RTÉ Concert Orchestra
Principal Conductor John Wilson
Conductor Laureate Proinnsías Ó Duinn
Artist in Residence Brian Byrne
The RTÉ Concert Orchestra prides itself on its accessibility to all, its dynamic programming and its non-confinement to any one genre. With no two RTÉ CO audiences ever the same, it is as likely to be found performing Messiah for Pope Benedict XVI (2009) as captivating a festival of Wellington-booted teenagers at the Electric Picnic Festival (2010). Often thought of as the 'gateway' orchestra, it has been introducing orchestral music to new audiences since 1948.
Performing to the world in seven Eurovision Song Contests, the RTÉ CO played in that electrifying seven-minute interval performance that gave birth to Riverdance (1994) and went on to record the phenomenally successful CD. Now, 19 years later, the RTÉ CO has recorded the orchestral track to Heartbeat of Home, the new show by the producers of Riverdance.
Having shared stages with such greats as Pavarotti and Lang Lang, jazz legends like Lalo Schifrin and Cleo Laine, rock musicians like Jon Lord of Deep Purple, operatic pop groups like Il Divo and international stars like Billy Ocean, the RTÉ CO has also collaborated with top Irish acts like Colm Wilkinson, Altan, Sharon Shannon, Duke Special, Declan O'Rourke, The Coronas, Bell X1, Horslips, Sinéad O'Connor, Imelda May and Lúnasa. The RTÉ CO has played for ballet performances with International Leisure & Arts and for many years was in the pit for Opera Ireland. In recent years the orchestra has performed in Lyric Opera and Northern Ireland Opera productions, as well as presenting many of its own concert performances of opera and light opera.
Film credits for the RTÉ CO include Albert Nobbs by Brian Byrne, recently appointed as the orchestra's first Artist in Residence. The soundtrack saw Byrne announced as Discovery of the Year at the 2012 World Soundtrack Awards and won the IFTA for Original Score. The song Lay Your Head Down from the film, performed by Sinéad O'Connor and the RTÉ CO, earned a Golden Globe nomination and won Best Original Song in the World Soundtrack Awards. Other film work includes Byrne's The Island, Irish Destiny by Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin and The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse by Joby Talbot. The RTÉ CO recently recorded music for Patrick Cassidy's score to Calvary and Byrne's soundtrack to indie film The Queen of Carthage, featuring rising star Shiloh Fernandez.
The RTÉ CO recorded Brian Byrne's first classical album, with artists including Nicola Benedetti and Danielle de Niese. Tales from the Walled City was released on Decca in 2012.
In April 2013, the legendary French film composer, five-time Grammy winner and triple Oscar winner Michel Legrand recorded his latest album with the RTÉ CO.
A recent engagement of the RTÉ CO has been the development of a popular series of film screenings with live performance of the orchestral score. Highlights have included performing Howard Shore's scores live to all three epic films in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in 2011, The Two Towers in The O2 Arena, Dublin in 2012 and The Return of the King in The O2 Arena in 2013. In April 2013 the RTÉ CO performed the Irish première screening of Singin' in the Rain with orchestra, introduced by Patricia Ward Kelly, wife of the late Gene Kelly.
On top of all that, the RTÉ CO has featured in recent years as the 'house orchestra' on RTÉ TV's The Late Late Show, including for the show's 50th celebrations in 2012. In 2012 the RTÉ CO featured in Instrumental, a reality TV programme on RTÉ One. The orchestra performed with the finalists of RTÉ One's The Hit at The O2, Dublin in August 2013.
The RTÉ CO is dedicated to reaching tens of thousands of young people nationwide every year through the RTÉ/The Irish Times Music in the Classroom series, through which it has been gifting the magic of orchestral music to children for 25 years.
'All the members of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra are great artists individually - put together you can imagine. Dublin is very fortunate to have an orchestra of this calibre.' - Movie/jazz legend Lalo Schifrin