Bond composer David Arnold, Danielle de Niese, Declan O’Rourke, John Wilson & more – RTÉ Concert Orchestra January–March 2015

RTÉ Concert Orchestra January–March 2015
National Concert Hall, Dublin ● University Concert Hall, Limerick ● Leisureland, Galway 

Two terrific guests in January get the year and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra Signature Series 2015 off to a fine start: one of the world’s most glamorous operatic stars Danielle de Niese (Thursday 15 January, National Concert Hall) and one of today’s top film and TV composers, David Arnold, known for five Bond films, Stargate, Independence Day, Sherlock and plenty more (Thursday 22 January, National Concert Hall)

‘Sorcerer of songs’ Declan O’Rourke and the RTÉ CO team up again by popular demand for concerts in Limerick (Thursday 12 February), Galway (Friday 13 February) and Dublin (Valentine’s Day, Saturday 14 February)

The RTÉ CO celebrate the legendary Gershwins and their Hollywood career with John Wilson and vocalists Kim Criswell and Matthew Ford (Wednesday 18 February, National Concert Hall)

John Wilson and the RTÉ CO continue their journey through the Essential Classics with three nights of glorious music:

–          An all-Mozart evening including the famous Symphony No. 40 and the Concerto for Flute and Harp, featuring RTÉ CO’s own critically acclaimed Principal Harp, Geraldine O’Doherty (Thursday 26 February, National Concert Hall)

–          Rising star Eldbjørg Hemsing makes her RTÉ CO début in Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, with Elgar’s beloved Enigma Variations also on the bill (Wednesday 18 March, National Concert Hall)

–          Ravel is the thread running through an evening of masterpieces that includes his G Major Piano Concerto with French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Vaughan Williams’ Tallis Fantasia with the RTÉ Contempo Quartet and Gershwin’s An American in Paris (Wednesday 25 March, National Concert Hall).

Andy O’Callaghan and the Celebration Singers are back with the RTÉ CO for another evening that will have audiences dancing in the aisles – Disco Inferno! (Wednesday 4 March, National Concert Hall)

 Emmy-nominated movie maestro Richard Kaufman salutes Heroes in Hollywood with music from films ranging from The Magnificent Seven to 633 Squadron to Star Trek to Spiderman (Wednesday 11 March, National Concert Hall)

 Full listings below.

 

Danielle de Niese
Opening the RTÉ Concert Orchestra Signature Series 2015
Thursday 15 January, 8pm
National Concert Hall
RTÉ Concert Orchestra

Neil Thomson conductor

 ‘There is no doubt that de Niese is a star’ – The Times

‘Opera’s coolest soprano. The silvery voice. The ravishing looks.’ – The New York Times

Star soprano Danielle de Niese is one of the world’s most sought-after singers, her diary filling up five years in advance.  We are delighted to be bringing her back to Ireland to launch this year’s RTÉ Concert Orchestra Signature Series, following the phenomenal response to her concerts with the orchestra in 2012 and 2013.

Born in Australia to Sri Lankan parents¸ as a child in Melbourne de Niese was studying piano, tap dancing, jazz dance, ballet, karate and drama. She started music theory aged seven, and at nine she won a baby grand in an Australian TV talent show singing Whitney Houston songs (Houston and Kiri Te Kanawa are her idols). The family moved to the US, where she made her début at the Los Angeles Opera aged 15 and won an Emmy for TV presenting at 16. At 19 she was singing at the New York Met opposite Bryn Terfel, Renée Fleming and Cecilia Bartoli.

In 2005 Danielle de Niese had one of those fairytale arrivals on the international opera scene. A late replacement for a sick singer, she went to Glyndebourne to sing the part of Cleopatra in Handel’s Giulio Cesare and bowled everyone over, critics and audience alike. One British critic even suggested that she had managed the minor miracle of putting ‘the sex into Sussex’.

Behind the scenes she was having a similar impact – she went on to marry Gus Christie, third-generation owner and executive chairman of Glyndebourne Festival Opera.  Their marriage echoes his grandfather, John Christie, who built the first opera house at Glyndebourne in 1934 for his Canadian wife, the soprano Audrey Mildmay.

In a gorgeous programme spanning classical opera and musical theatre, the charismatic de Niese will demonstrate the full range of her vocal talent and show why The New York Times declared her voice ‘seductive enough to woo gods as well as mortals’.

