A Question of Taste: Róisín Maher, co-founder Finding a Voice concert

Róisín Maher is from Clonmel, Co Tipperary, and is the artistic director and co-founder (with her sister Clíona) of the Finding a Voice concert series in Clonmel on March 6-8.

A Question of Taste: Róisín Maher, co-founder Finding a Voice concert

Róisín Maher is from Clonmel, Co Tipperary, and is the artistic director and co-founder (with her sister Clíona) of the Finding a Voice concert series in Clonmel on March 6–8.

Róisín lives in West Cork and lectures at CIT Cork School of Music. findingavoice.ie

Best recent book you’ve read:

Sally Rooney’s Normal People.

Best recent film you’ve seen:

I really loved Little Women and thought Saoirse Ronan was amazing.

Best recent show you’ve seen:

The RTÉ ConTempo Quartet playing in the National Concert Hall back in November as part of Resound, their series of music by women composers.

One of the pieces from that concert, the Fanny Mendelssohn String Quartet is going to be on their programme in Clonmel next month and I’m really looking forward to hearing it again!

Best piece of music you’ve been listening to lately (new or old):

I’m listening to lots of Mary Lou Williams at the moment ahead of the CSM Jazz Big Band concert at Finding a Voice — she was this amazing jazz performer and composer who played with people like Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman.

First ever piece of music or show that really moved you:

The first time I ever went to an opera, I was 18 and staying in Italy with a friend of my mum’s and she brought me to La Scala in Milan to see Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro — it was incredible and I’ve never forgotten it.

Your favourite gig from previous Finding A Voice events:

I adored the Irish Baroque Orchestra’s concert last year — it really blew me away! They are such incredible musicians and they really bring the music of this period to life.

Tell us about your TV viewing:

I’m really enjoying the RTÉ HerStory series at the moment which is shining a light on forgotten women in Ireland’s history.

But I also love Derry Girls and The Young Offenders.

Radio listening and/or podcasts:

I listen to Lyric FM a lot and also love BBC Radio 3’s podcasts. And I’m a bit of a current affairs junkie so I have to tune in to Matt Cooper on Today FM every afternoon for my daily fix.

Your best celebrity encounter:

I met Princess Diana years ago when I was singing with the London Symphony Chorus.

Herself and Charles were patrons of the choir at the time and there was a reception after one of the concerts.

A group of us were busy knocking back the free wine when she appeared beside us saying, ‘You all look like you’re having fun’.

She stayed chatting to us for a few minutes before someone came to take her away so she could talk to more important people.

She was lovely and incredibly beautiful — we were all completely star-struck.

You can portal back to any period of human cultural history or music event?

I’d love to have seen the composer and suffragette Ethel Smyth conducting her piece ‘March of the Women’, with a toothbrush from her prison cell in Holloway Prison in 1912.

You are curating your dream festival — which three artists are on the bill?

Clonmel-born violinist Maud MacCarthy, who appeared as a soloist with the Chicago and Boston Symphony Orchestras in the early 20th century.

Also Irish conductor extraordinaire Eimear Noone with a programme of film and videogame music by women composers. And finally Laurie Anderson — just because!

Do you have any interesting ancestors or family?

According to family legend, we are related on my mum’s side to the Swedish royal family!

My mum was a Cleary from Old Parish in Co Waterford and we think there is a connection to Désirée Clary who was engaged for a time to Napoleon Bonaparte and later went on to become the queen of Sweden and Norway.

I don’t know if it’s true but I’d like to think it is!

And on my dad’s side, my grandfather James Maher was involved in the early days of the GAA and there’s a stand in Semple Stadium named after him.

You are queen of the music world — what’s your first decree?

I would have to insist on including more women musicians and composers — whether it be concert programmes, exam syllabi or festival line-ups!

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