Evergreen sounds in a world of trends

Evergreen sounds in a world of trends Jaime Martin. Photo: Eddie Jim.

The 2023/24 NSO subscription series drew to a close recently with a particularly satisfying performance at the National Concert Hall of Verdi’s Messa da Requiem. The occasion, with highly agreeable soloists Miah Persson, soprano, Jennifer Johnston, mezzo, Valentyn Dytiuk, tenor and Evgeny Stavinsky, bass, also involved the National Symphony Chorus under Jaime Martín.

The performance was not without a tinge of sadness, as it brought Maestro Martín’s five-year tenure as NSO principal conductor to an end. This began on October 11, 2019, with a single work – Mahler’s Third Symphony – and now it concluded with another significant ‘stand alone’ piece.

There have been criticisms of Verdi’s Requiem over the years mainly on the grounds that it is too operatic for a religious setting but listening to it again I said to myself, “Does it matter whether it is one or the other, this is magnificent music”. The stirring performance brought Jaime Martín’s time in charge of the NSO to a fitting conclusion. He will return as guest conductor on December 13 when his main work will be Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake Suite.


Needless to remark, the programme booklet for his farewell event included fitting tributes from NCH chairperson, Maura McGrath and Robert Read, the hall’s CEO. I quote some of their compliments. “Throughout his time with us, Jaime Martín has demonstrated immense artistic passion and dedication to the orchestra, soloists and audiences”.

“He has been a loyal constant in a time of great change that included the challenging period of the Covid-19 pandemic and the National Concert Hall’s embracing of the orchestra following its transfer from RTÉ in January 2022. Never was Jaime’s commitment more evident than during lockdown and beyond. We remember, with deep gratitude, the great lengths he went to, both personally and professionally, in order to ensure that the orchestra continued to perform and that audiences continued to enjoy a rich range of repertoire.”

“Jaime makes music to share it. For him, the audience has always been front and centre. On and off stage, Jaime’s warmth, knowledge, ease and quick wit have won hearts and minds. We thank him for his time with the orchestra and with audiences at the National Concert Hall and further afield. With gratitude and with thanks, we say, ‘mile buiochas ó chroi, a Jaime, agus gach rath ort’.”


The National Symphony Orchestra presents music by Limerick-man, Bill Whelan, at the NCH July 5 evening. The composer, who holds a Bachelor of Civil Law Degree from UCD and is also an honorary Freeman of Limerick city, came to musical prominence in 1994 through his Riverdance performed during the interval of that year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Its music became the genesis of a globally successful stage show.

Under English conductor John Rigby, songs by French chanteuse Edith Piaf and Belgian singer Jacques Brel brings Camille O’Sullivan centre stage at the NCH with the NSO on Friday July 12. The orchestra has resumed its summer Tuesday lunchtime concerts at the NCH with July 16 having Liszt’s Totentanz – piano soloist Pawel Waleski – as its dominant feature.