Laganside Sinfonia began performing in 2012 with the aim of providing high quality performances of major and popular symphonic repertoire in Northern Ireland whilst raising money for local charities with both local and global impacts. Over the last five years the orchestra has grown from strength to strength and has performed major works including Rachmaninoff's Second Symphony, Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony, Rimsky Korsakov's Scheherazade and Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto! Membership of the orchestra is not fixed but around 60 players take part in each concert. Membership is drawn form a wide background with musicians, students, doctors and many more taking part. All of the performers in the orchestra give up their time for rehearsals and concert in return for no fee so as to maximise the amount being raised for charity. Many members are former members of the City of Belfast Youth Orchestra and the Ulster Youth Orchestra so the concerts are a chance to get together with old friends, play some great music and raise money for good causes.
Conductor - Paul McCusker
Paul began studying music at the age of six when he took up the piano before going on a year later to take up the violin. Growing up in Belfast Paul was a member of both the City of Belfast Youth Orchestra and the Ulster Youth Orchestra (UYO). After leaving school Paul opted to study biology at Queen’s University Belfast but whilst at Queen’s Paul became very involved in the musical life of the university, conducting the Music Society Choir in their 2008/2009 season before then conducting the Queen’s University Symphony Orchestra from 2009–2011, during which time he helped to lead the orchestra on its inaugural tour to Glasgow and Edinburgh.
In 2011 Paul began conducting lessons with Garry Walker and in 2012 conducted UYO during their first film music concert in Victoria Square and in a string orchestra concert. He rekindled his relationship with the Queen’s Orchestra when he conducted the orchestra during their 2013/2014 season which saw a busy time for the orchestra, culminating in a performance of Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy with soloist Joanne Quigley, followed by a UK tour. In 2015 Paul worked with UYO's play-in day and directed a UYO chamber orchestra at the Hillsborough Oyster Festival. Paul has also conducted the Esker Festival Orchestra in film music concerts in both 2015 and 2016. Having completed his PhD in biology Paul worked at Queen's as a post-doctoral researcher in molecular parasitology for three before beginning a Masters course in conducting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in September 2017.
Violin - Patrick Rafter
Regarded as one of Ireland’s most exciting young musicians, international award winning violinist Patrick Rafter has toured Europe, the Middle East, Asia and S. America as concert violinist and chamber musician, and currently studies under Maxim Vengerov at the International Menuhin Music Academy. A host of international awards include 1st prize at the International Valiant Violin Competition, Switzerland, 1st prize London Performing Arts Festival, 2016 and the 2015 RDS Music Bursary. A top graduate of Royal Academy of Music, London, he has made debuts with leading orchestras including the Prague Philarmonia, RTE Symphony Orchestra, Mannheim Chamber Orchestra and has performed some of the most renowned venues, including the Wigmore Hall, the Concertgebauw and the Royal Albert Hall.
Patrick has worked under highly noted conductors Marin Alsop and Semyon Bychkov and has performed alongside Maxim Vengerov and Schlomo Mintz. Patrick has received a host of Ireland’s most prestigious awards, including the National Concert Hall Young Musician of the Year, Clandeboye/Accenture Young Musician of the Year. He plays a G. Chanot violin of 1840 supported by the department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht. Upcoming plans include recordings with RTE Lyric FM, performances throughout Europe and a debut with the London Mozart Players.
Violin - Christopher Quaid
Violinist Christopher Quaid is a second year Masters in Performance student at the Royal College of Music, London where he studies with Jan Repko having previously graduated from the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin with First Class Honours. A deeply committed orchestral musician, he has performed with the Camerata Ireland, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, RTÉ Concert Orchestra, RCM Symphony and Philharmonic Orchestras as well as with members of the Irish Chamber Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.
Christopher’s awards include the Leo Gibney prize at the Royal Irish Academy of Music for best chamber music group and the Elsner Memorial Cup at the Electric Ireland Feis Ceoil for his performance of Beethoven Sonata No. 8. Christopher has performed extensively across the UK and Ireland, although tours have included performances in Poland, Estonia and New Zealand. In May 2016 Christopher made his concerto debut with Wieniawski’s Concerto No. 2 at the National Concert Hall in Dublin and in November of the same year he was awarded the Irish Heritage Bursary. He gave his bursary winner’s recital in Leighton House Museum in June 2017 and has performed on behalf of Irish Heritage at the Irish Embassy in London, The Ireland Funds St. Patrick’s Day concert in London and Iveagh House in Dublin.
Clarinet - Eve Wieltschnig
Eve Wieltschnig took up the clarinet in her hometown of Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. She has been a member of the Ulster and National Irish Youth Orchestras, performing in various venues across Ireland, including the West Cork International Chamber Music Festival and the National Concert Hall, Dublin. In 2012 she was selected by the Ulster Youth Orchestra to participate in a master class with Michael Collins as part of the International Festival of Chamber Music, and played principal clarinet in the orchestra’s performance at the BBC Proms. Eve completed her bachelor degree at Trinity Laban Conservatoire, graduating with a first class honours and is now completing her masters at the Royal College of Music in London.
Eve has performed with a wide range of ensembles, including the Ta’alu Quartet, the Palačinka Trio, the Siegfried Camerata and with Orchestra Vitae in various outreach concerts and primary school workshops. She is also a member of Op Sa! Balkan Band, which has performed live on BBC World on Three Radio, and alongside the London Philharmonic Orchestra as part of their ‘Funharmonics’ concert series. Performances this year have has included Puccini’s Tosca at the King’s Head Theatre in London; a concert with Vladimir Ashkenazy in the RCM Symphony Orchestra; of Poulenc’s Sonata for Two Clarinets with Maximiliano Martín, the principal clarinettist of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.