Camerata Ireland

International Irish Orchestra

Headphone Icon LISTEN to Camerata Ireland performing Beethoven's Molto Allegro

Camerata Ireland was established by virtuoso pianist Barry Douglas in 2001 and has quickly grown into a highly-regarded energetic young orchestra.

Camerata Ireland with conductor Barry Douglas‘Camerata is a chamber orchestra of young Irish musicians,' says Douglas.

'Very quickly it took off into something very special. It has a unique musical sound and has been very successful at building up a very strong international career very quickly.

‘Although not a youth orchestra, it is a very young vibrant orchestra. 75% of musicians are in their 20s and that shows in the way they play music.’

Douglas is a long-term advocate of a conservatoire for Belfast, where young people could be properly trained.

Many of the best singers and musicians leave for Dublin and London and many do not return.

Initiatives like Camerata’s annual Clandeboye Festival help to promote the face of young classical music in NI.

Each year a Young Musician of the Year is selected from the performers at the festival. The winner benefits from prize money, a bursary of £5000, and is promoted as an artist for the year following their success.

Hugh Carslaw, Eimear McGeown and Barry Douglas at the Rediscover NI launch.This year’s winner, flautist Eimear McGeown has found that winning the award has made a major difference to her career.

She has been given the opportunity to play a specially-commissioned piece for flute and strings by David Morris in Washington as part of the Rediscover NI programme.

McGeown's prize was presented by Mary McAleese, President of Ireland, and McGeown has played for Mary Robinson, John Major and Prince Charles.

The prize has opened many doors for McGeown. She has been able to make a living from her music, travelling to consulates and embassies around the world.

Along with Douglas, she recognises a certain lack of opportunity for classical musicians in NI.

‘You have to move out of NI and go to London. You need to get the basic contacts and the intense training which isn’t possible in Belfast yet, although it is improving.’