A young Wexford woman is one of Ireland's leading female orchestra conductors.
25-year-old Karen Ní Bhroin from Ferns realised at an early age that she wasn't good enough to play clarinet at the highest level and decided to become a conductor.
She was recently appointed Principal Conductor with the Humanitarian Symphony Orchestra (HSO), the first community Orchestra on Dublin's northside, and she also works with the Dublin Orchestral Players in Churchtown, Mt. Anville Choral Society, St. Mary's Brass and Reed Band, Maynooth, Supertones Children's Choir, part of Dun Laoghaire Choral Society. She is Musical Director at Orwell Healthcare, Rathgar, Dublin and teaches at Dublin School of Music, Terenure.
'I knew I wasn't good enough to play at the highest level so decided at 16 years of age to become a conductor. But there are no undergraduate courses in conducting. I attended Trinity College and did a degree in music education,' said Karen.
She could only study conducting privately and followed her dream to attend renowned Sherborne School of Music in Dorset, England, while she also applied to attend workshops in the US, France, Italy and Hungary.
Karen also studied with International conductor, Robert Houlihan, from Kells, Co.Kerry and Irish conductor, David Brophy, formerly Principal Conductor with the RTE Concert Orchestra. During this time she also studied at Blackheath Conservatoire, London under Denise Ham travelling at her own expense every second Friday for a year. The whole process cost her in the region of €30,000.
There are only three female orchestral conductors in Ireland. 'I don't why that is. But as far as I am aware there are only three of us,' said Karen who is sponsored by First Investment Bank, Berlin.
Her advice to young people considering taking up playing music is to 'pick an instrument you love and don't let anybody stop you playing and join a group'.
The HSO is staging a fundraising concert at Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin on Friday, April 15 for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Tickets for the concert are available through www.eventbrite.ie or at the door.