Music and Reviews from Clare, Limerick, Waterford and sometimes further afield

Monday, July 13, 2015

Preview: Summer Orchestral Manoeuvres

Orchestras  are like mobile homes -movable in theory but awkward and unwieldy in practice. There are the logistics- lots of people to transport to say nothing of bulky basses and capricious harps.  But every now and then,  the RTE  National Symphony Orchestra dig themselves out of their comfort zone of  Earlsfort Terrace to delight regional audiences in  major towns outside Dublin. The recent concerts with Elizabeth Cooney and Conor Palliser were season highlights that drew capacity houses to the City Hall, Cork and WIT Sports Hall,Waterford to hear a programme of Romantic classics. The NSO are off to the West next   for their debut at the Galway Arts Festival.   Welcoming this new departure,  John O'Kane, Executive Director, RTÉ Orchestras, Quartet and Choirs said: 'The Galway International Arts Festival is important because it enables people to encounter the arts in a uniquely dynamic and relaxed environment, providing an oasis away from routine and responsibilities. RTÉ are here to play a part in that heady mixture, by creating an opportunity for festival goers to encounter great classical music alongside the other artforms that the festival showcases.’
 Conductor John Wilson , a firm audience favourite leads the NSO in four works from the heart of the orchestral repertoire: the Elgar Cello Concerto with German cellist Leonard Elschenbroich  and Beethoven's 'Emperor' Concerto with Finghin Collins; Rachmaninov's Second Symphony and Nielsen's Symphony No. 4. 'The Inextinguishable'.  Completing the orchestral mix, the world premiere of Kevin O'Connell's homage to Early Music.

The RTE Concert Orchestra, although with tidier numbers, tends not to stray too far. The current season sees them keeping the fires burning at the National Concert Hall with an Autumn excursion to the BGET at the  Grand Canal Dock for a concert based on Fantasia,  Disney’s classic introduction to  favourite orchestral repertoire . 

In contrast, the Limerick based Irish Chamber Orchestra demonstrates extreme wanderlust.  The logistics are easier of course with a band size of around 20.  But even so, you have to admire the alacrity with which the ICO cranks up the tour bus and ventures beyond the salubrious base at the World Academy of Music at University of Limerick

There is a pleasing symmetry to their next trip when the ICO takes a robust four by four on the road to 8 venues around Ireland where they will perform The Four Seasons Twice!  The ever-popular Vivaldi violin concertos are a sturdy vintage vehicle for the vigorous virtuosity of leader Katherine Hunka and her feisty string fellows. They have performed them often but in quite different versions.  Finnish virtuoso,  Pekko Kuusisto’s  raspy rustic version was miles apart from Hunka’s own more lush treatment which had the added novelty of accompanying stanzas spoken aloud  by the players.  The  programme combines Vivaldi with the more modern treatment of Astor Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires., a series of single tango movements with several references to Vivaldi’s famous work.  The diverse venues range from arts centre dotted around the midlands,  a seaside in County Clare, churches in leafy Dublin suburbia and rural Rathkeale. In Waterford they are presented by the Symphony Club of Waterford at St John's Church Waterford. Note the earlier start time of 7.30pm
These musical ambassadors take the ‘world’ brief seriously and have toured with great success across Europe, Australia, South Korea, China, Singapore and the U.S   Future plans include a first collaboration with Irish Youth Opera in a touring production of Handel’s Agrippina in September.

Increase in traffic of national professional ensembles is a welcome trend that  promises  top quality programming to enhance arts scenes and festivals around the country. Watch out for these ensembles coming soon to  a venue near you.
I plan to catch the tour on Thursday night in Waterford when they are again guests of Symphony Club of Waterford.

Here is a reminder of their last visit to Waterford 

The Irish Chamber Orchestra is touring countrywide (9-19 July) visiting 8-venues with The Four Seasons Twice!
Navan (9 July), Mullingar (10 July), Birr (11 July), Roscommon (15 July), Kilkee, Co. Clare (16 July), Waterford (17 July), Monkstown, Dublin (18 July) and Rathkeale, Co. Limerick (19 July).

RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra perform as part of Galway International Arts Festival
 6pm on Friday 17 July in Bailey Allen Hall, NUI Galway

RTE Concert Orchestra play Disney’s Fantasia Live in Concert Saturday 17 October 2015, 3.30pm/ 7.30pm.
Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin 

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