Studio Symphony Orchestra

Guest Artist Profiles - 2018/19 Season

  • Richard Thomas
  • Ioana Petcu-Colan
  • Krista Gallagher
  • Matthew Kendell

Richard Thomas Having debuted with the Sibelius Concerto at the National Concert Hall on his 22nd birthday with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, Irish violinist Richard Thomas has delighted audiences across the islands of Ireland and the UK as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral player. Richard began his musical studies aged five with Mrs Loretto Nelson and has since studied with Dr Fionnuala Hunt at the Royal Irish Academy of Music and professor Ernst Kovacic at the University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna. After completing his Bachelor Degree with First Class Honours, Richard began postgraduate studies at the Royal College of Music with professor Jan Repko where he is currently a Peter and Sheila Bennett Scholar. Over the years, Richard has also participated in many masterclasses with renowned performers and teachers including Maxim Vengerov, Mauricio Fuks and Daniel Rowland. Recently Richard debuted with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and looks forward to upcoming concerts with the Studio Symphony Orchestra and an evening recital at the Kevin Barry Room.

Richard is an avid orchestral musician. In recent years, he has co-led the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland, lead the RIAM Symphony Orchestra and was also the inaugural leader of the RIAM Philharmonia, with whom he worked under Maestri Kenneth Montgomery, Andrew Mogrelia and Gerhard Markson. Richard is also a regular deputy violinist with the Ulster Orchestra, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and RTÉ Concert Orchestra, with whom he recently joined for a five-concert tour of China.

As a chamber musician, Richard has delighted audiences with several groups, having performed a wide array of works from Pergolesi to Bliss. With various chamber ensembles, Richard has worked with members of the many chamber ensembles including the Vogler, Vanbrugh and Brodsky quartets. Richard has recently given chamber music performances in Gorgonzola, Italy and the West Cork International Chamber Music Festival in Bantry.

Richard has been a prize winner of many national competitions including the Irish Freemason’s Young Musician of the Year 2017, the Senior Violin and Arthur Catterall Cups at the Dublin Feis Ceol, the Crichton and Caliendo Cups at the Sligo Feis Ceol and the Trench Award. Richard currently plays on a beautiful 1732 Nicolaus Gagliano violin, kindly on loan to him from Florian Leonhard Fine Violins, made possible by the Irish Freemason’s Young Musician of the Year Award. Richard is very grateful to have received bursaries from The Flax Trust and the Arts Council Travel and Training Award to aid him with his postgraduate studies.

Ioana Petcu-ColanSince her debut performance at the age of six, Ioana has enjoyed an eclectic career path spanning repertoire from baroque to rock and everything in between. She began her violin studies with her father and continued in France and at the Royal Academy of Music in London, collecting the highest possible marks and distinctions at every stage.

Ioana has performed a considerable number of solo works with orchestra, including many of the great concertos from Bach, Bruch, Beethoven, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Prokofiev and Shostakovich as well as more contemporary offerings from Philip Glass, Tavener, Ian Wilson and Arvo Pärt.

She has toured, recorded, broadcast and coached in her role as first violin, both as former founder member of the prize-winning Callino Quartet and in her current piano trio Ensemble Avalon, whose debut CD features the trio’s ‘ravishing sensitivity’ and ‘sunlit playing’ (the Strad). Collaborations have been with artists as diverse as Barry Douglas, John Abercrombie (jazz), tenor Mark Padmore, composer Philip Glass, Martin Hayes (trad fiddle), the Belcea Quartet and Arcade Fire (indie rock) and, more recently, a hugely successful concert tour in an all-female violin quartet joining the leaders of RTÉ National Symphony, RTÉ Concert and the Irish Chamber Orchestras.

Entering her 8th season as Associate Leader of the Ulster Orchestra, Ioana is in increasing demand as guest leader joining orchestras such as City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, Camerata Ireland, English Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Philharmonic as concertmaster.

Ioana plays a wonderful Eberle violin, on generous loan from a private collector.


Krista Gallagher began studying music in Primary School with the Education Authority Music Service. She studied bassoon throughout her school years and is a keen orchestral player. She has always enjoyed being part of a group, either through the EA Music Service Saturday morning groups, Ulster Youth Orchestra, QUB SO, and SSO. These orchestras have made lasting impressions and friendships over the years. They have also included memorable concert tours to destinations such as America, France & Germany.

Since leaving school Krista studied Music at Queens’ University whilst gaining her L.T.C.L diploma in Bassoon Performance. Krista has been a woodwind tutor and the Bassoon specialist with the Education Authority, (Southern Region) for the last 19 years. An important part of her teaching focus was getting students to join ensembles and enjoy playing as part of a group. She also worked as welfare staff on Orchestra tours for years to make sure that students were able to have the same amazing experiences of travelling the world playing music as she had growing up.

Krista has also been concerned about the dwindling numbers of students taking up double reed instruments in Northern Ireland.  She has organised two NI Double Reed days in association with the EA Music Service and Howarth of London to try to promote and encourage double reed students (and adults) to continue playing.

Krista also works in Queen’s University Music Department as Student Recruitment Officer raising awareness of the five music degree pathways on offer, and she is loving introducing new students to the exciting world of Studying Music at University!


Matthew began playing the Viola at the age of 6, where he studied with the Principal Viola of the Ulster Orchestra for ten years. During his time at the City of Belfast School of Music, Matthew was awarded with numerous awards: Endeavour award for "most promising young string player" for two years running as well as the Flax Trust Bursary award of £1,000 in his final year to help towards his further studies in London. Matthew was also given the opportunity to perform Max Bruch's Romanze with Orchestra and Telemann Viola Concerto at the Ulster Hall, Belfast.

At the age of 10, he became a member of the National Children's Orchestra of Great Britain, where he spent three years playing with the UK's most talented children. During this time, Matthew got to perform in some of England's top concert halls such as the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Royal Festival Hall and even performed for the Queen of England during the year of her Diamond Jubilee.

Matthew has held Principal positions with the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland, Ulster Youth Orchestra, Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra and City of Belfast Youth Orchestra. He has also played with Oxford University Symphony Orchestra, Barbican Chamber Orchestra and many others. In 2014, he was given the opportunity to go on tour to Abu Dhabi for 5 days to help spread the importance of classical music to the middle east, an experience he will never forget. He has also performed with professional orchestras including the Ulster Orchestra and Human Rights Orchestra of Europe in Luzern, Switzerland. Also, in 2014, Matthew gained a position in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain - "world's greatest orchestra of teenagers" - where he had the opportunity to perform in the BBC Proms series for two years running playing works including Mahler's 9th Symphony, Holst's Planets Suite and Also Sprach Zarathustra.

Matthew has played under some of the world's leading conductors and soloists including Vasily Petrenko, Takuo Yuasa, Sir Mark Elder, Edward Gardner, John Wilson, Kristjan Jarvi, Sir John Eliot Gardner and many more. During his time playing in the Human Rights Orchestra, he was playing alongside members of Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, La Scala and Berliner Philharmoniker.

In April 2016, Matthew took part in the final of the Catherine Judge Memorial Award - a competition open to soloists from across the Island of Ireland who want to pursue third level education in music. Most recently, he has taken part in the Virtuoso e Belcanto course in Lucca, Italy. Here he received training in chamber music from the Ysaye String quartet and world-renowned violist Bruno Giuranna and Paul Cortese, of whom he learnt a lot from. In the future, Matthew hopes to travel to Europe to further his studies as a soloist or chamber musician.

He is currently studying for his BMus at Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Professor Rachel Roberts, on a £3,000 per-year scholarship.