Catherine Birke is a professional violinist and orchestra director from Port Washington, NY. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Temple University, where she studied with former Co-concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra, William DePasquale, and a Master of Music degree from the University of the Arts. Catherine is currently on the faculty of the Herricks School District, where she is the High School Orchestra Director and conducts three thriving string orchestras. Her ensembles consistently earn the highest rating of “Gold with Distinction,” at the NYSSMA Major Evaluation Festival, as well as other regional festivals and competitions. Under Ms. Birke's direction, the Herricks High School Chamber Orchestra won 1st Place High School String Orchestra in the American String Teachers' Association (ASTA) 2018 National Orchestra Festival, held in Atlanta, GA. Other recent credits for the Herricks HS Orchestra program include: a 2017 performance at Carnegie Hall; annual acceptance into the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society's Young Musicians Program; and acceptance into the 2019 Music for All National Chamber Music Festival, to be held in Indianapolis.
Ms. Birke also serves as a strings coach for the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra (MYO), where she leads sectionals and gives coaching sessions to the Symphony and Principal Orchestra string students. She is a sought-after Guest Conductor, most recently conducting the 2018 NYSSMA Zone 9 Area All-State High School Symphony Orchestra. She maintains active membership in numerous professional organizations, and is currently serving as Vice-President of the Nassau County Music Educators’ Association (NMEA), Division IV.
When she is not teaching, Ms. Birke can be found playing with numerous orchestras and opera companies in the NY metropolitan area, including the South Shore Symphony (Concertmaster), North Shore Music Festival (Concertmaster and Orchestra Manager), Garden State Philharmonic (Principal Second Violin), Bobby Vinton and the Carmen Dee Orchestra, and the Amore Opera Company (Concertmaster). She has played under such conductors as Charles Dutoit, Russell Stanger, Luis Biava, John Douglas, and Scott Jackson Wiley.
Ms. Birke is herself an alumna of the School of Orchestral Studies (SOS) at NYSSSA. Her summers spent at this program were formative, and led her to pursue violin studies with Wiliam DePasquale at Temple University. While she has had extensive training in concertmaster studies and orchestral conducting from many wonderful mentors along the way, SOS is where her career officially began. Ms. Birke looks forward to the opportunity to pay her own wonderful experience forward, and to share her passion for string orchestra repertoire and chamber music with the next generation of SOS students!