Diana Cummings was born in London into a musical family: her father,
Keith Cummings, a native of Perth, Western Australia, was a distinguished
viola player who played in the Blech String Quartet and then the London
At an early age Diana started to
play the piano and then the violin and her first concert experiences were
on both instruments. The violin, however took precedence, she joined the
London Schools Symphony Orchestra with whom she performed both the Mendelssohn
and Tchaikovsky Violin Concertos in London and on their tours of England,
and led the orchestra until she began her studentship at the Royal Academy
of Music in London. (Over 30 years later Diana's eldest son, Damian,
was to follow on to become also the leader of the LSSO). She studied for
four years at the Royal Academy with David Martin, and after gaining the
Recital Diploma she won an Italian Government Scholarship and was made
an award by the Countess of Munster Trust to continue her studies with
Remy Principe in Rome. After two years she went on to New York to study
with Louis Persinger.
She was a prize winner in the International
Violin Competition "Nicolo Paganini", and the International Violin Competition
It was whilst studying in Rome that
she met the violist Luciano Iorio, later
to become her husband. On completion of her studies she settled in Italy
where together with Luciano she developed a wide ranging solo and chamber
In 1971 they returned to London
to join with Diana's brothers Julian(violin) and Douglas(cello) as the
Cummings String Quartet. At the same time Diana was developing a busy solo
career, giving recitals, concerto performances and frequent BBC broadcasts.
Orchestrally she played amongst others with the Academy of St Martin in
the Fields, English Chamber Orchestra, Philomusica of London under George
Malcolm, and the London Bach Orchestra with whom she gave many solo performances
of the repertoire of Bach. She was leader and soloist of the Northern Chamber
Orchestra from 1975 - 1985. She formed the Cummings String Trio in 1975,
and subsequently took over the leadership of the English String Quartet.
Both these ensembles have toured widely in Great Britain, Europe and the
USA, have broadcast frequently and have made many CD recordings.
Diana has an extensive repertoire
ranging from the baroque period to the contemporary including the Violin
Concertos of Kurt Weill and Peter Maxwell
For many years she visited Finland
on a regular basis teaching, coaching, and giving chamber music recitals
and concerto performances - she gave the first performance in Finland of
the Violin Concerto of Peter Maxwell Davis.
Diana Cummings is in continuous
demand as orchestral leader. She has been guest leader of many of this
country's major symphony orchestras; since 1977 she has been the leader
of the Milton Keynes City Orchestra, a post that she still holds; she also
leads the Chelsea Opera Group.
In 1982 following the death of her
teacher David Martin, Diana became a Professor at the Royal Academy of
Music. She was made a Fellow in 1988. In 1994 she became also a Professor
at Trinity College of Music. She adjudicates at Festivals and Competitions
In 1995 Luciano Iorio founded the
London Festival of Chamber Music of which Diana is one of the principal
performers. This is a month long, London wide musical event, bringing familiar
repertoire and rarities to enthusiastic and increasingly large audiences
of all ages.
Diana has three children, all now
at the threshold of blossoming careers. Damian (born in 1972) is at the
start of a successful career as an orchestral conductor, Simon (1974) is
studying to become an operatic tenor, and Camilla (1978) who, making a
very definite decision not to follow the family trend into music, is using
her artistic and creative skills as a hairdresser.
Photograph of Diana
Cummings by Naomi Zeitlin. (c) copyright 2000, 2001. All rights reserved