One of Europe’s most lauded chamber ensembles are bringing an imaginative evening of iconic American music to Galway this June.
Under the leadership of Director Katherine Hunka, the Irish Chamber Orchestra (ICO) is one of Ireland’s busiest touring ensembles.
She says people can expect “vibrant performances” from their ‘America’ tour when it comes to the Town Hall Theatre next Saturday, 17 June.
The show, which aims to showcase iconic American music, will feature work from musical giants George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein alongside classical composers John Adams and Argentinean legend Astor Piazzolla.
The programme has kaleidoscopic appeal, journeying from the highs of Bernstein’s rousing West Side Story to the poignancy of Barber’s Adagio for Strings, one of the most familiar yet solemn and evocative pieces of American music on offer, and from the wilds of Piazzolla’s Buenos Aires tango music to the minimalism that is Adams’s creative Shaker Loops.
But Katherine is keen to point out that the gig is not just for people interested in classical music, but everyone.
“Whatever kind of music you’re into there’ll be something in this evening for you because we’re playing so many different styles,” she adds.
The ICO has placed a firm stamp on the European map in recent years. They have completed the second year of a three-year Residency at the Heidelberger Frühling festival, the largest music festival in South Germany which ranks among the top international festivals for classical music.
Earlier this year they undertook a four-day European tour to Blaibach, Neumarkt, Brussels and Freiburg and made their debut at the prestigious Vienna Konzerthaus for two nights, becoming the first Irish orchestra to ever perform there.
But it seems home is where the heart is for the Chamber Orchestra with Katherine saying performing on home soil is their “favourite thing to do”.
“It’s lovely to travel the country and we meet such great people and we tend to get a lovely mixture of people to the concerts, like in the smaller places kids will come and even animals. We’ve had dogs at our concerts!”
The ICO relocated to the University of Limerick in 1995 and has anchored itself firmly at the heart of the college ever since with its own unique purpose built studio.
Katherine describes the University Concert Hall as “one of the nicest places to play in the country”.
And she says playing in Ireland is “really refreshing”.
“Obviously performing abroad is important to the orchestra as well but my heart is really with the Irish tours,” she adds.
As well as Galway, the ICO will also perform in venues nationwide including Navan, Dublin and Monaghan this month.
Although rehearsals are in full swing this week, Katherine says there is a lot of spontaneity with each performance changing slightly from night to night.
“Every night it would be different. There’s a big element of spontaneity, you never know what’s going to happen when you go on stage but that’s the fun of it.”
The orchestra has cemented itself as one of the country’s finest cultural ambassadors, priding itself on its diverse approach to music, of which Katherine is extremely proud.
“As a group we’re always striving to do more and that keeps us on our toes. The day that we rest on our laurels is really the death of any art so as artists we have to keep seeing what we can do differently and what we can do better.”
The Irish Chamber Orchestra play the Town Hall Theatre, Galway on Saturday 17 June at 8pm. Tickets are on sale from www.tht.ie or by calling the box office on 091-569777. Tickets are €20/€18.
ABOVE: Members of the Irish Chamber Orchestra.