectant, and we left bedazzled."
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
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,