Cellist Daire FitzGerald was born in Ireland and educated in England and Switzerland under the guidance of Yehudi Menuhin and Mstislav Rostropovich, before enrolling at New York's Juilliard School. While a student in New York, she was the first recipient of the Martin E. Segal award, which was presented by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Ms. FitzGerald has toured throughout Europe, Asia, and North America as a soloist and chamber musician. As a soloist, she has worked with all major Irish orchestras, Warsaw Sinfonia, Halle Orchestra, Berlin Symphony Orchestra and the Central Beijing Orchestra of China. Ms. FitzGerald's chamber music collaborators include Yehudi Menuhin, Andrè Previn, Vladimir Feltsman, Gerald Ranck, John Browning, and Lukas Foss. Ms. FitzGerald is a member of St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble and has performed with many other chamber music institutions in New York, including Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society, New Jersey Chamber Music Society and Barge Music. She has appeared as chamber musician as part of Lincoln Center's Great Performers Series and with Orchestra of St. Luke's in PBS's Live from Lincoln Center. She has performed in numerous chamber music broadcasts on public television all across the United States. Ms. FitzGerald is a co-founder of the Strathmere Ensemble and is Music Director of the Bridge Theatre Company in Washington Heights. Ms. FitzGerald has recorded for Sony Classical, Deutsche Grammophon, Decca London, Music Masters, CRI, and Nonesuch, among others.
Photo credit Paul Goode
Get to Know Daire
How long have you played with St. Luke's?
My first concert with St. Luke's was the St. Matthew Passion at Carnegie Hall with Blanche Moyse (Founder of the New England Bach Festival) in April 1990. I sat with Maxine Neuman, and the experience of sitting with such a talented and dedicated cellist was very inspiring for me. I was mesmerized listening to Blanche Moyse coach us on the beauty of Bach. It seemed like Blanche was a descendant of Bach's. When she sang, everything made perfect sense. Every gesture she made, you knew exactly what she wanted in each phrase, and all the while the music was living and breathing and so much more powerful than I could have imagined. I remember thinking that this might be the greatest musical experience I ever have, and I shouldn't forget it!
What is your most memorable experience playing with St. Luke's?
There are so many it cannot be whittled down to one. The above-mentioned concert with Blanche Moyse was one the most memorable, as was each and every rehearsal and concert with the great Robert Shaw. Mr. Shaw had a deep respect and love for music, and that rubbed off on all of us both in St. Luke's and his choirs. He always called me Darla, no matter how often he was corrected. Maybe he saw me as one of the Little Rascals ... hmm!
Then there are the oddball concerts, like playing with Metallica at Madison Square Garden. St. Luke's violist Louise Schulman must have a deep appreciation of Metallica, since she was the only musician that didn't wear ear plugs throughout the concert, and she reminds me of this fact periodically! This concert worked because the music, although not classical, was great.
Sadly, another memorable experience was playing a memorial service down at Ground Zero for the families of those who perished in the World Trade Center. There was so much we all experienced down there--it's very personal for each musician--but none of us will ever forget that day. Nor do we ever take lightly the responsibilities that are given to us to comfort others with our music.
What piece(s) do you look forward to playing with St. Luke's?
With the orchestra, any Brahms symphony or his German Requiem, and Bach's St. Matthew Passion and B minor Mass. With the chamber ensemble, all the late Beethoven string quartets, especially the "Cavatina" from his Op. 130 quartet, and Schoenberg's Verklaerte Nacht. The Schoenberg is a piece based on a poem about our failings, and ultimate redemption, as human beings. Schoenberg was masterful in portraying that, in his use of harmony. It goes through all the emotions we have as human beings and the journey comes to an end in a magical way. I studied this piece with Felix Galimir for an entire year, and I think of him every time I play it.
Who is your favorite composer?
This must be the most difficult question for musicians! Here are a few in no particular order: Bach, Brahms, Beethoven, Stravinsky, Mozart, Verdi, Bernstein, Handel ... I could keep going if you want!
Finish this sentence: "Something people may not know about me is..."
Something people may not know about me is that I play a mean recorder! When we had a hard time finding two recorder players for a concert, I volunteered my services. Our wonderful production staff got a kick out of it, and afterwards made me a wicked poster announcing my debut recorder recital. It sits in my computer room, framed!