Dr Ite O’Donovan has had a rich and varied career in Dublin since 1975. A graduate of Carysfort College of Education, Ite began her teaching career in the primary school sector and was appointed vice-principal when only 24 years of age. She continued her musical studies at Trinity College, Dublin as an external student and graduated with a Bachelor in Music degree in 1981. In March 1982, she made history by being the first woman to be appointed director of the Palestrina Choir at St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, Dublin. Her increasing passion for music led her to resign from her full-time post as vice-principal in 1984 and take up part-time teaching at Dublin’s College of Music. In 1986 she graduated from The Queen’s University, Belfast with a Master’s Degree in Renaissance Music and in 1988 was appointed to a whole-time post in the School of Musicianship at Dublin’s College of Music (now the DIT Conservatory of Music).
Under her direction, the Palestrina Choir went from strength to strength, travelling to many European cities, to Canada and New York and forging a reputation for excellence in performance. Her work at the College of Music included the direction of the Junior Choir, Youth Choir and Chamber Choir all of whom were prize-winners at Dublin’s Feis Ceoil and under her direction the College of Music Choral Society made a historic visit to Moscow in 1994. In her spare time Ite continued to develop her musical skills, travelling to the Czech Republic to take part in Masterclasses in Orchestral Conducting from 1992.
In October 1995, aged 39 years, Ite O’Donovan announced her intention of resigning from her post as Director of the Palestrina Choir. Crowds flocked to her final performances with the choir and the Pro-Cathedral was packed to capacity for the Christmas Services in December 1995.
In September 1996, Ite launched her new choir company, Dublin Choral Foundation, and established two new choirs, The Lassus Scholars and Piccolo Lasso, named after Orlande de Lassus, who like Palestrina, died in 1594. These new choirs have sought to achieve the richness of the cathedral choral tradition in a changing, secular society. The choirs are independent and non-denominational. They sing a varied and versatile repertoire and perform as easily in the Anglican tradition at Christ Church and St. Patrick’s Cathedrals as in the ancient Tridentine Rite in St Kevin’s Church, Harrington Street. Every December The Lassus Scholars and Piccolo Lasso present the “Great” Christmas Concert at Dublin’s National Concert Hall. They sing regularly at various Dublin venues and have travelled to England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, New-York, Boston and Moscow. They have released five highly acclaimed CDs, including the first ever Irish recording of three masses by Mozart.
Ite O’Donovan graduated from University College Dublin in 2014 with a PhD in musicology. Having taken early retirement from her whole-time position at the DIT (College of Music) in 2008 she now devotes her time and talents to developing the musical talents of the members of The Lassus Scholars and Piccolo Lasso.