A question of taste: Sinéad O’Halloran

Sinéad O’Halloran is a 22-year-old cellist from Blackrock, Cork. She is the co-founder and artistic director of the Ortús Chamber Music Festival, which is taking place in Midleton, Cork city and Cobh this weekend. She is currently based in Düsseldorf where she is studying for her Bachelor of Music.

A question of taste: Sinéad O’Halloran

Best recent book you’ve read: I keep on coming back to The Time Travellers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.

Best recent film: The Theory of Everything.

Best concert you’ve seen over the past year: An incredible chamber music concert in the Beethovenhaus in Bonn last month where my best friend and co-founder of Ortús, Mairéad Hickey, was performing with renowned violist Tabea Zimmerman and some of her colleagues from the Kronberg Academy. They performed works by Schönberg, Mendelssohn and Strauss and the music-making was just extraordinary. They also looked like they were having so much fun which made it even more enjoyable for the audience.

Best piece of music you’ve been listening to lately (new or old): Schubert Quintet in C major for String Quintet (it has always been one of my all time favourites and I am so excited to perform it at our final concert this Sunday afternoon).

First ever piece of music that really moved you: Beethoven String Quartet op. 132 performed by the Vanbrugh Quartet at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival — they moved me to tears.

The best concert you’ve ever seen: I recently witnessed an outstanding performance of Brückner Symphony no. 7 by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Bernard Haitink (now 87 years old). I had the pleasure of playing this work under him during the summer and it was wonderful to be able to experience it all again.

Tell us about your TV viewing: Gilmore Girls, Netflix documentaries (The Beginning of Life), Friends, New Girl, etc.

Radio listening and/or podcasts: RTÉ Lyric fm, 1Live (Germany), podcasts on Mindfulness Meditations.

You’re curating your dream festival — what three artists are on the bill, living or dead? Jacqueline Du Pré, Lorenza Borrani and Mitsuko Uchida.

Money is no object — what instrument would you buy? I would love to have the money to buy the instrument which I am playing right now! I have very kindly been loaned a beautiful 1775 Niklaus Gagliano cello which I absolutely adore. Sadly, I must return it at the end of my studies.

You can portal back to any period of human cultural history or music event — where, when, and why? Robert Schumann is one of my favorite composers. It is believed that Schumann wrote five romances for cello and piano near the end of his life, which were unfortunately destroyed by his wife, Clara Schumann, for fear that they would prove his insanity (he entered a mental asylum in 1854). I wish I could go back and save these pieces, and any others which were lost over the years!

Your best celebrity encounter: I have worked with some amazing conductors with the European Union Youth Orchestra, including Vladimir Ashkenazy, Bernard Haitink, Gianandrea Noseda.

Unsung heroes — individual or organisation you think don’t get the profile/praise they deserve: I think all of the people who work ‘behind the scenes’, in every field of life. In music, at least, I feel like it is always the musicians in the limelight who receive all of the praise, however I realise now how much work goes on behind the scenes which are essential to making sure everything runs smoothly!

You are queen for a day — what’s your first decree? I would invest so much more money in education — specifically focusing on mental health and music. I would give every child an instrument and introduce Mindfulness and Alexander Technique into the school curriculum.

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