MA Classical String Performance

Master of Arts in Classical String Performance in association with the Irish Chamber Orchestra.

This MA in Classical String Performance at the University of Limerick is a two-year full-time programme offering advanced tuition in violin, viola, cello and double bass. This unique Masters course focuses on the needs of the individual student and is aimed at gifted string players as the final step towards a professional career.

Students receive weekly 90-minute individual lessons, technique and performance skills classes, combined with intensive weekly classes in Chamber Music, Dalcroze, Baroque, Improvisation, Body Mapping, Feldenkrais, Orchestral Excerpts and Large Ensemble.


The programme is unique in its focus on creating embodied, integrated, vibrant musicians, equipped to thrive in the modern professional environment.

Refining solo and chamber music skills whilst developing a greater awareness of the importance of the body, creativity and all-round musicianship, students are encouraged to explore their own ‘personal path’ towards realising their full musical potential. As the course is considered the final step into the profession, students are offered ample opportunities to prepare for this transition through structured orchestral excerpts and -skills classes, audition preparation, and an annual ‘real-life’ audition.

At the heart of this MA programme lies the Irish Chamber Orchestra – world-renowned for its approach to chamber music-making. The programme is led by Principal players of the ICO who rehearse, tutor and perform with the students. The focus here is the importance of practical experience, professionalism and the joy of creative music making. Former MA students are now members of the ICO and many alumni are regular guests.

Students also benefit from regular masterclasses and workshops by internationally acclaimed visiting directors, soloists, and guests of the ICO, and the opportunity to join and interact with the global gathering of musicians, dancers, and scholars based at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance.


The Course focuses strongly on developing all-round musicianship through regular Dalcroze, improvisation, rhythm and aural training workshops. Other workshops include performance technique, overcoming performance anxiety, developing efficient practicing skills etc. Pedagogy classes are also on offer, as we believe learning how to be a good teacher is important in developing one’s own reflective practice.

Students are offered electives each semester, with the aim of developing well-rounded musicians. Elective options include:

    • Traditional Irish Music/Dance
    • Gamelan ensemble
    • Vocal /Instrumental improvisation
    • Aerial Dance
    • Somatic movement, eg. Feldenkrais/Pilates/Yoga
    • Contemporary dance
    • Song writing
    • Jazz


Violin Faculty:  André Swanepoel

Viola Faculty:  Joachim Roewer

Cello Faculty: Aoife Nic Athlaoich

Double Bass Faculty: Malachy Robinson

Chamber Music Faculty: Ellen Jansson


A string quartet bursary is on offer for a quartet aspiring to give their ensemble the strongest conceivable start to professional life. The quartet will have access to coaching from the top chamber musicians in the country as well as ICO directors and guests. In addition, the ensemble would receive individual lessons, performance practice forums along with opportunities to perform nationally and internationally.


For classical players with an interest in traditional Irish music, the course offers unrivalled opportunities – the Irish World Academy Of Music and Dance is the centre of traditional music studies in Ireland. Electives are tailored to allow musicians on the MA in Classical String Performance to develop their performance practice alongside some of trad’s greatest virtuosi.

To apply for a place starting in September 2024, please apply to the University of Limerick graduate school through the link below.

You may also directly contact the acting Course Director André Swanepoel:, sending the following documents:

      • a current CV
      • a cover letter telling us a little about yourself and why you are interested in this MA programme
      • a recent video recording, for example, a first movement of Mozart or other classical concerto (Mobile and tablet recordings are acceptable as long as the audio and visuals are clear and of a good quality.)
      • After consultation with the course director, you may be offered an audition, either online or in person.
Closing date: Applications are now being accepted. Limited places are available so early application is advised. 

We recognise that each individual student is on their own personal journey of musical discovery. Due to the student-centred aspect of this holistic programme, we welcome applications throughout the full year. We hold regular auditions, online and in person. To find out when the next auditions will be please write to the acting Course Director

For Visa purposes if any student requires an earlier audition, this can be facilitated.

For more information –
Programme of Study
Semester 1

MU5401 Technique, Repertoire and Style 1

MU5411 Ensemble 1

MD6071 Written and Documentation Practice 1


Semester 2

MU5402 Technique, Repertoire and Style 2

MU5412 Ensemble 2

MD6072 Written and Documentation Practice 2


Semester 3

MU5403 Technique, Repertoire and Style 3

MU5053 Ensemble 3

MD5501 Irish World Academy of Music and Dance Autumn Elective

Semester 4

MD5522 Final Presentation


Entrance Requirements:

A primary degree with first or second class honours


an approved equivalent qualification


an equivalent capability based on prior professional experience

A performance audition and interview will be required in all cases.

We hold regular auditions throughout the year, online and in person. To find out when the next auditions will be please write to the acting Course Director

A limited number of places are available. Early application is advised.

If an audition is offered it may either be online or in person.



Postgraduate Admissions Office
Graduate School
Foundation Building
University of Limerick

Tel: +353 61 234377
Fax: +353 61 233287


Click here for UL Academic Calendar


Click here for UL International  Office 


Click here for Postgraduate Fees


Click here for a list of scholarships available to prospective Irish World Academy of Music and Dance students.






“This course is gently guiding me in the direction of becoming not only a true musician, but a true artist. The opportunity to prepare in a holistic way for auditions, integrating Dalcroze, Body Mapping and much much more with the expert teaching and coaching from the top professionals from the Irish Chamber Orchestra and providing us with a broader artistic knowledge has helped me develop as a player and person and has given me the confidence to grow.”

Jane Hackett

“I’ve really enjoyed my time on the course and I’m looking forward to what’s coming next. Working with the musicians from the Irish Chamber Orchestra so closely has been inspiring and an amazing opportunity I will never forget. I believe that this is the only course in the world that offers such a creative embodied approach to playing a string instrument”

Renee Neeson

“We each receive a lot of individual attention and care. We are then able to concentrate on whatever areas we feel are most in need of improvement.”

Andrew Sheeran

“When I did the MA Classical String Performance, I was involved in many collaborative projects including live performances with dancers, filming and recording sessions and it was an amazing experience. The facilities and atmosphere at the Academy make it easy to embody your ideas in a creative practice. Currently I am doing a PhD at the Royal Holloway, University of London and studying at the inspiring Irish World Academy was a brilliant platform for my doctoral research.”

Elena Alekseeva, Student 2012- 2014

PhD Candidate, Royal Holloway, University of London

Lecturer in Digital Music Production, School of Arts & Media, Southampton SOLENT University

Videos and MA Playlist

To view recent student performances and get a taste of our programme, please see below.


E-Viewbook Brochure

Enquiries in relation to the course can be made to:

André Swanepoel

Acting Course Director,

Irish World Academy of Music and Dance,

University of Limerick,

Limerick, Ireland.

Tel: +353-89-271 6810