Cathy Irons

violinist: performer and teacher


In brief

Cathy Irons played in the Kwa-Zulu Natal Philharmonic Orchestra in South Africa before immigrating to Christchurch in 1997. She is currently a first violinist and the Community Engagement Project Leader for the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra. She has broadcast on South African Radio and TV, Radio NZ Concert, Plains FM and CTV and regularly performs recitals and chamber music concerts throughout NZ.

Another string to her bow, is her cross-over jazz playing in her group, The Classical Jazz Quartet which played for the NZ Jazz and Blues Festival.

Q & A

More about Cathy....


As a promising teenage pianist in South Africa, Cathy recorded and broadcast regularly for the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and was invited to record several times on television. She also sang for the Pope, the late John Paul II in Rome while on tour with the Natal Youth Choir.

However, at the University of Natal, she began concentrating more on the violin and graduated with a distinction for her Bachelor of Music (4 years) specializing in Orchestral Performance.

She was awarded an AMI Professional Development Fund to study with Wilma Smith, Michael Dauth and Keith Crellin in Australia. She has participated in masterclasses with Shlomo Mintz, Sergey Malov and Anthony Marwood.

Orchestras and Concertos

During her studies, and subsequently, she played with the Kwa-Zulu Natal Philharmonic Orchestra. Cathy immigrated to Christchurch in 1997 where she is a first violinist with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra (CSO). She has acted concertmaster for both the Vector Wellington Sinfonia and CSO. She currently leads the Jubilate Chamber Orchestra.

She  has performed concertos with the Durban City Orchestra, Kwa-Zulu Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, Nelson Symphony Orchestra, Central Otago Regional Orchestra, Resonance Ensemble, Christchurch Youth Orchestra and Viva.

Chamber Music

In 2014 and 2016, she performed with violinist and violist Dr Joanna Drimatis at Sydney Conservatorium, presenting works by NZ and Australian composers including 3 world premieres and 3 Australian premieres.

She formed the string trio, Tres Cordes which toured nationally for Chamber Music NZ and produced the CD String Trio Sapphires.

Education Work

Cathy tours South Island regularly giving talks at high schools and retirement homes, violin demonstrations and lessons, composition and arranging workshops and orchestral sectionals. She performs and gives feedback to young composers at the Composer Workshops held at Nelson each year. She has a small private teaching core of students in Christchurch.

Cathy is the Community Engagement Project Leader for the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.

Classical Jazz

Another string to her bow, is Cathy's jazz playing in the ensemble, The Classical Jazz Quartet. This group performs an eclectic mixture of classic and jazz standards to dazzle. They performed in the NZ Jazz and Blues Festival and have released their CD Classical Jazz Quartet.

Composing and Arranging

Cathy composed music for the professional production The Cherry Orchard in South Africa, arranged music for Craig Smith's CD 45 South and the Westland Arts Festival, and regularly arranges music for the touring Community Engagement Programme ensembles in the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra. Her original composition, Perky the Pukeko has been enthusiastically enjoyed by hundreds of primary school children and was performed by the Resonance Ensemble in the Christchurch KidsFest 2015 and in Rangiora in 2016.

Snapshots and Thoughts

Photo: Cathy Irons in recital with Flavio Villani
"In 2015, I had the privilege of performing on Michael Hill's personal violin, Giovanni Battista Guadagnini, 1755, named 'The Southern Star' in its first NZ public recital. An incredible experience I will never forget!"

Photo: Cathy playing for Jolt Dance at the Body Festival

"Children respond so readily to music. Playing for Jolt Dance gave me insight into the boundless imagination of children, expressed freely through their dance and movement."

Photo: Cathy responding to "creative conducting"
"We can connect with others through music. It is an exciting moment for each of us when one discovers the pleasure of playing, responding or listening to music."