IRISH CHAMBER ORCHESTRA
Under Katherine Hunka‘s leadership, the Irish Chamber Orchestra is a world class orchestra based in Ireland, renowned for its energy, unique sound and outstanding musicianship. Following a succession of illustrious Artistic Directors including Fionnuala Hunt, Nicholas McGegan and Anthony Marwood, the orchestra has taken a new approach, appointing two artistic partners who are taking the orchestra on a musical voyage of discovery over the coming years.
We continue to work with the extraordinary Hungarian conductor Gábor Tákacs Nagy (Principal Artistic Partner) and the multi-talented clarinettist and composer Jörg Widmann (Principal Guest Conductor/Artistic Partner), in presenting a combined vision with two very distinctive styles of programming. Gábor Tákacs Nagy (Principal Artistic Partner) opens a new book on Haydn and throughout the season, visits land-mark chapters covering the composer’s life and some of his most influential symphonies. Jörg Widmann (Principal Guest Conductor/Artistic Partner) continues his personal journey performing all the Mendelssohn symphonies alongside some of his most innovative compositions.
Since September 2010, the orchestra has visited 27 venues across 14 counties, nationwide. This is in addition to its regular concert season which runs in Limerick and Dublin (September – April annually, another 14 concerts approx.). In the past the orchestra has toured with success across Europe, Australia, South Korea, China and the US. Recent acclaimed appearances at the Rheingau and Lichfield music festivals alongside a 13-venue US tour with James Galway has raised the orchestra’s profile even more. Next year, the orchestra has already planned three performances in Germany in 2014, at the Heildelberg Spring International Music Festival (April), the Wurzburg Mozartfest (June), and at the Kurhaus, Wiesbaden (December), with Jörg Widmann.
As ever, the ICO collaborates with some of the finest international guest soloists in its 2013/14 season including Istvan Vardai Cello, JoAnn Falletta Conductor and Tabea Zimmerman Viola. As always, Irish artists are very much to the fore – James Galway, Ailish Tynan Soprano and Michael McHale Piano add to the illustrious line-up. The orchestra has enjoyed fruitful relationship over the years with an array of Irish composers and this year, Berlin-based Garrett Sholdice has been commissioned to write a piano concerto which will be performed by rising young star, Michael McHale.
Leading Irish composers who have worked with the orchestra include Linda Buckley, Frank Corcoran, John Kinsella, Mícheál Ō Súilleabháin, Bill Whelan and Elaine Agnew.
Plectrum & Bow, the latest CD release marks a collaborative recording with US composer and guitarist Steve Mackey. It features his concerto for Violin and Strings, Four Iconoclastic Episodes,which was jointly commissioned by the Irish Chamber Orchestra, the Academy of St-Martin-in-the-Fields and the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, University of Notre Dame, USA. Other recordings include Night Moves, conducted by Gérard Korsten and Hommage which features works by Irish composer, John Kinsella.
Outside the concert hall, the Irish Chamber Orchestra stimulates minds and hearts with vitality unmatched by other ensembles. 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. Sing Out with Strings, the ICO’s popular flagship community engagement programme brings free music workshops and tuition to primary schools in Limerick’s regeneration areas. It was inspired by El Sistema, a Venezuelan model of music education, which provides free instrumental and vocal tuition to children. The belief is that children should not be restricted by circumstance. Using music as a strategic tool El Sistema has helped children develop valuable life skills, enabling them to become capable musicians and conscious citizens. The ICO’s Sing out with Strings strives for similar success.
The Irish Chamber Orchestra 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.
It uniquely owns a custom built studio, which has been acoustically modelled, sharing the properties of some of the world’s finest concert halls, on campus at UL, Limerick.