 

Tickets: €20‒€45 (conc. €18‒€40.50)
Booking: 01 417 0000, nch.ie or rte.ie/co
No booking fees apply. 10% discount for groups of 10 or more.

 

 David Arnold
As part of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra Signature Series 2015
Thursday 22 January, 8pm
National Concert Hall
RTÉ Concert Orchestra & New Dublin Voices
Nicholas Dodd conductor

One of today’s biggest names in film/TV composing, Grammy and Emmy winner David Arnold makes his Irish début when he joins the RTÉ Concert Orchestra for one night only, featuring on piano, vocals and guitar. Arnold has only just made his world concert début – in July 2014 in the Royal Festival Hall in London – so the RTÉ Concert Orchestra is particularly proud to be bringing him to Dublin to perform this brand new show.

 Marking his amazing track record as a Bond composer, Arnold, the RTÉ CO and guest chorus will perform music from his scores to Tomorrow Never Dies, Casino Royale, The World is Not Enough and Quantum of Solace. The audience will also be treated to music from Stargate, Godzilla, Independence Day and The Stepford Wives (which he thinks is one of the best things he has done). There will be a suite from TV’s Sherlock, which he composes with Michael Price, music he wrote for the London 2012 Olympic Games and lots more.

David Arnold inherited the Bond mantle from John Barry, who was impressed by Arnold’s album of his own versions of Bond themes. For Arnold, a childhood 007 fan, this was a dream gig. Barry recommended him to the producer of Tomorrow Never Dies and he went on to score that and four more Bond films.

When his soundtrack to The Young Americans caught Hollywood’s attention 20 years ago, Arnold was flown out to Los Angeles to meet Roland Emmerich, who was about to direct Stargate. As he recalls: ‘I pitched him my idea of the Stargate music, which was basically Star Wars meets Lawrence of Arabia. Two weeks later they rang me and offered me the job.’ From there he went on to score the $800m-grossing Independence Day and to forge one of the biggest careers in the business. Even so, the achievement he is most proud of is his collaboration with his second cousin Damien Rice. Rice’s debut album O was turned down everywhere – Arnold financed it and it went on to sell millions!

A rare chance for film music fans, and a night not to be missed.

Tickets: €20‒€45 (conc. €18‒€40.50)
Booking: 01 417 0000, nch.ie or rte.ie/co
No booking fees apply. 10% discount for groups of 10 or more.

 

 Declan O’Rourke
Thursday 12 February, 8pm, University Concert Hall, Limerick
Friday 13 February, 8pm, Leisureland, Galway
Saturday 14 February, 8pm, National Concert Hall
RTÉ Concert Orchestra
David Brophy conductor

 ‘a sorcerer of songs’ ‒ Hot Press (2012)

‘He writes the sort of classic songs that people don’t write anymore, songs that sound like they’ve been around forever’ ‒ Paul Weller, MOJO (2012)

Declan O’Rourke and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra make for a winning collaboration. They are back together by popular demand after a sold-out concert at the National Concert Hall last year, this time performing in Limerick and Galway as well as Dublin.

O’Rourke has won international acclaim. His song Galileo has been covered by everyone from Josh Groban to Eddi Reader, who considers him ‘one of the finest songwriters on the planet’. Other plaudits have come from the likes of Snow Patrol and Kate Rusby as well as DJs Jonathan Ross and Edith Bowman.

A multi-platinum artist, O’Rourke released Mag Pai Zai, his third album, on his own Rimecoat label in 2011. Topping the success of his first two albums, Since Kyabram and Big Bad Beautiful World, it held its own in Ireland’s Top 10 Album Chart for four consecutive weeks.

Catch one of the finest Irish performers of our time in full flight with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra under conductor David Brophy.

 Booking
Thursday 12 February, 8pm, University Concert Hall, Limerick
Tickets: €25 (service charges apply)
Booking: 061 331549 or www.uch.ie

 Friday 13 February, 8pm, Leisureland, Galway
Booking details TBA.

 Saturday 14 February, 8pm, National Concert Hall
Tickets: €15‒€45 (conc. €13‒€41)
Booking:
01 417 0000, nch.ie or rte.ie/co
No booking fees apply. 10% discount for groups of 10 or more.

