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katherine hunka


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Born in London, Katherine Hunka began playing the violin at the age of four. Whilst growing up under the guidance of teacher Sheila Nelson, she performed chamber music at London’s South Bank and the Royal Albert hall, was soloist with the City of London Sinfonia and led the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.  Katherine was awarded a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music where she spent five years studying with Gyorgy Pauk, and then furthered her studies in the USA at Indiana University where she also acted as teaching assistant to her professor, Mauricio Fuks. This instilled in her a great love of teaching. She has since returned to Indiana as a guest Professor and been made a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music.

Katherine 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, appeared at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, and more recently, at the Kilkenny Arts Festival.  This summer in Kilkenny, she will be co-directing late Beethoven quartets, arranged for string orchestra, with ICO principal cellist, Christian Elliott.  Katherine directs ICO national tours, which take the orchestra all over Ireland. Last year, Katherine released her first solo CD recording with the ICO of Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons of Buenes Aires. As part of her role with the ICO, Katherine collaborates with contemporary composers.  She has directed premieres with Irish composers including Sam Perkin, Ian Wilson, Raymond Dean, Elaine Agnew, Linda Buckley, and John Kinsella. As leader, she has also enjoyed performing solo concertos and chamber music with Jörg Widmann, Pekka Kuusisto, Anthony Marwood and Nigel Kennedy amongst others.

Katherine performs regularly, as a chamber musician and soloist, at festivals throughout Ireland and the UK. At the Aldeburgh Festival she premiered Benjamin Britten’s rediscovered Double Concerto. This year sees her at the Sligo International Chamber Music Festival, the Killaloe Chamber Music Festival and performing much of Brahms’ chamber music in the Kilkenny Arts Festival.  She is a regular guest to concert venues across Ireland. Last Autumn, she toured Ireland with pianist Finghin Collins playing duo recitals.   Her trio, Far Flung with accordionist Dermot Dunne and bassist Malachy Robinson delights audiences with its light-hearted approach, their repertoire spans from Bach to Klezmer with anything in between. In 2017, Katherine toured with other leaders of Irish Orchestras; Mia Cooper, Helena Wood and Ioana Petcu. The success of this tour has resulted in another run of concerts later this year, this time in Northern Ireland.

Katherine has been a guest leader with the Manchester Camerata, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra as well as guest soloist with the RTE National Symphony Orchestra and Concert Orchestra.  She is currently a Professor at the CIT Cork School of Music and the Irish World Academy of Music.
She plays a Jean Baptiste Vuillaume violin and her bows are by Irish maker Gary Leahy.


For Irish Chamber Orchestra performances see ICO .

quotes & reviews

The performance of Mendelssohn's youthful Octet, led by Katherine Hunka, buzzed with energy. The audience loved it.'' - Michael Dervan, Irish Times June 2014

'Under the guidance of leader-director Katherine Hunka, the ICO's execution is a model of elegance, imagination and good taste.' - Andrew Johnstone, Irish Times,

'The performance of Mendelssohn's youthful Octet, led by Katherine Hunka, buzzed with energy. The audience loved it. Michael Dervan, Irish Times June 2014
Under the guidance of leader-director Katherine Hunka, the ICO's execution is a model of elegance, imagination and good taste.' 
- Andrew Johnstone, Irish Times,

'..the playing commands one's complete attention, with every last detail serving a carefully considered purpose. Ranging from near-reckless energy to infinate calm, the music making has that elusive mix of freedom and precision many a conductor would die for. Yet this optimum is due to the ICO leader, Katherine Hunka, who directs (the Irish Chamber Orchestra) from her violin with seemingly telepathetic discretion' - Andrew Johnstone, Irish Times 26 February 2014.

'Both (James) Crabb and the (Irish Chamber) orchestra's leader Katherine Hunka played a blinder that brought yelps of approval from the audience.' - Michael Dervan, Irish Times 23 May 2007

' was good to hear the ICO's leader, Katherine Hunka, and Anthony Marwood, play as distinct yet complementary personalities, brimming with individuality yet responsive to one another.' - Martin Adams, Irish Times, 25 October 2005

'The Wigmore Hall debut of Briton Katherine Hunka revealed a sensitive and assured musician, whose engaging and thoughtfully concert programme was full of interesting musical ideas...the clean-cut lyricism and well-defined phrasing in Mozart's Sonata for piano and violin in C major K303 demonstrated what excellent chamber musicians both Hunka and (Sophia) Rahman are. Mozart's musical integrity was immaculately preserved through their tasteful and well-proportioned turns of phrase, and Hunka never dominated the proceedings - the duo element of the sonata was evident throughout.' - Simon Hewitt Jones, Classical Music Web