music in fermanagh

Performer Profiles

Malachy Robinson (double bass)

Music in Fermanagh
January 2023

Malachy Robinson is a dedicated chamber musician, as passionate about Early Music as he is about New Music. He is a founder of the Gregory Walkers, a group performing “Early Music from Ireland and beyond” in which he plays the viola da gamba, and is director of the Robinson Panoramic Quartet, a revelatory alternative to the standard string quartet. Principal double-bass with the Irish Chamber Orchestra since 1995, he is also a founder member of the cutting-edge Crash Ensemble as well as appearing with period-instrument orchestras such as The Sixteen, the English Concert, the OAE and the Academy of Ancient Music. He was a founder member of the Irish Baroque Orchestra and of the quintet Lunfardia led by Argentinean guitarist Ariel Hernandez, which received four-star reviews from the press for their recordings. He has performed with the Vanbrugh, Navarra, Callino, Parisii, T’ang, Con Tempo and Vogler String Quartets, the Phoenix Piano Trio, Daghda Dance Company, the Brian Byrne Big Band, and theatrical diva Camille O’Sullivan.

Solo double-bass performances have included many Irish premieres, including Serbian composer Zoran Eric’s concerto “Off” which he performed eight times on tour with the ICO. He has worked closely with many Irish composers including Kevin O’Connell, Donnacha Dennehy, Ian Wilson and Raymond Deane. His double-bass playing has been described by the Irish Times as “rich in rhetoric” with “rhythmic life” and “unassuming virtuosity” and by the Irish Examiner as “remarkable virtuosity” employing a “variety of timbres”. The Classical Review magazine (reviewing a LCMS recording) praised his “adroitly lowering, often exquisitely bathetic double bass” and the Journal of Music (reviewing Crash Ensemble) called him “a veritable groove machine”. His 2021 album the Irish double bass was reviewed on as “dazzling… intriguing… thoughtful… pure magic”.

Malachy’s performing career started when, as a boy, he sang principal roles in the Dublin Children’s Opera productions of “Good King Wenceslas” and “Birthday” at the RDS in 1982 & 1983. A prize-winning student of modern dance at the time, he took to the double-bass and joined the Dublin Youth Orchestras (with whom he performed a double-bass solo in the National Concert Hall in 1990) and the Irish Youth Orchestra.

Studying double-bass in London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama (where his second study was conducting) he graduated at the top of his year with first-class honours and the Dove Memorial Prize for General Excellence. After taking a Master’s Degree in Historical Musicology at the University of London, Malachy returned to Ireland in 1994 and has since been in constant demand, working in all idioms both on stage and in studio.

Compositions include String performed by Crash Ensemble 2001; Where Art Thou, Muse? performed by Deirdre Moynihan and the Dublin Viols 2010; Hallow’d Ground performed by the Eidola Trio 2014; Shark recorded by Crash Ensemble 2017; Dream of the Green Men performed by the Irish Chamber Orchestra 2018; For I Shall Consider My Cat Jeoffry performed by the Dublin Viols 2019; and poetry-and-music pieces Galcoville and the Forest and For the Atoll with poet Jane Robinson. He has also written countless songs.
He is a string faculty member at the Royal Irish Academy of Music and teaches on the MA in classical string performance at the University of Limerick.