Zoe Conway (Biography courtesy of the Artist's site, 2006)
ďVirtuoso Ė one of Irelandís most gifted young musiciansĒ _The Irish Independent
Irish fiddle player, ZoŽ Conway, is a prodigious talent, equally at home in both traditional and classical styles. From an early age she was surrounded by music as her brothers and sisters all played, and after learning the tin-whistle, banjo and piano, she began playing traditional fiddle. At the age of nine, she graduated onto classical violin, but was already far behind others of the same age, as most start from the tender age of three! However, with the help of a local teacher, she quickly caught up and by the age of thirteen was studying such challenging pieces as the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. In Ireland, the classical and traditional music worlds rarely mix, but by her mid-teens, ZoŽ was competing and winning in both the classical feiseanna, and the traditional All Ireland competitions.
ďZoŽ has a unique ability to switch, chameleon-like from one style to the next.Ē_Sunday Independent
ZoŽ was still in her early teens when she realised she had a natural flair for composition. She began composing in an Irish traditional style, and her body of work soon grew to over seventy pieces. More recently she has branched out into other styles of music, principally classical. Many of her own compositions are featured on her two solo albums, ZoŽ Conway and The Horseís Tail and as a result, she now has her own publishing company, ZoŽ Music Limited.
ZoŽ attended the Dun Lughaidh school in Dundalk, a school long associated with music. She was the leader of the orchestra there for four years, the Cross Border Orchestra, and also played with both the Junior and Senior Youth Orchestras of Ireland. She received a Diploma in Theory of Music from the Dublin Conservatory of Music and Drama, and also acquired the highest mark in Grade 8 violin in 2001. ZoŽ went on to achieve a high distinction in Performance Diploma in 2003 with the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. She studied under renowned violin teacher, Maeve Broderick, for many years.
ďWhile most people can only idly imagine what it would be like to be the best in the country at what they do, ZoŽ can already taste it.Ē_Sunday Independent
ZoŽ has gone from playing in orchestras to soloing with them. 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 concerto for two violins and chamber orchestra was written especially with ZoŽís unique mastery in mind, as it combines both the classical and traditional styles.
ďThe eveningís greatest discovery was ZoŽ Conway, an Irish fiddler with a burnished tone and a commanding technique. Her elegant, polished and straightforward reading captured ĎInishlackení in all its primitive charm.Ē_John Pitcher - The Washington Post
She went on to tour with the Irish Chamber Orchestra (ICO) in their Winter Tour 2000, and continues to perform regularly with them. She was delighted to perform with the ICO in April 2004 in Brussels at a special concert to mark Irelandís presidency of the EU. Her most prestigious concert with them was in none other than Carnegie Hall in March 2005, where she performed the world premier of Carna, a concerto for violin, singer and dancer which was also composed by Bill Whelan. In December 2005, he completed the series entitled Postcards from Connemara with a final piece called Errisbeg for violin, harp and chamber orchestra. The three works were performed together for the first time at the University of Limerick Concert Hall, with ZoŽ soloing in all three! These three concertos have since been recorded and are due for release in December 2006.
ďZoŽ Conway - the budding genius.Ē_The Irish Times
In 2002, ZoŽ toured as a soloist with the renowned chamber orchestra, Il Gardino Armonico. This Italian orchestra specialises in Early music and Baroque music, playing original Baroque period instruments. They toured in France, playing an eclectic mix of Vivaldi and Baroque chamber music with OíCarolan and Irish traditional dance music. These concerts were repeated in October 2005 at a festival in Cologne in Germany, and again as part of the LíOrient Festival in August 2006 in France. This unique music is featured on a CD titled O Stravaganza.
ďZoŽ Conwayís star is in the ascendantĒ _The Irish Times
ZoŽ has performed as guest soloist with the RTE Concert Orchestra on numerous occasions. She was invited to perform in their Music For Fun concert, conducted by Gareth Hudson, and also for their New Yearís Eve concert, conducted by Proinnsias O Duinn, both held in the National Concert Hall. In October 2002, ZoŽ had the honour of being guest soloist at the opening concert of the new concert hall in DCU, The Helix. The performance was presented by Gay Byrne, was broadcast nationwide on RTE, and the guest of honour was President McAleese. ZoŽ was then invited to perform for the first anniversary of The Helix in 2003, this time as guest soloist with the National Symphonia Orchestra of Ireland. In 2004, she performed with the RTE Concert Orchestra as part of the annual NCH Beo Festival for St. Patrickís Day and other performers included Sharon Shannon and Donal Lunny. ZoŽ was also invited to perform as soloist with the Ulster Orchestra at the prestigious BBC Proms which was broadcast live across Ireland and the UK. In January 2005, ZoŽ was delighted to appear as guest soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra of Galicia in Spain, which was also broadcast across Spain.
ZoŽ has performed as guest soloist with the RTE Concert Orchestra on numerous occasions. She was invited to perform in their Music For Fun concert, conducted by Gareth Hudson, and also for their New Yearís Eve concert, conducted by Proinnsias O Duinn, both held in the National Concert Hall. In October 2002, ZoŽ had the honour of being guest soloist at the opening concert of the new concert hall in DCU, The Helix. The performance was presented by Gay Byrne, was broadcast nationwide on RTE, and the guest of honour was President McAleese. ZoŽ was then invited to perform for the first anniversary of The Helix in 2003, this time as guest soloist with the National Symphonia Orchestra of Ireland. Her most recent performance with the RTE Concert Orchestra was in March 2004 in the National Concert Hall. The concert was part of the annual Beo Festival for St. Patrickís Day and other performers included Sharon Shannon and Donal Lunny. ZoŽ was also invited to perform as soloist with the Ulster Orchestra at the prestigious BBC Proms which was broadcast live across Ireland and the UK. In January 2005, ZoŽ was delighted to appear as guest soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra of Galicia in Spain.
