Paul Herriott writes for Culture about the new season of The Lyric Concert, which kicks off this weekend at The National Concert Hall - you can also listen to it live on RTÉ lyric fm, and watch it on RTÉ Culture

Read the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra 2018-2019 programme here.

September is always an exciting time as regards The Lyric Concert. With the first promise of Autumn looming comes - among other beginnings - the start of the new season for the RTE National Symphony Orchestra, and 2018/19 looks like one of the most exciting to date, kicking off on Friday 14th September with Mahler’s almighty 'Resurrection' Symphony No.2. Soprano Orla Boylan and mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston join the RTE Philharmonic Choir for this one, and the orchestra will be directed by Robert Travino.

Soprano Orla Boylan

It’s a golden year at The Lyric Concert for young virtuoso perfumers who take their place alongside, quite simply, some of the very finest in the world, from the brilliant young Swiss pianist Louis Schwizgebel, who joins the orchestra for Gershwin’s stunning and much loved Rhapsody in Blue, through to one of our own greatest musical figures, Barry Douglas - not to mention the 60th birthday celebrations for another of our finest pianists, Hugh Tinney, who joins the orchestra for an all-Beethoven programme in November.

WATCH: Alina Ibragimova plays Bach's Partita No. 2 in D minor

Elsewhere, there are violinists abound this season, again representing every era. The stunning Alina Ibragimova made an unforgettable impression on the stage of the Royal Albert Hall just a few years back when she performed all the Bach Partitas as part of the BBC Proms season that year - in May 2019, she returns to Ireland and joins the orchestra for the Violin Concerto by Richard Strauss.

The orchestra will on that occasion be conducted by the great Leonard Slatkin, no less - a sell-out, no doubt, along with the return of the great Russian violinist Maxim Vengerov, who continues his annual association with the RTE NSO in March as both conductor and performer. On the question of conductors, Nathalie Stuzmann continues her own reign as Principal Guest Conductor, beginning with a Rossini/Mozart/Dvorak programme on 21st September, for this year's Culture Night celebrations. 

WATCH: Celine Byrne sings Un Bel Di Vedremo

If singers are your priority, then look no further than Bryn Terfel, who joins the orchestra on Friday February 15th 2009, or the bass-baritone Andrew Foster-Williams on January 25th, who along with the RTE Philharmonic will treat us to a night of opera choruses. Celine Byrne heads the cast for a concert performance of Eric Korngold’s sublime Die tote Stadt, one of my personal favourites, and another example of the sheer range of musical diversity that populates this season's calendar.

The good news is that on The Lyric Concert we will be there, live on stage at the NCH in Dublin, every Friday from 7.30, to capture every minute. So remember, whether you happen to be listening at home, or on the road, you’re guaranteed the very best seats in the house. I do hope you’ll join us!

The Lyric Concert, RTÉ lyric FM, Fridays at 7.30pm - listen live on RTÉ lyric fm, or watch the Lyric Concert live here on RTÉ Culture.