Category: Music

International concert season enjoys Würthwhile finale

Pat O’Kelly   The National Concert Hall ended its 2017/18 International Concert Season recently with the first visit to Ireland of the Würth Philharmonic Orchestra. Initially I mistakenly thought Würth to be a place but closer scrutiny revealed it to be the name of an individual – the businessman, philanthropist and art collector, Reinhold Würth.…

Time for the work of Debussy to take the spotlight

Pat O’Kelly   Although this year commemorates the centenary of the death in Paris on March 25, 1918 of Claude-Achille Debussy, celebratory events here have, so far, been relatively low-key. The RTÉ NSO did bring us the composer’s Poème dansé – Jeux in February as part of its season and the recent Dublin International Piano…

No shortage of imagination but top prize goes east

Pat O’Kelly   Brainchild of the ubiquitous John O’Conor, the Dublin International Piano Competition celebrated its 30th birthday last month with the 11th of its triennial events held at both the RDS and National Concert Hall. The 2018 competition, with its €15,000 first prize, together with a series of recitals in Ireland and overseas including…

One door closes but another is set to open at the NCH

Pat O’Kelly   The NCH’s 2017/18 International Concert Series is coming to a close. One programme remains on  June 12 – the first visit here of the Würth Philharmonic with Russian-born violinist Maxim Vengerov as both soloist and conductor. The principal works are Max Bruch’s evergreen 1st Concerto and Shostakovich’s 10th Symphony, which almost tops…

How Wicklow played its part in a celebrated catalogue

Pat O’Kelly   In September 2016 the National Concert Hall, RTÉ and Bord na Móna devised a celebration of music spanning the previous century. Entitled Composing the Island, it was a bold endeavour but, maybe at the end of its three-week run, one had become somewhat saturated and I remember suffering, what I call, musical…

Barry scales new heights with première of Organ Concerto

Pat O’Kelly   Described as ‘unpredictable’ and ‘anarchic’ as well as having ‘expressive intensity’, it may not be surprising to find Gerald Barry’s compositions have something of a controversial streak in them. Born in Clarecastle in Co. Clare in 1952, Barry’s introduction to music came from hearing Handel’s opera Xerxes on the radio. He was…

Nothing unlucky about Friday 13 at the Opera House

Pat O’Kelly   Hopefully Friday, April 13, 2018 will prove an auspicious date for Irish National Opera when the curtain rises on its inaugural production – Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. The première’s venue is fittingly Wexford’s National Opera House after which the company moves to Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre where the enchanting piece has performances…

A delight in store with St John Passion set for NCH

Pat O’Kelly   Despite visiting Leipzig last year during its annual Bach Festival, my musical encounters centred not on Johann Sebastian but on Claudio Monteverdi, as the event also celebrated the Italian master’s 450th anniversary through his proto-opera Orfeo and magnificent Vespers of the Blessed Virgin. The St Nicholas Lutheran Church provided the resplendent ecumenical…

Top pianists convey charm of Francis Poulenc’s work

Pat O’Kelly   I was regaled at the National Concert Hall recently by two award-winning young pianists – Alexander Bernstein and Fiachra Garvey, both former pupils of John O’Conor at the RIAM. Accompanied with spontaneous aplomb by the RTÉ NSO, they conveyed the wit and charm of Francis Poulenc’s effervescent Concerto for Two Pianos written…

INO bringing The Marriage of Figaro to Wexford, Dublin

Pat O’Kelly   With conductor Fergus Sheil active as both artistic director of Wide Open Opera and Opera Theatre Company, it seemed a natural progression both companies would merge. And so they did. Formed last year, with generous beneficence from the Arts Council, the new company was launched under the banner of Irish National Opera.…