Mark Redmond is both flute and uilleann pipes soloist for the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra Live performance this Friday, 25 September - watch it here on RTÉ Culture from 7 pm.

On the night, Redmond is the flute soloist in Óileán by Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, on uilleann pipes in Ó Súilleabháin's Bean Dubh an Ghleanna and in Neil Martin’s new imaginings of three traditional airs: The Fairy Queen, Danny Boy and The Humours of Ballyloughlin.

Below, Mark introduces the evening's proceedings...

September 2020 is certainly a different world to that of September 2019. This month last year, I sat in the hot seat for the duration of the opening concert of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra’s season, The Music of Shaun Davey - a truly spectacular evening. If Carlsberg did gigs, from an uilleann piper’s perspective, that was it!

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Listen: Mark Redmond talks to RTÉ Arena

The first half featured the premiere of Shaun’s Hymn to a Setting Sun, a work dedicated to the memory of the late great Liam O’Flynn.

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Shaun, and his musical family, then took to the stage for the remainder of the first half performing his best-known works. The concert ended with The Brendan Voyage Suite, in all its glory.

As you can see, space on stage, and beyond, was well in demand on the night. So, a year later, after a period which could be referred to as 'The Great Silence', space is now a crucial necessity to carry out live performances.

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Consequently, compositions for the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra Live concert series were selected to fit the space of a scaled-down RTÉ NSO and now, thankfully, after what seemed like an impossibility, this concert will go ahead with a programme including four arrangements of Irish traditional melodies by Irish composers Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin and Neil Martin.

Composer and arranger Neil Martin with Martin Redmond

Neil, who has also contributed greatly to this growing musical field of composing/arranging for uilleann pipes and orchestra, is a great friend who I have known and performed with many times over the last decade. The late Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, who I only met once in 2011, when we performed at the Convention Centre for Queen Elizabeth II, had developed extensive working relationships with numerous uilleann pipers over the years (coincidentally, including Neil Martin). One outcome of his fruitful collaborations with pipers was his arrangement of Bean Dubh an Ghleanna, performed by Liam O’Flynn. Another great work of his, Oileán/Island, will also be performed on Friday - a fitting tribute to the great man's memory.

Watch The RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra Live here on RTÉ Culture on Friday, 25th September from 7 pm.