ZoŽ Conway is one of Ireland's most gifted young musicians. Born
in Dundalk, Co. Louth, in 1981, she began playing the violin at
the age of eight. The outstanding feature of ZoŽ's playing is her
ability to straddle different disciplines: classical, jazz, bluegrass
and especially traditional Irish music.
"Hang on to yer britches: there's a hurricane
a brewin'. Newcomers come and go, but few hurtle centre stage with
the grace and panache of young Louth fiddler Zoë Conway. Her
Debut is, betimes, haughty, mournful, festive - and invariably challenging.
Conway inhabits her fiddle with the comfort and wisdom of a player
of far greater years. Her self-penned slow air, 'Anachain Tuireann',
with all it gorgeous funereal tone and depth, would warrant a decompression
chamber if it weren't for its buoyant companions, 'The Tilly Lamp'
and 'Millennium Eve'. She balances technical virtuosity with emotional
maturity, both shimmying in the reflective light of the Appalachian-tinted
'The Pizzicato Waltz'. Even her vocals on 'Táimse Im' Chodladh'
are spellbinding. Heart Stopping."
ZoŽ's debut album 'ZoŽ Conway' (TARACD 4012)
was produced by Riverdance composer Bill Whelan and was released on
6th September 2002. It features such musicians as Donal Lunny and
Micheal O'Domhnaill. ZoŽ performed at Whelans 9th September 2002 to
launch the album (see review below).
Siobhán Long - The Irish Times
played in the Junior and Senior Youth Orchestras of Ireland and
The Dublin Conservatory of Music and Drama Senior Orchestra. She
was also leader of the Cross-Border Orchestra for three years, under
the baton of Gearoid Grant. She has performed for President Mary
Robinson, President Mary MacAleese, An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Queen
Sonja of Norway, and was invited to perform at the state banquet
in Dublin Castle for the visit of the Chinese Premier.
In May 2000 ZoŽ was guest soloist with the Irish Chamber
Orchestra at the world premier of "Inishlacken", composed by Bill
Whelan, in the Kennedy Center, Washington. "The evening's greatest
discovery was ZoŽ Conway, an 18-year-old 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
Zoe Conway "Zoe Conway" Playing time: 48.25
"A musician in possession of far more talent than her age would
suggest, Zoe Conway is a fiddler from Co. Louth, with performances
in Riverdance, with the RTE Concert Orchestra and others of such
calibre under her belt, not to mention the All Ireland Senior Fiddle
title of 2001. It was with more than a little anticipation then
that this, her debut album, was met. Given that production was under
the guidance of Mr Riverdance himself, Bill Whelan, this album should
be top-notch stuff. As indeed it is. Zoe certainly does not disappoint.
She is a fine player, with a clean, precise style that still manages
to exude warmth and richness of tone. She absolutely radiates confidence,
virtuosity and enthusiasm on tracks such as "The Pizzicato Waltz/The
Hangman's Reel", while "The Fiddler's Hickey/The Green Cottage/Island
Wedding Polka" sees her backed up by a wonderful ensemble including
accordion, bass and cajon. Zoe really performs within this setting:
she is a wonderful ensemble player and you can almost visualise
her letting her hair down and really getting stuck in. She also
tries her hand at singing, with a version of "Taimse Im' Chodladh".
Her voice is remarkably pure, almost childlike in essence, although
possibly not to everyone's taste. But the result is charming, and
extremely endearing. A very worthy debut, which should, without
question, prove to be a springboard to greater heights."
Jennifer Byrne - Folkworld
Native du comté Louth au nord-est de l'Irlande,
ZoŽ Conway n'a que 21 ans et elle est déjà repérée
comme une des musiciennes les plus douées de sa génération,
Ayant débuté l'étude du violon classique à
l'âge de 8 ans, elle se révèle aussi habile
à interpréter du classique, du jazz, du bluegrass
et tout naturellement de la musique traditionnelle irlandaise.
