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Q&A with Ioana Petcu-Colan

The 36-year-old violinist will be performing at The MAC, Belfast, next month for the Night Music series

By Claire Savage

How did the Night Music concerts come about and what can we expect from your own performance?

The MAC approached me with the idea of curating a concert and I wanted it to be something a bit different. The performance is one-and-half hours long and the solo

violin piece finishes with a 15-minute endpiece!

You play an antique Eberle violin, on loan from a private collector. Does it make a difference using an older instrument?

Most people will play modern violins. The difficulty with that, is that you have to play it in, so you're not sure how it's going to go. Old violins come with the antique value, though... but it would be hard to afford it!

Your parents are professional violinists. Did you learn from them?

My mum would have practised at home and apparently I wanted to play with her. I just learned with my dad, though. I carried on in Cork, then London and France, and ended up here. I've lived in Bangor now for about four years.

Your family hails from

Romania. What made them decide to emigrate?

Yes, my dad is from Bucharest and my mum from Transylvania – I'm the first one born in Ireland. They came over to Cork in the late 1970s, mum initially because she was second violinist in a string quartet – they were the official RTE Quartet in Residence. My dad followed.

As a child of foreign parents what was it like growing up in Ireland at that time?

One of my pals, her father was Persian and we were the two odd ones out. I've been back to Romania once or twice and I speak Romanian, but I don't really feel like I come from there.

Are your daughters, Nina (4) and Hannah (3) going to follow in your footsteps?

Well, both have a little violin already, and Nina is going for lessons with a girl from the orchestra. We bring Hannah along too because my husband, Ross – a trombonist – would be working on a Saturday and she loves to be involved!

Is it hard to juggle a home life with such a busy music career?

I'm really enjoying the Ulster Orchestra. It's the first time I've ever had a full-time position like this and it's fantastic. In terms of juggling things, it's mostly fine.

Is travelling something you would enjoy a lot as a musician?

I've always liked travelling and music is that kind of profession. When my mum worked in the quartet it moved to Italy, so at that point, she commuted for the next 10-15 years.

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