Conductor Laureate Proinnsías Ó Duinn
Artist in Residence Brian Byrne
Leader Mia Cooper
Introducing orchestral music to new audiences since 1948, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra has built a strong connection with the public that saw it named the World’s Favourite Orchestra 2015, winning 25% of the vote in an international poll. The orchestra is committed to an eclectic range of programming across various genres, meaning that no two RTÉ CO audiences are ever the same.
It is as likely to be found presenting the world premiere of Mise Éire with live performance of Ó Riada’s score in the presence of the President Michael D. Higgins (2016) as performing live to an audience of nine thousand at the 3Arena with RTÉ 2fm’s Jenny Greene (2016) or playing with John Grant and Walking on Cars on RTÉ TV’s The Late Late Show (2016) or reaching tens of thousands of young people nationwide through the Music in the Classroom series over the past quarter-century.
The RTÉ CO has performed with countless extraordinary artists across all genres. From the classical world, Pavarotti, Domingo, Carreras, Gheorghiu and Lang Lang; film and stage composers including Lalo Schifrin, Michel Legrand, David Arnold and Marvin Hamlisch; stars of jazz and musical theatre like Michael Feinstein, Cleo Laine and Kurt Elling. Even a quick roll call of the orchestra’s collaborations with Irish artists gives a flavour of the range and calibre: Colm Wilkinson, Altan, Sharon Shannon, Duke Special, Declan O’Rourke, The Coronas, Bell X1, Horslips, Sinéad O’Connor, Imelda May and Lúnasa.
In 2009 the orchestra performed Handel’s Messiah for Pope Benedict IX in the Vatican; remarkably this was the first ever performance in the Holy See.
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. Twenty years later the RTÉ CO recorded the orchestral track to Heartbeat of Home, from the producers of Riverdance.
Film credits for the RTÉ CO include Ooops! Noah is Gone (2014) and Norm of the North (2016) by Stephen McKeon, Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie (2014) by Andy O’Callaghan and Albert Nobbs by Brian Byrne, the orchestra’s first Artist in Residence. The soundtrack to Albert Nobbs 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. The RTÉ CO also recorded music for Patrick Cassidy’s score to Calvary – nominated for a World Soundtrack Award – and Byrne’s soundtrack to indie films The Queen of Carthage and The Price of Desire. The RTÉ CO recorded Stephen Rennicks’ score to the Oscar® and BAFTA-winning Room and Joseph Trapanese’s score to The Siege of Jadotville, released on Netflix (both 2016).
The RTÉ CO featured on Brian Byrne’s first classical album, Tales from the Walled City, with artists including Nicola Benedetti and Danielle de Niese, released on Decca in 2012, and on Goldenhair, his album of James Joyce settings, released in 2017. Other recordings in recent years have included an album with the legendary French film composer, five-time Grammy winner and triple Oscar® winner Michel Legrand, Joe Dolan Orchestrated vol. 1, Declan O’Rourke’s In Full Colour and Howard Shore’s A Palace Upon The Ruins.
The RTÉ CO has developed 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 3Arena in 2012 and The Return of the King in 3Arena in 2013. The RTÉ CO performed the world première screening of Vertigo with orchestra in 2013, and other live screenings included Brief Encounter, The Godfather, Disney’s Fantasia Live, Back to the Future, Mise Éire, Aliens, Raiders of The Lost Ark, Peter and the Wolf, Independence Day and the European première of An American in Paris.
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 the show’s 50th celebrations in 2012 and an acclaimed appearance in January 2016. The RTÉ CO featured in Instrumental (2012), a reality TV programme on RTÉ One. The orchestra performed with the finalists of RTÉ One’s The Hit in 3Arena, Dublin in 2013 and featured in the Tyrone Productions documentary for RTÉ One, The High Hopes Choir and Classic Joe Dolan (2016)
‘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