Irish Chamber Orchestra 

Changing lives through Music

The Story


The Irish Chamber Orchestra is a world class orchestra, based in Limerick, renowned for its diversity, energy, its unique sound and outstanding musicianship. The orchestra was founded in Dublin in 1963 by János Fürst  and re-branded in 1970 as the New Irish Chamber Orchestra under Principal Conductor, André Prieur.  In 1995 the Irish Chamber Orchestra re-located from Dublin to the University of Limerick and reverted back to its original Irish Chamber Orchestra (ICO) brand.  Its success is reflected in its uniquely owned custom built studio, on campus at UL.  The orchestra  is funded by The Arts Council of Ireland/An Chomhairle Ealaíon.

Under Katherine Hunka‘s leadership, the Irish Chamber Orchestra offers a richly diverse concert season in Limerick and Dublin (September – April) as well as two national tours annually.

Following a succession of illustrious Artistic Directors including Fionnuala Hunt, Nicholas McGegan and Anthony Marwood, the orchestra appointed two artistic partners – Hungarian conductor Gábor Tákacs Nagy (Principal Artistic Partner) and clarinettist/composer Jörg Widmann (Principal Guest Conductor/Artistic Partner).  With different styles, Gábor Tákacs Nagy closes out his Haydn cycle which visited land-mark chapters in the composer’s life and some of his most influential symphonies.   Jörg Widmann continues his personal journey performing all the Mendelssohn symphonies alongside some of his most innovative compositions.

At home, the ICO continues its rich tradition of collaboration with leading international guest soloists into next year, including virtuosic violinist Kristóf Baráti alongside world renowned American soprano, Claron McFaddenWe welcome back the exciting young cellist István Várdai who continues to make waves across Europe.

The ICO enjoys fruitful relationships over many years with an array of Irish composers, including Garrett Sholdice, John Kinsella, Linda Buckley, Elaine Agnew, Frank CorcoranMíchael Ó Súilleabháin and Bill Whelan.  An exciting young composer Sam Perkin is the ICO’s latest commission and his work, funded by the Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon, was performed in February 2015.

The orchestra has worked with some of the world’s finest musicians both international and national including Anthony Marwood, Sergeij Nakariakov, Tabea  Zimmerman, Pekka Kuusisto, James Galway, Ailish Tynan, Steven Isserlis, Stephen Hough, Gérard Korsten, Alison Balsom, Leon Fleisher, Steve Mackey, Jonathan Cohen, Nuria Rial and Michael McHale.

It has toured with success across Europe, Australia, South Korea, China and the US and demand for the orchestra’s presence on the world stage has been altogether more fruitful, in recent times.  International appearances for the ICO with Widmann began in Berlin in 2007 and since then he has been influential in opening doors for the orchestra across Europe.  In 2011 the ICO appeared at De Singel, Blue Hall, Antwerp.   In 2013, they performed at the prestigious Konzerthaus, Berlin and at the Heidelberg Frühling Festival which has resulted in a three year residency beginning May 2016. Later that year, the orchestra appeared at the Rheinghau and Lichfield Festivals and undertook a US-tour across 9 states, visiting 13 cities with flautist, Sir James Galway.  This year, Widmann and the Irish Chamber Orchestra performed at the Storioni Festival, Holland, the Heidelberg Spring International Music Festival and at the Mozartfest, Wurzburg in Germany with Christmas concerts in Bregenz, Austria and Wiesbaden, Germany with Ailish Tynan.

In 2015 the orchestra embark on a US 10-Concert tour with Principal Artistic Partner, Gábor Tákacs Nagy and celebrated Hungarian cellist, Istvan Vardai.  As well as the Heidelberg Residency in April, the orchestra performs in Cologne in June 2016.  The ICO directed by Widmann return to the Mozartfest, Wurzburg with acclaimed violist, Tabea Zimmerman in June 2016. July of that year sees the orchestra make their Swiss debut in Zurich with Widmann and a highlight in 2017 must be the orchestra’s debut in Vienna’s Konzerthaus.  The orchestra will perform in London’s Wigmore Hall in 2017, when Widmann will be artist-in-residence.

With several recordings, the ICO has reached agreement with the prestigious German international record label, Orfeo, to record Mendelssohn’s Symphonies with Jörg Widmann. 

The Irish Chamber Orchestra has developed a comprehensive community engagement programme which brings live music from the concert hall directly to the community.  It offers music as an instrument of social change, introducing children to music, creativity, innovation, understanding and openness, thus helping them to reach their full potential as individuals.

The Irish Chamber Orchestra continues to make waves at home and abroad and looks forward to a bright future ahead.  We encourage you to support us in whatever way you can.  Buy a ticket, a CD, tell a friend about us, make a donation, explore our community work.  Continue the story and join us on our journey!


Copyright © 2011 Irish Chamber Orchestra. All Rights Reserved.
Charity Number 8789

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