Irish cellist Ailbhe McDonagh is an international soloist, chamber musician and composer who performs throughout Europe, Asia and the USA.
She is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Rochester, New York and the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin. McDonagh gave her debut recital with celebrated Irish pianist John O’Conor at the National Concert Hall in Dublin, Ireland.
'Out of several performances of the Beethoven A major sonata heard over 30 years, McDonagh’s was the most musically complete and satisfying' (The Irish Times).
As a chamber musician, she performs with ‘The McDonagh Sisters’ with pianist Orla McDonagh. She is also a member of the Ficino Ensemble and the crossover traditional Irish music group, Trio Elatha where she plays traditional Irish music on the cello.
McDonagh is also an established composer with numerous compositions and commissions to her name.
McDonagh's albums include 'Beethoven: Complete Cello Sonatas 1-5‘ (2021, Steinway & Sons music label, New York) with renowned pianist and Beethoven specialist John O'Conor.
Her debut album 'It’s a Cello Thing’ was released in 2012 (CD of the week on RTE Lyric FM) which features many cello favourites. In 2020 McDonagh released the studio album ‘Skellig’ (Irish Examiner, Top Album Picks of the Year) which includes works by Shostakovich, Boulanger and Debussy.
Boosey & Hawkes, London published two books of her piano music entitled ‘It’s a Piano Thing’ in 2017 and followed up with ‘It’s a Cello Thing’, two books of her pedagogical pieces for cello in 2021. Further works for cello include a solo suite commissioned by the Arts Council of Ireland and the title piece for her recent Skellig album for cello and piano. McDonagh has also been published worldwide by ABRSM, RIAM and Hal Leonard.
During 2021, Ailbhe collaborated with cellist Katie Tertell undertaking one Popper study each week, recorded a live discussion of practice tips and performed it live to each other. Each of these videos gives two professional cellists’ practice approaches to each étude.
McDonagh joined the cello faculty of the RIAM in 2010 and she enjoys regular invitations to give masterclasses. She performs on a Postacchini cello.
How to pronounce Ailbhe
Ailbhe is pronounced AL-vah. In the Irish language the letters bh are pronounced like a v.