Mary Ann and Robert Gorlin Chair
DSO member since 2007
First-generation Irish American cellist Úna Fionnuala O'Riordan was born in the Chicago suburbs and began playing the cello at four years old after hearing a string instrument demonstration in her kindergarten class. When her family moved to the Washington DC-area, she continued her musical education and went on to attend the Interlochen Arts Camp as an Emerson Scholar. Her experiences at Interlochen, plus the opportunity to perform for Mstislav Rostropovich at the 1992 Kennedy Center Honors Ceremony, encouraged her to seek a career as a professional musician. She went on to receive a Bachelor of Music with distinction from the Eastman School of Music, where she was named an Arts Leadership Scholar.
As a recipient of the Eckstein Grant, O'Riordan did her graduate studies at the Northwestern University School of Music and performed with the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra as the winner of the Northwestern University Concerto Competition. While completing her master's degree, she was also Co-Principal Cello of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, working under the batons of Daniel Barenboim and Pierre Boulez.
A fellowship recipient at the Aspen and Meadowmount music schools, she has performed both orchestral and chamber music in major concert halls across the United States, Europe, and Asia including Carnegie Hall, Los Angeles’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Berliner Philharmonie in Germany, and the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Her principal teachers include Hans Jørgen Jensen, Pamela Frame, Alan Harris, and Loren Stephenson, and she has performed in masterclasses for Janos Starker and Yo-Yo Ma, among other esteemed pedagogues.
Since her appointment to the DSO in 2007, O'Riordan has enjoyed performing chamber music throughout Michigan, appearing on series such as Pro Mozart, Classical Brunch in Birmingham, and Enescu, as well as at the University of Michigan, Wayne State University, and Kerrytown Concert House. As a member of the contemporary music ensemble New Music Detroit, she has performed at Detroit’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCAD), the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit (CAID), and the Bohemian National Home.
Passionate about music education, O'Riordan served on the faculty for the DSO’s Power of Dreams String Project and regularly coaches both chamber music and cello sectionals for the DSO's Civic Youth Ensembles program. In 2011–2012, O'Riordan was the cellist for the Fusion Project, a series of school presentations fusing music and photography inspired by the city of Detroit.
In her free time, O'Riordan is a passionate traveler and enjoys photographing her adventures, including an especially memorable trek to Machu Picchu in 2011. O'Riordan performs on a cello made by Carl Becker and Son, 1954.