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
"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."
Siobhán Long - The Irish Times
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
Conway Live - DVD
Mairir i Bhfad _ Long Life to You - With John McIntyre
(see review below).
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 min
"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