 

 Strike up the Band: The Gershwins in Hollywood
Wednesday 18 February, 8pm
National Concert Hall
RTÉ Concert Orchestra
John Wilson conductor
Vocalists Kim Criswell and Matthew Ford

‘I don’t think there’s been such an inspired melodist on this earth since Tchaikovsky.’ – Leonard Bernstein

Composer George and lyricist Ira Gershwin created some of the greatest hits that ever shaped Hollywood and some of the most memorable songs of the 20th century.

After dropping out of school at age 15, George Gershwin played in New York nightclubs and worked as a ‘song-plugger’ on New York’s Tin Pan Alley, playing and singing to promote a music publisher’s songs. Both George and older brother Ira had some early success with other partners, including George’s ‘Swannee’, with lyrics by Irvin Caesar, which became a massive hit for Al Jolson. In a sense, this song subsidised what followed. It became the biggest-selling song of George Gershwin’s career and the money he earned from it allowed him to concentrate on theatre work and films later.

 This evening we celebrate the legendary songwriting team and Broadway career that began in 1924 when George and Ira collaborated on the hit musical Lady Be Good. With George’s inspired melodies and Ira’s witty lyrics, this partnership would elevate the musical comedy to an American art form. Together they wrote Oh, Kay! (1926), Funny Face (1927), Strike Up the Band (1927 & 1930), Girl Crazy (1930), and Of Thee I Sing (1931) – the first musical to win a Pulitzer Prize. Their incredibly rich legacy includes so many standards of the Great American Songbook that it’s difficult to believe they were all produced before George died suddenly at the age of 38 after unsuccessful surgery to treat a brain tumour.

Joining John Wilson and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra to do full justice to this glorious music are star vocalists Kim Criswell and Matthew Ford. Get ready for an evening packed with classics like Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off, I Got Rhythm, The Man I Love, Strike Up the Band, Shall We Dance? and many more.

Tickets: €15‒€39.50 (conc. €13‒€36.50)
Booking: 01 417 0000, nch.ie or rte.ie/co
No booking fees apply. 10% discount for groups of 10 or more.

 

 Essential Classics
Thursday 26 February, 8pm
National Concert Hall
RTÉ Concert Orchestra
John Wilson conductor
Geraldine O’Doherty harp
Flute TBA

Mozart Overture to The Marriage of Figaro  
Mozart Concerto for Flute and Harp
Mozart Symphony No. 40 in G minor

It’s hard to think of a classical composer that has captured the public imagination like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. His life as a child prodigy, his money troubles and his early death have been mythologised and he has become an icon of genius, his name a byword for mastery. Hear why in this celebration of his music by John Wilson and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra.

To open, the overture to his comic opera The Marriage of Figaro, full of bubbling high spirits and wit. The Principal Flute and Principal Harp of the RTÉ CO take centre stage for his Concerto for Flute and Harp, and we end with the angst and beauty of his famous Symphony No. 40.

 As a child prodigy, Mozart had taken Paris by storm. Returning in his early twenties, it was harder for him to find work – he had to teach composition and take whatever commissions he could get. A duke wanted this Concerto for Flute and Harp (favourite instruments of the French) for himself and his daughter to perform, and Mozart, keen to find a patron among the nobility, jumped at the chance. Both players were amateurs but Mozart wrote to his father that ‘the Duc de Guines plays the flute extremely well, and his daughter plays the harp magnificently’. While not a particular fan of either instrument, he created for them a charming concerto, full of gorgeous melodies. In fact the Viennese composer Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf commented, ‘I have never yet met a composer who had such an amazing wealth of ideas: I could almost wish he were not so lavish in using them. He leaves his hearer out of breath; for hardly has he grasped one beautiful thought when one of greater fascination dispels the first, and this goes on throughout.’

Sadly, as so often in his life, Mozart’s luck was out. He ended up deciding that the duke’s daughter was ‘not only thoroughly stupid, but also thoroughly lazy’, it’s not clear that she and her father ever performed the concerto, and the duke never paid up for the commission!

Symphony No. 40, often called the Great G minor, is one of Mozart’s final three symphonies, all written in a blaze in the summer of 1788, just three years before his early death. One of a handful of his works to capture the romantic imagination, this darkly dramatic masterpiece was played and admired even at times when his reputation was at its lowest.

