Joanna Crooks (née Walmsley) is Irish. Born in India, she grew up in Dublin and studied English, Russian, German and French at Trinity College 1962-
In 1995 the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland’s Board invited Joanna to accept the position of Director. During her tenure 1996-
Joanna has taken youth orchestras on tour in Ireland, England, Wales, Scotland, France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Denmark, Finland, Canada and USA, visiting festivals and memorable concert venues, among them the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Konzerthaus in Berlin, and the Hatch Shell in Boston. The highlight of her work with the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland was the Wagner Ring Festival of 2002. The NYOI with international soloists conducted by Alexander Anissimov gave two complete concert performances (16 hours of music) of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, in University Concert Hall, Limerick, followed by Symphony Hall, Birmingham.
Since 2006 Joanna Crooks has been involved in the creation and development of St Agnes’ School Violin & Orchestra project in Crumlin, Dublin. An AIB Better Ireland Award enabled the school to buy class sets of string instruments. 350 children in St Agnes’ Primary School and Scoil Colm from Junior Infants upwards have weekly class lessons in violin, while some can choose to play viola, cello and double bass in the School Orchestra. There is no charge for instruments or lessons. The Project has won several awards including the 2007 RTE Lyric FM Moladh an Cheoil Music in Schools Award, a 2007 Irish Times Living Dublin Award and the 2008 Youth Orchestra Achievement Award. Past pupils continue to have tuition in their chosen instrument at St Agnes’ after moving to secondary school. St Agnes’ Parents String Orchestra was formed in 2010 and currently has 85 members, most of whom have started to play as adult beginners. Joanna is a keen member of the 2nd violin section. St Agnes’ Musical Society was formed in 2011. In 2013 St Agnes’ Community Centre for Music & the Arts was formally established, evolving from the ongoing community project based within the school. Joanna is a Board member of St Agnes’ CCM&A. Since the initiation of the project, young players from the community have gained places in Dublin Youth Orchestras, the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland, the Royal Irish Academy of Music and DIT Conservatory, as well as taking Junior and Leaving Certificate examinations with performance on their chosen instruments.
Joanna Crooks received an Honorary Doctorate D. Mus honoris causa from the National University of Ireland, St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, on September 10th 2007, for her contribution to music in the youth sector in Ireland.