Soprano Moynihan tackles Vivaldi cantatas

Cork-born soprano Deirdre Moynihan has an enviable CV, and is now releasing her first CD — a selection of Vivaldi cantatas on the classical Naxos label.

Soprano Moynihan tackles Vivaldi cantatas

The acclaimed baroque soloist’s recent concert performances have included a guest appearance with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra at the National Concert Hall, for their programme of Christmas classics, and an intimate performance of Christmas favourites at Dublin Castle.

Last autumn, she sang the voice of the doll for the premiere of Raymond Deane’s opera, The Alma Fetish, with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra at the National Concert Hall, and premiered a new work, A State of Light, by Bill Whelan/Michael Cody, for string quartet and soprano at The Clifden Arts Festival.

Moynihan has sung with Resurgam and with the early music ensemble, Atalante, while her Irish tour, ‘Hidden Handel’, with the Irish Baroque Orchestra Chamber Soloists, was enthusiastically received. The first Irish language song cycle, Fuil is Uisce, or Blood and Water, was written for Moynihan and guitarist, Alec O’Leary, by composer, Ian Wilson, and premiered by them at the National Concert Hall. She also tours constantly, as far as Japan. In March, she sings the ‘Boccherini Stabat Mater’ at Cork School of Music.

Vivaldi’s beautiful chamber songs for solo voice have hitherto been little known, perhaps because of his productivity (he wrote 500 instrumental concertos), but that is about to change with Moynihan’s superb renderings. To hear that fresh, clear voice interpreting Vivaldi’s incredibly expressive vocal writing, lilting with deceptive ease through his dance-like rhythms, is to discover rare listening pleasure.

Why did Deirdre choose these pieces for her debut CD? “I was fortunate enough to receive a bursary from the Arts Council to study the music of Vivaldi, and especially his cantatas. Once I got into them, I was surprised to find they are rarely performed and rarely recorded. I thought that was amazing, because they are so beautiful, so full of excitement and melody.” Her delight in each is evident on the CD.

Growing up in Bishopstown, Deirdre came from a musical family. “My mum and dad encouraged music with all of us, so that was a great environment in which to develop.” Moynihan is one of a hugely talented group of siblings: two flautists, a guitarist, a pianist, a fiddle player. “I’m third youngest. I studied violin and piano at Cork School of Music first.”

Then, she moved into training for classical singing. “I was singing in various groups and bands with family and others, folk and traditional, and then, one day, we were recording in a studio and when I listened back to the first take, I was slightly disappointed. The sound engineer said, ‘You know, singing is like any other instrument, you need to work at it and practice. People think they can just open their mouths and sing, but you need to learn’.”

“I went to Robert Beare, at the CSM, and he asked why I wanted to take singing lessons, and I said it was because I wanted to be a better singer, but I definitely didn’t want to do classical singing. He looked amused and said ‘We’ll see.’ He obviously knew a little more than I did about what was to come.”

Beare, she says, was great at encouraging her to push the boundaries and try new things. “I identified with early music very quickly. Different voices seek different types of repertoire and that was right for me.”

* Deirdre Moynihan’s recording of Vivaldi cantatas is available on the Naxos label. Signed copies available from the website,

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