The MA in Classical String Performance at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance is unique in many ways. It’s founded on the relationship between the Irish Chamber Orchestra - one of the Ireland’s premier professional ensembles - and the Irish World Academy - another of Ireland’s artistic jewels. 

The ICO has been resident at the Academy since 1995 and the MA course was born shortly afterwards as a way to harness the energy of the new relationship and use it to create the next generation of professional classical musicians. 

The violinist and chamber musician Dr Diane Daly is the course director for the MA and explains that “In recent years the course has developed an international reputation not only for artistic excellence, but for adopting a ‘whole musician’ approach that goes beyond technical excellence to also focus on body awareness and emotional intention.  

The result is to create musicians not only adept at playing their instruments at the highest level, but also musicians who can fully express themselves and connect with others through their art.

“The strength of this reputation can be seen from the international make-up of the current course cohort commencing September 2020. The 12 musicians who passed the stringent audition process travelled to Limerick from Mexico, Hungary, the USA, Estonia, Italy, Paraguay, the UK, Italy, the Ukraine, Croatia, Denmark and Austria.  

“This demonstrates the MA in Classical String performance as truly a leader in establishing University of Limerick as an international centre of excellence in its field. 


Dr. Diana Daly
Violinist and chamber musician Dr Diane Daly is course director on the MA in Classical String Performance at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at University of Limerick, where she also lectures in violin, chamber music, Dalcroze, Kodaly and improvisation.


How the course is experienced is best captured by those experiencing it. 

Dr Daly harvested these reflections from the current cohort, written after week one this semester.

“The UL campus in the early hours has an air of anticipation at the moment, as one might imagine a place on the brink of waking up.  On the frostier mornings, a sleepy mist lingers over the Shannon, shrouding a silhouetted cormorant who poses grandly for our view from the Living Bridge; the perfect meditative atmosphere for preparing mentally for the hours of new activities ahead.   

“From the first day, despite our physical distancing, the energy was tangible.  The positivity quietly circulating continued over the following days to encapsulate our programme, as we slowly took in and gave more, piecing together fragments of an idea; the reasons we are all here, the places we all came from and where we are up to with our journeys, how each of us expresses ourselves so very differently, yet an ability to communicate that seems to be the foundation of this newly-formed family. 

“I came into the MA in Classical String Performance Program at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, with the idea that I would learn a great deal about being a better instrumentalist and performer. However, after the first week of classes, I can say that I have learned far more about myself in the last week, than I had learned in the last six years of higher education in classical music. 

“Our first week was one of the most intensive schedules that I have ever taken part in, in any program ever. Each day was packed tight with chamber music rehearsals, lessons, chamber coachings, collaborative piano coachings, performance classes, and classes in movement. 

“Dr Daly has devised one of the most imaginative, unique programs any young musician could ever take part in. I found and realized throughout the whole week, that this course will take me far beyond the goals and expectations that I had in mind for this program. 

“The process of teaching us how to internalize rhythms and music through movement was a revolutionary experience. Information that I felt had taken years to memorize through reading, writing, and watching, I felt was internalized in a matter of moments. 

“The MA classical String Performance is unique in comparison to other masters around the world, having a very deep artistic and mental focus. Course Director Diane Daly and the other Irish Chamber Orchestra musicians search for the artist that each one of us carries within us, using all the artistic elements to fully edify the student. 

Each subject enlightens us on music, professionalism, communication with other classmates, teachers and the public, but above all about ourselves, our goals, our strengths and weaknesses, and about our own body. It is truly a comprehensive career path for the artist.

“I am reminded what Einstein said about vibrations - "Everything is energy" and therefore we cannot fail to consider our body, our mind and our heart while making music, just as we cannot forget the world. Making music requires a lot of work of connection, of integration, of discovering the truth.

“I feel like I can paint a thousand canvases. I perceived the movement and the fine delicacy of Degas' dancers, the harmony of Monet's paintings, the seriousness and depth of Caravaggio's paintings, the joie de vivre of Matisse, the colors and abstract worlds of Kandinsky.

“A week full of events, discoveries, many activities, dedicated to special encounters and lots of wonderful music, which reminded me of Pablo Casal’s dictum - "The main thing in life is not to be afraid of being human".  

Dr Daly offered her thanks to Anna, Ellie, Isaac, Abigail, Giammaria, Marianne and Malte for sharing their reflections. -  Andrew Carey