Irina  - profile

Irina Simon-Renes

2nd violin

When and where was your first concert with the MCO?

I think it was in September 2007 in Grafenegg, Austria. Time flies, that's 10 years ago! I will never forget how impressed I was with everybody's enthusiasm. There is a very strong MCO spirit that catches you right from the start and I loved it from the first moment. And I still do! 

What is the most difficult aspect of your job?

Being away from home for a longer period. Living from a suitcase. Travelling like a butterfly from flower to flower, truly enjoying making wonderful music with great musicians, but somehow still missing something. I need to be home from time to time, to recharge my battery and find my inner balance. 

What is the best thing about being a musician?

Experiencing dimensions one cannot describe with words. How often would we like to say something but we don't know how? Luckily there is music, a language everybody understands regardless of their background. It still amazes me how many different nationalities there are in the MCO and how we all make music together, how we all manage to speak the same language during a concert.

The first piece of music you fell in love with:

It was Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky-Ravel. I was 14 years old and already trying to be a serious violinist. When I first heard it I was struck by all the different colours and emotions in the music. And I adored the magnificent sound of the whole orchestra in the last part, The Great Gate of Kiev. This all led me to really want to play professionally in a large orchestra, a wish I was able to fulfill some years later. 

What would you do if you weren't a musician?

I love working with children, so I would probably work as a teacher somewhere in a region in need. I feel like whichever path I choose I should do my best to do something good. If not by playing, then by teaching.


Irina Simon-Renes was born in Bucharest where she studied violin at the George Enescu Special School for Music. In 1990 she moved to Germany where she continued her violin studies with Thomas Zehetmair, Christoph Poppen and Antje Weithaas.

Irina has won numerous prizes in national and international (Italy, Germany) competitions for young musicians, and she also received scholarships from the Orchestra Academy of the Berlin Staatskapelle from 1998 to 2000. 

In 2000 she accepted her first position with the Philharmonic State Orchestra in Hamburg as principal second violin. She was first engaged as an assistant principal second violin by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in 2001 and became principal with this orchestra from 2003 until 2009. Frequent collaborations with major conductors such as Lorin Maazel, Bernard Haitink, Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Mariss Jansons and Riccardo Muti on regular tours to Vienna, New York, London and Tokyo have shaped her musical personality.

Since 2007 she has been a guest leader as well as guest principal with orchestras such as the Dutch Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Bavarian State Orchestra.  

As a soloist Irina has performed violin concertos by Berg, Bartók and Beethoven at important venues such as the Philharmonie in Berlin. Past seasons’ highlights included playing Mozart with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra the baton of Mariss Jansons.

Ever since she co-founded the Athena Quartet in 1998 chamber music has taken a prominent place in Irina’s schedule. She has participated in numerous festivals such as the Salzburg Festival, Lucerne Festival and Rheingau Music Festival. She has been a regular guest with the Chamber Music Series of the Bavarian Radio. She is currently a member of the Linus Piano Quartet, based in the Netherlands. 

In 2010 Irina started her own chamber music festival, the International Chamber Music Festival Wassenaar. In 2012 she received the first Culture Prize of the City of Wassenaar in recognition of her efforts in music education. 

In 2014 she was invited by Lisa Batiashvili and François Leleux to play at the famous Prinsengracht concert in Amsterdam.

Irina Simon-Renes plays a violin made by Nicolo Gagliano in 1768.