His circumstances at the time he wrote it were grim. There were strains in his marriage, his popularity was waning, and his finances were in such a state that he was begging loans from friends. To one he wrote: ‘Black thoughts . . . often come to me, thoughts that I push away with a tremendous effort.’ Some musicologists have seen these ‘black thoughts’ reflected in this symphony. Alfred Einstein called the first and last movements ‘plunges into the abyss of the soul’ and Charles Rosen called it ‘a work of passion, violence and grief’, though Robert Schumann found only ‘weightless, Hellenic grace’ in the piece.

Like Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, it opens with one of music’s most famous gestures, quiet pulsing violas then an urgent, unsettling theme on violins. Unlike Beethoven’s declamatory opening, however, this one sounds almost as if we are dropping into a work midstream. This opening of Symphony No. 40 has survived use in films, television, advertising, even ringtones to retain all its magic and power in live performance.   As Michael Steinberg described the musical journey, the first movement of the symphony raises questions and opens abysses, while the finale ‘seeks to close wounds, and brings the voyager safely – if bruised – into port’.

Tickets: €11‒€38 (conc. €10‒€35)
Booking: 01 417 0000, nch.ie or rte.ie/co
No booking fees apply. 10% discount for groups of 10 or more.

 

 Disco Inferno!
Wednesday 4 March, 8pm
National Concert Hall
RTÉ Concert Orchestra
Andy O’Callaghan conductor
Celebration Singers 

Disco mania has been known to make 1200-strong audiences lose their inhibitions and dance in the auditorium aisles as if no one is watching!

You can expect the greatest hits from the Bee Gees, Abba, Isaac Hayes, Elton John, Donna Summer, Barbra Streisand and more, all in Andy O’Callaghan’s terrific arrangements and performed in irresistible style by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and Celebration Singers. 

Tickets: €11‒€38 (conc. €10‒€35)
Booking: 01 417 0000, nch.ie or rte.ie/co
No booking fees apply. 10% discount for groups of 10 or more.

Heroes in Hollywood
Wednesday 11 March, 8pm
National Concert Hall
RTÉ Concert Orchestra
Richard Kaufman conductor

Everyone needs a superhero!

Emmy-nominated movie maestro Richard Kaufman has drawn on his career at MGM to bring Hollywood’s boldest and bravest heroes to life. This evening will feature music by film-composing legends like John Barry, Jerry Goldsmith, Dimitri Tiomkin, Elmer Bernstein, John Williams and Danny Elfman.

Kaufman and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra will provide the scintillating live experience of film themes that many of us were raised on. Music from Star Trek, Spiderman, Batman, The Pink Panther, Young Sherlock Holmes, Robin Hood, The Magnificent Seven, Mary Poppins, 633 Squadron, Dances with Wolves, Austin Powers and more.

Tickets: €11‒€38 (conc. €10‒€35)
Booking: 01 417 0000, nch.ie or rte.ie/co
No booking fees apply. 10% discount for groups of 10 or more.

 

Essential Classics
Wednesday 18 March, 8pm
National Concert Hall
RTÉ Concert Orchestra
John Wilson conductor
Eldbjørg Hemsing violin

Wagner Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nüremberg
Mendelssohn Violin Concerto
Elgar Enigma Variations

The latest in the popular Essential Classics series from John Wilson and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra opens in rousing style with the majestic, celebratory Prelude to Wagner’s opera  Die Meistersinger von Nüremberg /The Mastersingers of Nuremberg.

Making her début with the RTÉ CO is violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing, re­garded as one of Scandinavia’s most promis­ing young artists and described by the Oslo Phil­har­monic as ‘a sen­sa­tional new­comer on the Nor­we­gian mu­sic scene!’ Whether per­forming Bach with Bobby Mc­Fer­rin, giving a recital at the Wigmore Hall or playing concertos with a host of international orchestras, she wins praise for her abil­ity to con­nect with au­di­ences, making her an ideal partner for the RTÉ CO and John Wilson.

She joins them to perform Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, full of beautiful, memorable  melodies. Joseph Joachim, one of the greatest violinists of the 19th century, performed this concerto to acclaim as a child prodigy. Towards the end of his life, at his 75th birthday, he said: ‘The Germans have four violin concertos. The greatest, the one that makes fewest concessions, is Beethoven’s. The one by Brahms comes close to Beethoven’s in its seriousness. Max Bruch wrote the richest and most enchanting of the four. But the dearest of them all, the heart’s jewel, is Mendelssohn’s.’

