Cathy IronsCathy Irons, violinist

How would you describe your style of music?
Classical – from orchestral playing to chamber music and solo recitals. I enjoy branching out into other spheres too such as working with jazz violinist Fiona Pears or singer Cliff Richard.
What does New Zealand Music Month mean to you?
A time for people to stop for a while, listen to music, select a book and take a little time out from their busy lives to be quiet and refreshed.
Have you written any pieces about Christchurch or Canterbury?
No, but I support and perform music composed by local musicians. Last year I played a composition by Peter Raffensperger fusing rock and classical styles – it was awesome!
Who’s your favourite NZ artist and why?
Diedre Irons. Maybe it's because we share the same surname but mostly its her musical playing – she explores tones and colours on the piano, always sounding fresh and creative.
Cathy Irons performs with Tomas Hurnik at New Brighton Library on May 10 and Bishopdale Library on May 23. View our events calendar for full details.
Her album Inspired: violin masterpieces and favourites is in the library collection.
Tell us a little about your background - your home, your family, non-musical interests and so on…
I grew up in South Africa, starting on piano but taking up the violin at age nine because my best friend did - and I wanted to be like her. It wasn't long before she gave up but somehow the love of the instrument started with me then and has been with me ever since. I continued studying violin at the University of Natal under Jurgen Schwietering and began playing professionally in the the Kwa-Zulu Natal Philharmonic. After immigrating to Christchurch in 1997, I joined the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.
I grew up in a musical environment (my father is an amateur pianist, oboist and trumpeter) but now that I have my own musical children it's my time to support them. We often play together as a family and share the fun, joy and deep satisfaction that music brings. On weekends you can find me digging in my organic vegetable garden or tramping somewhere in Arthur's Pass. New Zealand scenery is breathtaking.
What has been your most unusual playing experience?
My weirdest and most challenging gig was playing the violin for a wedding on a steam train. The coach was wildly swaying and my bow kept inadvertently floating off the string.
What violin do you play on?
I play on a 100-year-old French violin. It is full of repaired cracks but it has personality and a beautiful tone on the lower strings. I bought it in South Africa from a Ukrainian violinist who worked in Israel! Secretly, I would love to play on a New Zealand made violin.
Tell us about your CDs.
I have two CDs which are for available for purchase from me. Inspired is a classical CD with Christchurch pianist Mark Secker featuring Elgar, Poulenc, Kreisler and Tchaikovsky. It is also available from the library. Distant Memories is a more personal CD of easy listening light violin classics. My father, Robin Judd is the pianist, the recording engineer is my brother Alan Judd, and the piano used is my grandmother's restored baby grand. It is a collection of our favourites.
You have given us a piece to put on the website. Tell us about this piece - what it means to you, what you like about it.
It is the last movement of the Poulenc Violin Sonata from my CD, Inspired. Both the piano and violin parts are challenging as they are treated with equal musical expression. I love the contrasts within the piece from fast brilliant playing to other sections which are exquisite, slow and tranquil.

May 2009