The American-born Irish violinist, conductor, teacher and journalist, Andrea Rea Blain, had her first atempt behind a radio microphone in live comedy for a college station, but the experience was not as compelling as her classical music studies, though both had the power to excite and terrify in equal measure. The main focus of her work at Augsburg College in in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the at the University of Minnesota (U of M) was on orchestral and choral conducting and performance on violin, viola, piano and organ. She moved to Northern Ireland in 1982, where she continued music research at Queen's University and worked as a freelance music teacher, performer, conductor and journalist. She is a founder member of the quintet Avalon, an ensemble that links the traditional music of Ireland with classical music.
Andrea Rea plays violin, viola, piano and organ. A lifelong interest in orchestral and choral conducting has been the catalyst for her involvement over the years with a variety of ensembles including orchestras, choirs and theatre groups. She was an adjudicator for the Association of Irish Musical Societies and conductor of the Belfast Bach Consort. Being the only member of her string quartet, Avalon, prepared to talk to audiences about their Irish/Classical musical fusion led her eventually to a radio microphone, and she has never been far from a studio since then.
Andrea Rea joined the BBC in 1998 and worked in various capacities in the areas of classical music, religion and ethics and current affairs. Outside of the BBC, She has also worked in various capacities in the area of library and archives, including a project in which she created an archive of artistic responses to the Troubles in Northern Ireland for the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. She also reviews poetry, musical theatre and classical music for the website Culture Northern Ireland and writes a weekly classical music column for the Belfast daily newspaper the Newsletter, the oldest English language daily paper still in publication. Her guilty pleasure is musical theatre, and she has been an adjudicator for the Association of Irish Musical Societies (AIMS). Outside of music, Andrea loves travel, film and theatre and animals of all kinds, especially her dog Buddy.