Diedre (Allison) Irons. Pianist, teacher, b Winnipeg 9 Mar 1945; LRSM 1965, B MUS (Manitoba) 1965, Artist Diploma (Curtis) 1968. After early training with Megan Howes, Diedre Irons began studies at 11 with S.C. Eckhardt-Gramatté in Winnipeg and subsequently worked with Bernard Weiser in Minneapolis and with Rudolf Serkin and Mieczyslaw Horszowski at the Curtis Institute (Philadelphia), graduating from the latter in 1968. She made her debut on the CBC at age 8, and performed with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (Schumann's Concerto in A Minor), under Victor Feldbrill, at age 12. Her official debut with the same orchestra came on 27 Feb 1964, playing Stravinsky's Concerto for Piano and Winds. She repeated the Schumann in her Toronto Symphony debut the same year under conductor Boris Brott. Her New York debut took place at Town Hall in a trio with Donald Peck and Wayne Rapier, in 1969. In 1971 Irons was the soloist with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in its first Toronto appearance (Massey Hall 29 March, playing Mozart's Concerto in C Minor and the piano part in Frank Martin's Petite Symphonie Concertante) and for that orchestra's tour of eastern Canada.
Reviewing Irons's performance of the Stravinsky concerto with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (Winnipeg Free Press, 28 Feb 1964), Kenneth Winters admired her as 'a player of brain, of executive and organizational power far more than of romantic grace and easy sentiment.'
Irons taught 1968-77 at the Curtis Institute as assistant to Serkin, appeared at the Marlboro Festival, and became resident pianist in 1968 at the Grand Teton Music Festival, Wyoming. In 1976 she was the featured guest at the first S.C. Eckhardt-Gramatté Competition in Brandon, Man, playing a program of her former teacher's works.
Career in New Zealand
In 1977 Irons moved to New Zealand, where she quickly established herself as one of that country's finest musicians. She has toured with the New Zealand Symphony, and has performed in China, Japan, the USSR, Europe, Australia, and Mexico. She visited Canada to give her first Manitoba recital in 26 years in August 1990 at Brandon University. Many of her tours were in connection with the Institute for the Development of Intercultural Relations Through the Arts, of Geneva. Among her other accomplishments are Irons's recordings, with the Christchurch Symphony, of all of Beethoven's piano concertos; with the Canterbury Trio she played the complete Beethoven piano trios, as well as the Brahms and Shostakovich works for piano and strings. She is a member of Trio Victoria, and has performed with such chamber ensembles as the New Zealand, Kodaly, and Latin American string quartets. In addition to other recordings (see Discography), Irons played on New Zealand Composers (1994, Manu 1478).
Irons taught at the University of Canterbury 1992-2003 and at the Victoria University of Wellington from 2004; she has been named a Member of the Order of the British Empire.