Deirdre O'Leary is a freelance clarinettist with a passion for chamber music, contemporary music and creative outreach work. She graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester with performance diplomas in Clarinet and in Chamber Music. During her college years, she travelled twice to Siena on scholarship to study at the Accademia Chigiana summer school. In her final year of college, Deirdre began working regularly with the NSO of Ireland and the RTECO doubling on bass and E flat clarinet. She has also worked regularly with the Wexford Opera Festival Orchestra, Irish Chamber Orchestra, EUYO, and at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival.
In '97/98, Deirdre attained a Yachtmaster qualification and taught sailing for Sunsail in Greece.
Deirdre has worked in outreach settings since 1998 for the National Concert Hall, Music Network and other arts bodies. In 2008 she received funding from the Arts Council, and travelled to Porto to observe and take part in a huge and inspiring outreach project with Tim Steiner.
Since joining the Crash Ensemble in 2003, Deirdre developed an obsession with funky contemporary music and experimental bass clarinet noises. She has travelled to Amsterdam, Estonia, Australia and the US with the group. In May 2013, Deirdre played Carnegie Hall, NY with Crash Ensemble, Dawn Upshaw and Iarla Ó Lionáird.
With Susan Doyle and Síle Daly she founded Prey trio in 2001.Prey Trio toured widely as part of the Music Network Musicwide programme for nine years. They played on lyric fm’s Blue of the Night live from the Sugar Club, commissioned and premiered many new Irish works, and staged a theatrical show for trio with Chrissie Poulter which they performed in the Lofoten Theatre Festival, Norway.
Deirdre now plays with the recently formed Cassiopeia Wind Quintet with Cormac OhAodáin, Matthew Manning, Catríona Ryan & John Hearne. In 2011, Cassiopeia performed the Poulenc Sextet with Finghin Collins. In 2014, Cassiopeia will play at the Galway Mid-Winter Music Festival and the New Ross Piano Festival, at Finghin's invitation.
Deirdre lives in a yurt in a friend's orchard in Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary. She and her husband and their two daughters are building a cob house in the ecovillage.