Deirdre Masterson David Wray Mary McDonagh Christine Scarry Eoin Cannon Aileen Donoghue

Deirdre Masterson
Head of Vocal Studies/Company Director

A native from Gorey, Co. Wexford, Deirdre grew up in a household enriched with Irish traditional music where at the age of twelve years she began her classical vocal and music studies in theWexford School of Music under the direction of Alan Cutts. That same year she was chosen to play the part of the ‘Spirit,’ in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneasand this was the start of many enjoyable years performing in the internationally acclaimedWexford Opera Festival in operas, scenes, concerts and recitals to critical acclaim. Deirdre was the recipient of U12, U14, U16 and U18 Feis competitions in Arklow, Kilcoole and Dublin respectively including the coveted Junior Rose Bowl throughout this period, whilst ascertaining her singing and theory grades with distinction. She made her national television and radio debut at fourteen singing ‘Somewhere over the rainbow,’ on The Late Late Toy show with Gay Byrne.

At seventeen Deirdre won a scholarship to study opera, drama and music with Dr. Veronica Dunne in the Leinster Opera Studio. Deirdre became the youngest singer ever to win The Gervase Elwesaward at eighteen, winning the Dramatic and Geoghegan cup en route to achieving this overall prestigious vocal award at Dublin Feis Ceoil. She represented Ireland in Munich later that summer to gain entrance into an international intensive opera studies course in the Prinzregentheatre. She duly won the scholarship to study under world renowned Wagnarian soprano Astrid Varnay. Deirdre returned to complete her diplomas in voice and drama in Dublin and gained her first professional operatic contract with Opera Irelandwhere she played the parts of ‘Sandman and Dew Fairy,’ in Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel. Throughout this three year contract Deirdre gained invaluable experience playing and covering numerous leading operatic roles in the Gaiety Theatre, whilst studying with leading vocal technician David Harper in London. She was the recipient of the ESB award of €5,000 for three consecutive years and also received a national award for outstanding achievement for one so young within the arts. On completion of her studies in Ireland Deirdre went to Cardiff and studied privately for a year with vocal coach Gerald Wragg and continued her music and language academic studies at The Welsh Conservatory of Music. She won the TSB €5,000 award for three consecutive years allowing Deirdre to continue her studies in Manchester for two years and work intensively with English National Opera’s repetiteur Rosemary Walton and attend the Goethe Institute. Deirdre also took intensive courses at this time in Austria, Germany and Scotland, whilst training regularly with coaches in London to build up her repertoire and portfolio.

Throughout this period Deirdre was hired by German company Landgraf to play the leading role in the first Irish dance musical ‘To dance on the moon.’ She toured the five continents over three years to critical acclaim and features on the original soundtrack. Utilising this experience and contacts, Deirdre created The Irish Sopranos with colleagues Kay Lynch and Wendy Dwyer.

Having successfully showcased in New York’sHilton Hotel, the girls were signed by CMI entertainment and toured the states extensively for ten years. Albums entitled ‘A time for us,’ and ‘Believe,’ reached number two and three respectively in the World Cross over Charts alongside artists such as Andrea Boccelli and Josh Groban. Deirdre managed, promoted and marketed this product and the girls enjoyed sell out tours on both sides of the Atlantic from Dublin’s National Concert Hall to New York’sCarnegie Hall. In addition to performing with The Irish Sopranos in Carnegie Hall as a guest artist to tenor Ronan Tynan and their own Christmas concert; Deirdre was the chosen soprano to sing inCarnegie Hall for St Patricks Day concert in 2008.

Deirdre continued her vocal training stateside with metropolitan coach Bill Schumann. The girls enjoyed numerous television, radio and PBS broadcasts throughout this decade. Recent performances include singing with Il Divo to 60,000 people in Musgrave Park last summer. 

Deirdre has always been an ambassador for education. In 1999 she set up a summer camp arts programme in her locality. The reaction was so positive to this venture that Gorey Singing Schooldeveloped and currently Deirdre has a vocal academy Ceol Loch Garman which promotes and develops talent in the area, specializing in vocal technique and offering Royal Irish Academy of Music examinations. Deirdre became intrigued with wanting to help broken voices and works closely with British Vocal Association and its former president Linda Hutchison. She has become recognised as one of the leading vocal technicians in Europe in addition to working with patients of ENT specialists in Ireland. This is one of the reasons Deirdre was nominated as an Ambassador for Wexford recognizing her work both at home and abroad.

In 2012, Deirdre embarked on her current project which was to get a musical theatre college and third level accredited musical theatre courses in Ireland. The Irish College of Music Theatre (IMT) was born supported by Dail Eireann with patron Colm Wilkinson. Deirdre is currently founder and director of this college partnering with Dublin Institute of Technology for Level 6 and Level 7 courses. Thirty four Level 6 CPD musical theatre students graduated in October followed by a workshop with West End Musical Director Robert Scott and musical theatre star Michael Ball. In September 2015, 22 students progressed onto the level 7 CPD programme and an additional 25 commenced their Level 6 course.

IMT has just sold out the Helix Theatre with its production of Kander and Ebbs iconic showCabaret. Their end of year showcase will take place in The Sean O’ Casey Theatre in June. Last year’s performance took place in The John Field Room at The National Concert Hall with The Minister for Arts Heather Humphrey’s and Senator Michael D’Arcy as special guests. Promoters, managers and agents were invited to this performance where some of IMT’s students have already gained employment on the national and international stages from this showcase. Similarly IMT students were particularly excited to be invited to join pop sensation Take That in the 3 Arena and perform 17 numbers on stage last May. In addition to IMT’s carefully chosen faculty boasting academic and West End credits; International guest tutors have included West End Stars such as- Annalene Beechey, famous for her role of ‘Christine,’ in Phantom of the Opera, and ‘Belle,’ in Beauty and the Beast, and Killian Donnelly – last year’s Olivier nominee for Memphis lives in me and this year for his leading role inKinky Boots. Head of British Vocal Association’sLinda Hutchison has also given a workshop focusing on the health and care of the voice. She and expert Ron Morrison are due to return in association with their book launch on Accent Method later this year. RTE’s Derek Mooney covered IMT’s inauguration and auditioning process on radio 1 and Nationwide recently did a feature on the college which aired before Christmas. Irish TV also filmed the students in preparation for their production of Cabaret.

Deirdre continues to enjoy performing as an operatic artist. Recent performances include Carmen, The Barber of Seville, Cosi fan Tutte andMadame Butterfly for Opera in the Open, Carmenand The Magic Flute for Lismore Operatic Festivaland Il Traviatta and Il Trovatore for Lyric Opera. She directed and performed as a soloist for The National Concert Hall’s recent production of The Irish Ring. Deirdre is completing her MMus withDIT in February 2017.