Pour situer un peu plus le personnage, il n'est pas inutile de signaler
qu'elle a également joué en soliste au sein de l'Orchestra
de la RTÉ (TV irlandaise), de l'Orchestra national d'Irlande
et enfin qu'elle a accompagné Riverdance. Excusez du peu!
Ces états de service ont conduit le compositeur Bill Whelan
(auteur notamment de Riverdance) à produire le premier album
de ZoŽ. Une telle prodige n'a donc eu aucun mal à rassembler
autour d'elle le gratin de la scène irlandaise, à
savoir Dónal Lunny, Micheál O'Dómhnaill, Declan
Masterson ou Mick Broderick, pour n'en citer que quelques-unes.
L'album qui comporte 30 morceaux fait la part belle aux compositions
de la jeune ZoŽ qui signe là pas moins de treize d'entre
eux. Et comme si sa brillance au fiddle ne suffisait pas, elle est
dotée d'une voix magnifique qu'elle donne à entendre
sur une chanson en gaélique ' Taimse Im' Chodladh'. Dommage
qu'il n'y en ait qu'une seule. Reels, jigs, polkas, valses, se succèdent
à un rythme enlevé.
Un album à marquer d'une pierre blanche par une artiste bourrée
Philippe COUSIN - le peuple breton
Over the years ZoŽ has performed as guest soloist
with the RTE Concert Orchestra in their Music For Fun concert, and
was also invited to perform for their New Year's Eve concert, both
held in the National Concert Hall. She has also performed with Riverdance
on Broadway, and has toured with Riverdance in Ireland, Europe and
the United States.
In August 2001 ZoŽ won the prestigious All-Ireland
Senior Fiddle Champion, in Listowel, Co Kerry.
"Proof if ever it were needed, that ZoŽ
Conway's star is in the ascendant, was there by the bucket load
on Monday night in Whelans. Launching her eponymous debut CD, Conway
wielded her fiddle with the grace and panache of a musician who
knows only too well that the instrument shares the limelight with
the player. And the packed house knew that too.
They may have heard her shimmy with Riverdance, or seen her cosying
up inside the welcoming arms of her earlier band, Dal Riada. They
may even have made her acquaintance at the National Concert Hall
where she's best known to be a guest with the Irish Chamber Orchestra,
or caught her practising in the eaves before she won the All Ireland
Senior Fiddle Championship last year.
Conway tackles slow airs, jigs and reels with the same agility and
nonchalance that she does hornpipes and songs.
Easing her audience into the set with a gorgeous solo run on the
reel, 'Butter And Peas', she let us be privy to the fiddle's gorgeously
earthy tones, casting multiple shades across the set's flighty path.
She ambles down Appalachian trails with the same familiarity she
does Louth and Donegal bothareens, peppering her set with the buoyant
'Pizzicato Waltz' and 'The Hangman's Reel', borrowed from the playing
Scottish fiddler Aly Bain.
Conway keeps the best of company as she travels through a prolific
original repertoire that'd be the envy of even her own producer
and guest keyboardist Bill Whelan. With Robbie Harris on bodhran
and sundry other percussion instruments, she duelled gallantly,
introducing the tradition to the kind of polyrhythms that, in the
wrong hands, would be sent into a tailspin of confusion.
In her capable charge, Conway ensured safe flight to 'The Fiddler's
Hickey', 'The Cross of Savannah' and the Carolan-flavoured 'The
One That Got Away'.
Dennis Higgins's bouzouki and Fionan de Barra's guitar acted as
joint backbones to the set, corseting and cosseting in all the right
places, while guest, Eilis Egan, added gorgeously subtle box playing
and Ronan Ryan belatedly added his flute to the mix.
A magnificent session that will whet the appetites of any self-respecting
music buff to sample more of Conway's repertoire."
Siobhan Long - The Irish Times - Sept. 02