Of course it’s not as simple as taking a seat at the National Concert Hall versus waving your hands in the air (like you don’t care) in the grounds of a stately home in Stradbally.

But the recent collaboration between the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and DJ Jenny Greene does provide a handy shorthand to explain the difference between the two full time orchestras currently under the care of the national broadcaster.

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Both were established 70 years ago, but while the National Symphony Orchestra draws its repertoire from a centuries old classical tradition, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra - originally a 'light' orchestra - has a broad remit playing everything from classical music to movie soundtracks right up to the aforementioned collaboration with Jenny Greene that has been packing out festival tents and other concert venues around the country. Of course, as well as playing to audiences, the RTÉ orchestras are also the means by which elite classical musicians can learn and develop as professionals here. Children around the country who are learning music in school, privately or through groups like Music Network can also look to the national orchestras as a place to learn from or maybe one day aspire to playing with.

RTÉ has a statutory remit to establish and maintain performing groups, and  last year the broadcaster asked former BBC executive Helen Boaden to carry out a review of the NSO and the Concert Orchestra, saying it wanted to look at the best way of providing ‘high quality and sustainable’ orchestral services to the public. But RTE’s current financial difficulties are well known and rumors have been rife in the music world that it plans to merge the orchestras or do away with one altogether.

This issue has been debated in the Dail with Labour’s Joan Burton describing the orchestras as ‘an intrinsic part of our culture’ - she also accused RTÉ of working systematically to downgrade the number ofpeople working in them.Meanwhile SIPTU and the Musicians Union of Ireland have warned RTÉ that any attempt to unilaterally change structures or terms and conditions with the orchestras could trigger ‘significant opposition’.

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But keeping the orchestras is not just a question of ambition; money plays a central role. RTÉ is currently undergoing a restructuring process and has made it clear that tough financial decisions will have to be made. Orchestras cost money, as well as employing musicians they have to invest in touring and marketing if they are to grow and thrive, rather than stagnate. There is no point in having any orchestra if no one is able to hear them play.

So can RTÉ afford two healthy orchestras, and if not, what is to become of them? A merger has been suggested in some quarters, however some musicians claim that given the groups' diverse briefs, this would place too many demands on a small pool of players. Disbanding an entire performing group would be a huge loss to the cultural life of the country. A third possibility is that the NSO be separated from RTÉ, a proposal  first made as far back as the mid '90s in the marvelously titled ‘Piano Report’ which also proposed a greater role for the National Concert hall.

The RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra

But then we come back to finance again. A standalone National Symphony Orchestra would also need funding, for development as well as maintenance. If RTÉ can't provide it, then who will? Is there the political will to pay for it through central government, or could funds be provided via another cultural body?

More will be known when RTÉ examines the details in this new report, but musicians and music lovers here are hoping that it will contain concrete, realistic proposals for the future of the performing groups and that one or both of the national orchestras won’t be allowed to fade away, without even a cymbal crash to signal their passing.