Katherine Hunka is Leader of the Irish Chamber Orchestra since 2002 and regularly directs from the leader's chair. As director and soloist, with the ICO, she has toured Germany, China and Singapore, and appeared at festivals including the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, and the Kilkenny Arts Festival.

Born in London, she was previously a soloist with the City of London Sinfonia and led the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. In 2020, Katherine released her first solo CD recording with the ICO of Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires and Schubert’s Rondo in A to glowing reviews.

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In the same year, she became Artistic Director of the Killaloe Music Festival, for which she devises programmes to include world-class musicians. She is currently a Lecturer at the MTU Cork School of Music and the Irish World Academy of Music

As part of the National Concert Hall’s Autumn Chamber Music Series, Katherine leads the Solas Quartet in a programme including John Kinsella, Amy Beach and Mendelssohn on Sunday 13th November 2022 - for more details on the series, go here.

We asked Katherine for her choice cultural picks...

FILM

I recently went to the cinema to see An Cailín Ciúin. The rave reviews drew me in, of course, and I have rarely been so moved by a film. It is such a simple story yet delivered in a way that had most people in the cinema, including myself, in tears.

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MUSIC

I am constantly listening to music for work and for pleasure, on the hunt for new musical voices, whether they be composers, instrumentalists or singers. This summer I had the pleasure of meeting Aoife Doyle who recently brought out her album Infinitely Clear. Her songs span many styles, jazz, soul, folk and more. She sings entirely from the heart, which is rare.

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PLAY

I recently went to see Translations by Brian Friel, a co-production by The Abbey Theatre and Lyric Theatre Belfast, currently on tour. The performances were stunning. The multi-layered story set in 1833 is strikingly relevant to our lives today.

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TV

I am a Borgen fan and when the most recent series arrived on Netflix, entitled Borgen - Power & Glory, I watched it fast. I love brave television and this doesn’t shy away from the truths of politics and family life in our times. Also, it is honest about what it is to be a woman in power. I found it very inspiring.

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GIG

In my work I am usually the one doing the gigs, and it is such a treat to go to one. I am a big Imelda May fan and was in heaven at the last gig of hers I caught. Chris Thile is a mandolin player, singer and songwriter and I listen to his albums during car journeys. He performs in Dublin at the NCH this November. He is such a creative artist it is one not to be missed.

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ART

As someone who isn’t a natural when it comes to drawing I am fascinated by those who have an aptitude for it. I spend a lot of time in Cork where I teach at the MTU School of music, and I love the Crawford Gallery. It is a great space to wander around and view their ever-changing collection. Their September exhibition on the history of drawing is called Drawing Room. I will be there.

TECH

During lockdown when the birds were heard in full song a friend told me about ChirpOMatic. The app detects birdsong and tells you which bird, or birds, you can hear. I love playing with the app which reveals a whole bird world out there that I was pretty oblivious to before.

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THE NEXT BIG THING

...has to be the Irish Chamber Orchestra’s September tour that I am directing. I am currently working on the music in a fabulous programme. The Cork composer Paul Frost writes in a jazzy bluesy style and his beautiful new composition will get its world premiere. We are performing a very funky piece of Shostakovich for piano, trumpet and strings as well as Philip Glass’s mesmerising symphony for strings. To those who are put off at the idea of a classical music orchestra, I would say give it a go. We will be taking it to the NCH in Dublin on September 7th, Newport Co. Mayo on September 8th and UCH Limerick on September 9th.

Find out more about the NCH's forthcoming Chamber Music Series here.