Experiences like performing at the IAYO festival have all helped me become the musician I am today.
Eoin Schmidt-Martin makes up one quarter of The Carducci Quartet, one of the today’s most successful string quartets. The quartet runs its own recording label and an annual festival in Gloucster. They have won various international competitions such as the Concert Artists Guild International Competition in 2007 and Finland’s Kuhmo International Chamber Music Competition. In 2011 the Carducci Quartet were nominated for a Royal Philharmonic Society Award for their family concert ‘Getting the Quartet Bug!. They also set up the Carducci Music Trust which supports music in schools and they run chamber music courses for young musicians in the UK, France and Ireland, whilst also being regular coaches on the National Youth String Weekend.
On the benefit of youth orchestras…Besides the countless studies that have proven the positive effects on children’s ability to learn, playing an instrument has so many benefits, from self-discipline to the ability to perform in front of many people.
How did you become involved with youth orchestras and the festival?
My first experiences of youth orchestras were in Cork with the Cork Youth Orchestra and Cork School of Music Symphony Orchestra. Later I was very lucky to be a member of the Irish Youth Orchestra and the European Union Youth Orchestra.
Can you remember the first time you played at the festival?
I remember performing with the CSMSO at the festival – it was always exciting travelling up to Dublin to perform at the NCH!
If you played there more than once, do you have a favourite festival?
I remember one year performing with my quintet after we had won the RTÉ Millennium Musician of the Future Competition. It was an amazing experience to perform a piece of chamber music for such a huge audience!
What impact did the National Concert Hall have on you? Was it the first time you had played on such a big stage?
I had performed there with both the junior and senior National Youth Orchestras already but every time I have performed at the NCH it has been incredibly exciting, even as a professional. It is such a beautiful concert hall and amazing to play in front of a big audience.
Do you think this prepared you for future performances? How does the experience of performing then compare to now?
It certainly has helped prepare me. At the time I would have rarely had the opportunity to perform on such a big stage in front of so many people and I can remember the nerves and excitement I felt. Now as a professional musician, I often perform in environments like this and really enjoy it. Experiences like performing at the IAYO festival have all helped me become the musician I am today.
Did being part of the festival and youth orchestras in general help the transition from amateur to professional?
Absolutely. I had the incredible luck to travel all around the world with various youth orchestras and now do this regularly with the Carducci Quartet. Having learned and performed with wonderful conductors and alongside fantastic musicians, I learned so much and gained invaluable experience in performing.
Are you still involved in the festival? If so, has it changed much since you played there?
Now that I live in the UK I don’t have much involvement with the festival but I am very honoured to be an ambassador and look forward to being more involved in the future!
What was the best thing about being involved in the festival?
I would have to say performing with my quintet. It was my first experience performing chamber music to such a packed concert hall and one that I will never forget.
When you curated your first Carducci festival, did it bring back memories of being involved in youth orchestras and the festival when you were younger? Would your involvement have helped with your own festival at all?
There is a strong emphasis on our education work within the festival. We go into schools and work with young musicians, preparing an ensemble piece to be performed during the festival, which definitely brings back memories. It may be on a smaller scale but we can see how excited the students are performing and being involved in the festival.
You are heavily involved in youth work still; what would you say is the most important thing young players could get from involvement in music and youth orchestras?
There are so many positives to learning music as a child and being part of an orchestra. Besides the countless studies that have proven the positive effects on children’s ability to learn, playing an instrument has so many benefits, from self-discipline to the ability to perform in front of many people. Furthermore playing in an orchestra you learn to be part of a team and the responsibility that goes with it. You are in a large group of friends, where everyone is playing for each other, all trying to achieve the same goal together.