Mary O’Donnell began her harp studies with the late Sr. Eugene McCabe at Mount Sackville School in Dublin and she later studied with Fiona Norwood, Sebastien Lipman and attended masterclasses with the renowned harpist and teacher Edward Witsenberg. In 1992 she was awarded an Entrance Exhibition to Trinity College Dublin and graduated with an honours degree in Music in 1996. As an undergraduate, she completed her ARIAM in Irish Harp and LTCL in Concert Harp performance. She also holds a Higher Diploma in Education and a Masters in Musicology (with a specialism in Ethnomusicology) from University College Dublin. In 2007, Mary was awarded an IRCHSS Government of Ireland scholarship. In 2009, under the supervision of Professor Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, Professor Tom Moylan and Dr. Ruán O’Donnell, she completed her PhD at the University of Limerick on the social, political and cultural history of the Irish harp and its patronage from 1790 to 1845. In 2011 she was awarded an IRCHSS Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellowship (2011-12) to prepare her doctoral dissertation for publication and her current research project, entitled Custodians of Culture: Essays on the Social, Political, Musicological and Cultural History of the Irish Harp from 1780 to 1920, will be completed at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance under the mentorship of Professor Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin. In 2012, Mary was appointed Chair of Ionad na Cruite, the Irish Harp Research Centre at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick and in 2013, she was awarded a Dobbin Scholarship by the Ireland Canada University Foundation (ICUF). Her first monograph, Ireland’s Harp: The Shaping of Irish Identity c.1770-1880 was published by UCD Press in 2014.
She has won many prizes at competitions throughout the country and at the Dublin Feis Ceoil, she has won first prizes in all Junior and Senior Irish and Concert Harp competitions, as well as prizes in singing and composition (Dr. Annie Patterson Medal). Mary is a former member of the National Youth Orchestra, RTE Cor na nOg, Belfast Harp Orchestra and has performed with many ensembles and orchestras (amateur and professional) throughout the country. She has appeared on RTE, BBC, CNN, and NBC and has toured extensively with different groups throughout Europe, North America, Africa and most recently to Asia. Mary began lecturing at St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra in 2005 and was a tutor and lecturer at the University of Limerick from 2006. She is an examiner with the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin.
Anne Cullen is a Music and Irish graduate of Trinity College, Dublin and the College of Music DIT in both piano and violin. A secondary school teacher, she has performed with many groups including the RTE orchestras and choirs as well as many musical and dramatic societies, choirs and soloists throughout Dublin and Kildare. At present, in addition to being the permanent accompanist for Baldonnel Singers, Anne also accompanies the Dublin Schoolgirls Choir and the Drawing Room Opera Company, and is the musical director of Killaloe Male Voice Choir. Anne was also accompanist and violinist for “Birth of a Nation” , which had very successful performances in Kildare and Kentucky.
A former winner of the Tenor Solo Competition at the Feis Ceoil,Paul is also currently working with the Drawing Room Opera Company, with whom he has toured extensively (both within the country and further afield) , while studying vocal technique with Regina Nathan. Paul has also studied voice with Dr.Veronica Dunne and interpretation with the late Jeannie Reddin-McDonald.
His repertoire includes arias from the Grand Operas, operetta, sacred music and songs from musical theatre , as well as popular drawing-room ballads and songs from the Irish tradition. Paul released his first solo album “A Tenor’s Keepsake” in 2014, which is available via his website.
As part of the celebrations for commemorating the 1916 Easter Rising, Paul was asked to perform in “16 Letters”, a documentary commissioned by RTE, illustrating some of the personal stories of people at the time, through the letters they wrote. It was recorded in Dublin’s GPO- epicentre of the Rising- and hosted by Ryan Tubridy. This flagship programme was broadcast on Easter Sunday on RTE 1.
Recently, it was discovered that Annie Moore (the first emigrant through Ellis Island in 1842) and Paul were first cousins, four times removed! To celebrate and honour this connection, Paul was invited to New York to attend and sing at a special function for Irish- Americans, including former President Bill Clinton, Eileen Collins (astronaut), General Martin Dempsey ( Head of Joint Chief of Staffs) and Judy Collins (Singer).
More recently, Paul performed in Castelattico, Italy during the summer, and was invited to Kentucky, to perform in a show entitled “Birth of a Nation”, as well as another performance with the No. 1 Army Band in the Curragh, Kildare.