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Sligo International Chamber Music Festival

Cassiopeia Winds

Catriona Ryan (flute)
Matthew Manning (oboe)
Deirdre O’Leary (clarinet)
John Hearne (bassoon)
Cormac O’hAodain (french horn)

Cassiopeia Winds

Cassiopeia Winds is an Irish chamber wind ensemble formed in 2010, whose performances are marked by vivacity, panache and a dedication to the exploration of fine sound-worlds. Though the ensemble has the capacity to expand or contract to suit its innovative programming, at its core is a quintet of players whose members are among the finest in the country, including players from the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, RTÉ Concert Orchestra and the Crash Ensemble.

The ensemble aims with each performance to run the full and varied gamut of the wind repertoire from 19th-century to contemporary works, including Danzi, Reicha, Barber, Hindemith, Poulenc, Francaix, Ibert, Nielsen, Ligeti and Arvo Part. Their concerts represent the startling originality and exoticism, and the inimitable palette of tone colours of the wind ensemble. They have a dedication to bringing the lesser-known works of this repertoire into the Irish and international concert halls and festivals. 

The ensemble also has a great interest in contemporary music and in supporting the work of new Irish composers, and intend to commission new works for wind quintet for performance in Ireland and internationally. The Quintet gave the first performance of a new work by Sean O’Callaghan in 2014 and have commissioned a new work from John Buckley which received its premier at a Contemporary Music Centre Salon in October 2015 followed by five performances on tour around Ireland in the autumn/winter of 2015/16.

Cassiopeia Winds has a passion for collaborating with other artists, such as renowned pianist Finghin Collins. Recent concerts include a weekend of performances at the Galway Midwinter Festival where they collaborated with the ConTempo Quartet, and a weekend of concerts as part of the 2014 New Ross Piano Festival. In New Ross the players collaborated with three of the distinguished pianists at the Festival; Finghin Collins, Melvin Tan and Lise de la Salle. In 2015 the quintet was invited to take part in the Joan Trimble Centenary Celebration in Fermanagh and completed a very successful tour of Ireland supported by the Arts Council.

Cassiopeia Winds are:

Catriona Ryan studied flute as a scholarship student with Doris Keogh at the Royal Irish Academy of Music and later at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. During her college years she was engaged by various orchestras including the BBC Philharmonic, Manchester Camerata, Northern Sinfonia and Hallé Orchestras. She joined the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra in 1993 as Sub-Principal Flute & Piccolo, and in 2006 she won the appointment of Flute Section Leader, a position she continues to hold and enjoy to this day. Catriona has played with many ensembles including the Irish Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Cecilia, and the Irish Film Orchestra. An enthusiastic chamber musician and soloist, she has also collaborated with the Grammy-nominated Friday-Seezer Ensemble on a CD and book of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf with illustrations by Bono, with all proceeds going to The Irish Hospice Foundation.

Matthew Manning was Principal Oboe in the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) for 21 years before leaving to pursue a freelance career. He recently returned to his former position as Principal Oboe with the NSO He has played with the Irish Chamber Orchestra, The Orchestra of St Cecilia, the Irish Film Orchestra, the Wexford Festival Orchestra, and the Scottish National Orchestra. His work ranges from education workshops in County Mayo and the National Youth Orchestra to commercial recordings and concerts with 'The Doors' and 'Bill Bailey's Amazing Guide to the Orchestra'!... He teaches oboe in the Royal Irish Academy of Music and the Cork School of Music. His solo CD 'Silver River' features the music of Michael McGlynn and is available on

Deirdre O'Leary is a freelance clarinettist from Dublin. She has been a member of the Crash Ensemble since 2003 and has travelled to Australia and the USA with them and played at the iconic Bang on a Can Marathon. Deirdre is a founder member of Prey, a wind trio which has performed regularly around Ireland since 2001. Prey travelled to Norway in 2009 to perform their show Metamorphoses at the Stamsund International Theatre Festival. She has also played regularly with the Irish Chamber Orchestra, the Wexford Opera Festival Orchestra and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland. Deirdre is very interested in world music and improvising; she currently listens to other people playing klezmer and other funky world music more than they listen to her, but she's working on changing that. Deirdre lives in Cloughjordan with her husband and two daughters where they are building a cob house.

John Hearne completed his studies on the bassoon at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, and at the Scuola Musicale di Milano. Since returning to Dublin in 2001, John has worked with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the Irish Chamber Orchestra, the Orchestra of St. Cecilia, Opera Theatre Company, the Castleward Opera orchestra and various other ensembles. He has performed and recorded with a number of artists including singer/songwriter Julie Feeney, featuring on her album "Pages". A keen chamber musician, John also teaches the bassoon at the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama.

Cormac O hAodáin was born in Dublin in 1971. He studied horn with Victor Malirsh at the Royal Irish Academy of Music and continued his studies at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London. Cormac has been a member of both the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Philharmonia Orchestra in London and is now Section Leader/Principal French Horn of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra.