The Irish Chamber Orchestra (ICO) is Ireland’s finest chamber orchestra, combining high quality performances with an expansive artistic vision. Virtuosic, innovative and creative, the ICO blazes a trail with its unique collaborative approach and its rich relationships with an array of creative partners.
The ICO continues to work with Jörg Widmann (Principal Conductor/Artistic Partner) who continues to expand audiences, at home and abroad, with his vision. Under the leadership of Katherine Hunka, the orchestra is one of Ireland’s busiest touring ensembles, both nationally and internationally.
In 2017-18 Jörg Widmann turns his attention to the music of Schubert and Schumann, alongside his own innovative works. The ICO firmly believes Widmann’s approach to be the way of the future for classical music, and is confident that he will continue to shape and develop the orchestra with his artistic insight and brilliance.
The ICO opens its season with Benjamin Britten’s Owen Wingrave, partnering with Opera Collective Ireland. The orchestra collaborates with some of the finest international guest soloists in its 2017-18 season. Maestro Gabor Takács-Nagy makes a welcome return in September with Alex Petcu as featured soloist. Jörg Widmann re-introduces his sister, the violinist Carolin Widmann who performs Mendelssohn’s great violin concerto. In between, bassoonist-turned-conductor Peter Whelan conducts the orchestra for the first time, on a Bach tour. ICO welcomes back the very popular Mullingar-born soprano, Ailish Tynan for a festive feast of favorites. In 2018, Jörg Widmann welcomes back the aerial dance troupe Fidget Feet, who will perform with the ICO at home, and for the first time in Germany. The orchestra anticipates its first collaboration with the legendary Elisabeth Leonskaja – whose artistry is nurtured by roots deeply embedded in the famous Russian-Soviet school of pianism. Leonskaja will perform with ICO for the first time in Ireland, and thereafter in Essen and Heidelberg.
As ever, Irish composers are very much to the fore, and this season the orchestra performs a newly commissioned composition for percussion and strings by Cork-born composer Sam Perkin (funded by the Arts Council). The orchestra enjoys fruitful relationships with an array of Irish composers including Garrett Sholdice, John Kinsella, Linda Buckley, Elaine Agnew, Míchael Ó Súilleabháin, Frank Corcoran, Ian Wilson, and with UK composer Tariq O’Regan.
The orchestra’s trail-blazing approach continues to attract the world’s finest musicians, both international and national. Recent and present collaborators include Peter Whelan, Ailish Tynan, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Carolin Widmann, Mojca Erdmann, István Várdai, Jean-Christophe Spinosi, Igor Levit, Thomas Zehetmair, Claron McFadden, Gilles Vonsattel, Gloria Rehm, Jochen Rieder, Sergeij Nakariakov, Tabea Zimmermann, Pekka Kuusisto, James Galway, Jonathan Cohen, Finghin Collins, and Michael McHale.
The orchestra has successfully toured across Europe, Australia, South Korea, China and the US. Since his first appearance with the orchestra (Berlin 2007), Jörg Widmann has injected unprecedented energy which has seen the orchestra appear at prestigious festivals and venues throughout Europe. In February 2017, the ICO and Jörg Widmann performed in Blaibach, Neumarkt, Brussels and Freiburg with great success. In March, the orchestra made its debut at the Konzerthaus Vienna to great acclaim, before returning to Heidelberg for the 2nd year of its international (3-year) residency there, at the distinguished Heidelberger Frühling Festival. In 2018, the Irish Chamber Orchestra performs in Leverkusen and Essen, before returning to Heidelberg to complete its residency there. The orchestra returns to Würzburg’s prestigious Mozart Festival in June.
Adding to the orchestra’s already numerous recordings, the Orfeo label has just released the second of a series of three albums of Mendelssohn’s Symphonies combined with works by Jörg Widmann, as directed by him. Outside the concert hall, the Irish Chamber Orchestra inspires and supports communities with a vitality unmatched by other ensembles. Its Sing Out with Strings initiative provides free tuition in singing, song writing, violin, viola, cello and bass to 300 children throughout Limerick city – developing key life skills by using music as a tool for tangible social change.
The Irish Chamber Orchestra is resident at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick. The orchestra is generously funded by The Arts Council of Ireland/An Chomhairle Ealaíon. Additional support from Culture Ireland contributes significantly towards the ICO’s international touring initiatives.
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