Elgar’s beloved Enigma Variations is a series of affectionate musical portraits of family and friends – and the boisterous bulldog of one of his friends! Whether or not the listener knows the background story doesn’t matter. As the composer wrote: ‘it’s a quaint idee & the result is amusing to those behind the scenes & won’t affect the hearer who “nose nuffin”.’ At the heart of the piece is the spellbinding ‘Nimrod’, composed for Elgar’s great friend, champion, and publisher A.J. Jaeger. ‘Jaeger’, German for ‘hunter’, becomes ‘Nimrod the mighty hunter’ from the Book of Genesis. Its swelling build from a gentle opening to a triumphant climax and serene resolution has made it an audience favourite everywhere.

These are masterpieces that everyone should hear live, performed brilliantly by the RTÉ CO and John Wilson.

Tickets: €11‒€38 (conc. €10‒€35)
Booking: 01 417 0000, nch.ie or rte.ie/co
No booking fees apply. 10% discount for groups of 10 or more.

 

Essential Classics
Wednesday 25 March, 8pm
National Concert Hall
RTÉ Concert Orchestra
John Wilson conductor
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet piano
RTÉ Contempo Quartet

Eric Coates Dancing Nights: Concert Valse
Ravel Piano Concerto in G Major
Vaughan Williams Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis (Tallis Fantasia)
Gershwin An American in Paris

Ravel provides both the concerto masterpiece and a uniting theme for this evening’s concert.

Eric Coates met Ravel – his favourite composer – in 1924, introduced to him over lunch in the Ritz while Ravel was performing in England. Coates recalled that they had to communicate mainly in sign language, but the encounter nevertheless left its mark on him as a composer, leading him to integrate jazz into his orchestral music. John Wilson is a Coates expert and opens the evening with his sparkling concert waltz Dancing Nights.

Vaughan Williams studied with Ravel in Paris for three months in 1908. These lessons, which Vaughan Williams called his ‘French polish’, contributed colour and clarity to his music and a lightness of touch to his orchestration. They also led to a lifelong friendship.

Perhaps the most famous connection is that between Gershwin and Ravel. They met in 1928 in New York, where Ravel was very struck by the jazz he heard and found Gershwin’s music in particular intriguing. The story goes that Gershwin wanted to study with Ravel, who turned him down saying, ‘Why do you want to become a second-rate Ravel when you are already a first-rate Gershwin?’ Then, on hearing how much money Gershwin made, Ravel wryly suggested that maybe it should be the other way around and he should study with Gershwin. As it happened, the two composers would later die within five months of each other, both following unsuccessful brain operations.

 The influences of Gershwin and jazz can be clearly felt in Ravel’s gorgeous Piano Concerto in G Major. In between two brilliant outer movements is the slowly unfolding, sublimely beautiful Adagio, of which Ravel said: ‘That flowing phrase! How I worked over it bar by bar! It nearly killed me!’

Joining the RTÉ CO to bring it to life is one of the most engaging performers of his generation, French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, described as ‘a fascinating artist’ by The New York Times.

Voted third in Classic FM’s 2014 Hall of Fame, Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, or the Tallis Fantasia, has been borrowed time and again for films and TV shows. Vaughan Williams came across the Thomas Tallis tune, written in 1567, before his studies in Paris but composed the Fantasia afterwards, and the piece shows the benefit of Ravel’s influence in its orchestration. The orchestra is split into three groups, responding to and echoing each other, creating a halo of sound: a large orchestra, a smaller band of nine players and a string quartet – this evening the RTÉ Contempo Quartet.

The year 1928 is also significant in tonight’s programme. First Ravel was inspired by jazz in New York, then later in the year Gershwin was inspired by a visit to France to compose An American in Paris. The programme note for the first performance sets the scene: ‘You are to imagine an American, visiting Paris, swinging down the Champs-Elysées on a mild, sunny morning in May or June . . .’ The music goes on to conjure up a bustling boulevard before a slow, bluesy trumpet tune (close to a theme in the first movement of the Ravel concerto) suggests that this American is having a bout of homesickness. The dreamy mood is swept away by a Charleston and by the end the boulevard has won. A nod to the blues tips a hat to America but the French atmosphere is triumphant – we end the piece and tonight’s Essential Classics trip firmly in Paris!

Tickets: €11‒€38 (conc. €10‒€35)
Booking: 01 417 0000, nch.ie or rte.ie/co
No booking fees apply. 10% discount for groups of 10 or more.