In July 2000 ZoŽ appeared on RTE televisionís The Gay Byrne Music Show. Gaybo had seen ZoŽ playing at a jazz concert in the National Concert Hall.
ďShe did a swinging version of Chicago which was incredible. She brought the bloody house down. I said thatís one girl I want for the TV series.Ē_Gay Byrne - RTE
She has since frequently appeared on the Late Late Show hosted by Pat Kenny, and has been involved in numerous television productions. As a result of teaching at the annual Willie Clancy Summer School in Co. Clare, she was interviewed for a documentary about the prestigious festival, along with Martin Hayes.
ďAn exceptional young fiddle player with a glittering future.Ē_Irish Dancing Magazine
ZoŽ was invited to perform in the New York Stock Exchange for the Ringing of the Bell marking the start of the trading year in both 2000 and again in 2001. The ceremony was broadcast live all over the world. She has performed for President Mary Robinson, Queen Sonja of Norway, and was invited to perform for H.E. Chinese Premier, Zhu Rongji, at a concert hosted by Sile De Valera TD in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, and again at a state banquet in Dublin Castle, given in his honour by An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern. In September 2002 she had the honour of accompanying President McAleese on her two week State visit to Malaysia and Thailand.
ďShe balances technical virtuosity with an emotional maturity. Spellbinding. Heart-stopping.Ē_Siobhan Long, The Irish Times.
ZoŽ has performed with Riverdance on Broadway, has toured worldwide with the Riverdance Flying Squad, and in the summer of 2004 completed the most successful show ever to be held in the Gaiety, a residency with Riverdance. She repeated this residency in 2005 and again in 2006. She is a holder of the All-Ireland Senior Fiddle Champion title, winning the prestigious competition in Listowel in August 2001 at the tender age of nineteen. The title is much coveted, with previous winners including Martin Hayes and Eileen Ivers. ZoŽ was honoured to be featured as Artist of the Week on RTEís Lyric FM, and in 2005, was delighted to be voted Best Traditional Female of the Year in Irish Music Magazine.
ďWe had come expectant, and we left bedazzled.Ē_Irish Music Magazine
ZoŽ has toured extensively with the international act, guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriella. She has recorded two albums with them to date, Re-Foc and Live in Manchester and Dublin. The albums feature ZoŽ playing a mixture of Latin jazz and trad on the fiddle, and she also features as a vocalist. The trio played at Irelandís Witnness festival in 2002 and then at the renowned Glastonbury festival in 2003, and have also played to sellout audiences in all the leading venues in Ireland including The Gaiety, The Olympia, Christchurch Cathedral, The Ambassador and Cork Opera House. ZoŽ has also appeared with other mainstream acts including Damien Rice, Brian Kennedy, Mundy, The Revs, The Stunning, and has been invited to perform alongside Nick Cave, Lou Reed, Jarvis Cocker, Gavin Friday and Beth Orton among others, in the Point Theatre in October 2006 for the Leonard Cohen Concert - Came So Far For Beauty.
ďIt was the star of the show ZoŽ Conway that really blew us away. Her energetic, dexterous playing, combined with a lighthouse smile, won hearts from the moment she stepped out on the stage.Ē _The Evening Herald
ZoŽ has recorded two solo albums to date. The first, simply titled ZoŽ Conway, was released in 2002 to critical acclaim. It was produced by Bill Whelan and received second place in the Irish Times top five releases of the year. Her second solo album, The Horseís Tail is due for release in October 2006. This album is quite a change from her debut album as it was recorded as naturally as possible, without using modern-day techniques such as overdubbing and click tracks. The musicians all played live in the one room at the same time, and the result is an organic sound which harks back to old LP recordings and captures the raw energy of Irish traditional music. The CD contains a mixture of ZoŽís original compositions alongside older traditional tunes, and also features two songs, one in Irish and one in English. ZoŽ is currently working on a live DVD which is due for release later in the year.
ďZoŽ attacked her instrument with lightning strikes. It was, without a doubt, _a masterclass in musicianship. Every note, precise._Every stroke, with absolute conviction. Bravo.Ē_Irish Music Magazine
She has worked closely with Bill Whelan, the composer of Riverdance, over the past three years. She recorded on the Riverdance CD for the Broadway show, and also recorded Inishlacken with the Irish Chamber Orchestra. Her debut album is produced by Whelan, and was recorded mostly in his studio in Roundstone, Co. Galway. The album showcases many of ZoŽ's original compositions as well as old traditional tunes. There is also a rare chance to hear Zoe sing accompanied by Bill Whelan on keyboards and the Irish Film Orchestra. Donal Lunny and Micheal O Domhnaill are just some of the musicians featured on the album. It is titled simply 'ZoŽ Conway', and is available nationwide now!
You can listen to short samples from some of the tracks from this artist using the player below.
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