Annette Cleary studied at the Royal Irish Academy of Music with Coral Bognuda, Ivan Andrews and Aisling Drury-Byrne. At the age of sixteen, she won an Arts Council grant to study with Antonio Janigro at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. Other teachers included Andre Navarra, Paul Tortelier and Eleonore Schoenfeld. Annette studied at California State University, Fresno on scholarship and graduated with a BA in music performance (magna cum laude). She then received a further scholarship to study at the University of Southern California, where she graduated with a masters degree (magna cum laude).
While in the USA, Annette was prizewinner of the Bell T. Richie Award and the Los Angeles Young Artists Competition. She was also a recipient of numerous awards for academic work, including the President's Prize, the Outstanding Academic Achievement Award and the National Collegiate Music Award. A German government grant enabled Annette to pursue postgraduate study at the Stuttgart Hochschule fur Musik, where she graduated with a K.A. (Kunstlerische Abschlussprufung), 1st class.
Annette is a prizewinner of international competitions in Europe and the US and has performed as soloist with many orchestras, including the Sudwestrundfunk Orchester, RTE Concert Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra (Ireland). In 1989 she was the first Irish musician accepted to the prestigious Schleswig-Holstein International orchestra which toured Europe and Russia with Leonard Bernstein.
Annette has performed solo recitals and television broadcasts internationally, including five tours of Japan. In Ireland she has performed at major festival sand venues such as West Cork Chamber Music at Bantry House, Eigse Carlow Arts Festival, Music for Wexford, Airfield House, Kilkenny Arts Festival and the Cork Celebrity Recital Series. Annette has acted as jury member for the Bucchi International Competition in Rome.
As Principal and Sub-Principal cellist, Annette has worked with many orchestras including the RTE Concert Orchestra, D'Oyly Carte Opera, London Symphony Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Camerata Ireland and Concorde.
At present, Annette teaches at the Royal Irish Academy of Music where she is also pursuing a Doctorate degree with Denise Neary. Annette gives master classes at Ceol na Mara Summer School for Strings in Connemara, and has been artist-in-residence at two primary schools in Co. Wicklow. She plays as guest principal with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland. As part of her current research, Annette has presented a paper at the recent Society of Musicology in Ireland Conference at National University of Ireland, Maynooth.
While living in the US, Annette studied baroque cello and played as soloist with Los Angeles Music Viva, which was founded by James Tyler and more recently she has worked with the Irish Baroque Orchestra.