Who we are

The Irish Chamber Orchestra (ICO) is Ireland’s most inspired orchestra, combining innovation, creativity and panache to produce high quality performances with a far-ranging artistic vision.  The orchestra shares a rare camaraderie and a synthesis of spirit, which is unparalleled in performance – ensuring powerful and thrilling experiences for its audiences.  Forward thinking, the ICO breaks boundaries, presenting music in its many guises. By creating extraordinary musical experiences, the Irish Chamber Orchestra strives to enrich lives and empower individuals through collaboration, innovation, education, and a passion for artistic excellence.

Outside the concert hall, the ICO’s passionate commitment to community engagementinspires and supports communities with a vitality unmatched by other ensembles.  Its Sing Out With Strings initiative provides free tuition in singing, song-writing and string instruments to 300 children throughout Limerick city – developing not only musical-, but key life skills.

Clarinettist, composer and conductor Jörg Widmann (Principal Conductor/Artistic Partner) has been at the forefront of the ICO’s artistic vision since 2012, presenting an unparalleled range of innovative partnerships during that time.  Widmann’s pursuit of excellence, combined with his irrepressible energy and sheer enthusiasm for the ICO and the repertoire he champions, has won the hearts of audiences throughout Ireland and Europe.  The ICO adores Widmann’sapproach as he continues to shape and develop the orchestra with his artistic insight and brilliance.

Widmann has attracted world-class artists to the ICO, including Tabea Zimmermann, Sergei Nakariakov, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Carolin Widmann, Mojca Erdmann, Igor Levit, Claron McFadden, and Gilles Vonsattel.  In recent years, the ICO has also forged close relations toJean Christoph Spinosi, Thomas Zehetmair, Pekka Kuusisto, Peter Whelan, István Várdai, James McMillan, Ailish Tynan, Finghin Collins, Gloria Rehm, Jochen Rieder, James Galway, Jonathan Cohen,and Stephen Barlow.

Under the warm, charismatic leadership of Katherine Hunka the ICO responds intuitively, with an intimacy and chemistry that is befitting of Ireland’s busiest touring ensemble, performing a wide-range of concerts nationally and internationally.  Hunka is pioneering, presenting diverse and colourful repertoire ranging from chamber music to grand scale; from Limerick to Leverkusen, from Vienna to Virginia.

Jörg Widmann resumed his entrepreneurial approach to programming last month with the return of the swash-buckling Jean-Christophe Spinosi who tackled Beethoven’s two C Symphonies (his First and Fifth) to the delight of audiences.  He returns for ICO‘s Christmas extravaganza.  Making its music accessible to all, the ICO performed at one of Ireland’s most lauded rock festivals: Feile Classical – The Trip to Tipp in September – collaborating with some of the country‘s most iconic bands, including The Hot House Flowers and The Stunning.  Straight after, the orchestra joined forces with Chamber Choir Ireland for the Irish premiere of  James MacMillan’s profoundly moving Stabat Mater, conducted by the composer (as part of the New Music Dublin Festival).

Thomas Zehetmair, an exceptional Mozart interpreter, provides a compelling blend of artistry and elegance.  His performances of Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3 next March, are much anticipated.  In April, Widmann is at the helm for Mendelssohn’s penultimate symphony, hisiconic Lobgesang – bringing his extraordinary journey with the composer to a close.  Genia Kühmeier, Anna Devin and tenor Colin Balzer join Chamber Choir Ireland for these much anticipated performances.  The orchestra looks forward to collaborating once again with Irish National Opera on its upcoming production of Mozart’s hugely popular The Magic Flute in May.

New music and Irish composers are at the very heart of the ICO’s mission.  Sam Perkinpresented a new ICO commission last month, and tonight, jazz flautist Michael Buckleyperforms a recent concerto Pipe Dreams by Ronan Guilfoyle.  In November, Widmannfeatures a special commission by another rising star: viola player/composer (and protégé)Sebastian Adams.  Irish singers featuring throughout the season include soprano Anna Devinin April, and mezzo-soprano Sharon Carty – who returns for a feast of opera classics in December.

The orchestra has successfully toured Europe, Australia, South Korea, China and the US.  Since his first appearance (Berlin 2007), Jörg Widmann has injected unprecedented energy, which has seen the orchestra appear at prestigious festivals and halls throughout Europe.  Earlier this year, the Irish Chamber Orchestra performed in Leverkusen and Essen, before returning to Heidelberg in April to complete its 3-year residency at the Heidelberger FrühlingFestival.  The orchestra returned to Würzburg’s prestigious Mozart Festival in June. In 2019, the orchestra will tour South America and the USA.  Closer to home, the ICO is orchestra-in-residence at the Kilkenny Arts Festival.

The ICO is resident at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick, and is funded by The Arts Council of Ireland/An Chomhairle Ealaíon.

Changing lives through music


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