The program is to feature Irish pianist John O’Conor performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, among other works. O’Conor first gained attention in the United States in 1986 with the release of his complete recorded Beethoven sonata cycle.
The April tour repertoire will include works by Mussorgsky, Stravinsky, Wagner and Brahms.
It won’t be confined to the old classics, however, as the tour will include the U.S. premiere performances of two works by young composers Jane O’Leary and Ian Wilson.
O’Leary, born in Hartford, Conn., now lives in Galway with her family. She studied music at Vassar College and was awarded a PhD in music composition from Princeton University. She was appointed composer-in-residence to the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin in 2000. Her work “From Sea-Grey Shores” was written in 1999 and reflects the landscape and atmosphere of the West Coast of Ireland.
Wilson was born in Belfast in 1964. In 1993, the University of Ulster commissioned his orchestral work “Rise.” He has written over 50 pieces, including concertos for organ and violin, orchestral pieces and six string quartets.
Wilson’s “Rise” draws its inspiration from sources including paintings by Turner and Klee and writings by C.S. Lewis.
The orchestra is the largest of the five performing groups maintained by RTE. Originally a radio orchestra of modest size, it gave its first concert in 1948. Today, as a prominent part of RTE, the orchestra broadcasts live on a weekly basis on Lyric fm, RTE’s classical music and arts radio station.
Assumpta Lawless is the general manager of marketing and communications for the five performing groups of RTE. She was in New York last week to publicize the upcoming trip. “It’s very exciting,” she said. “The musicians are really looking forward to it.”
Lawless said it was an important move for the orchestra. “It will raise our profile here in the states. We will be starting off in West Palm Beach and ending in Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall,” she said.
She added that the NSO’s contribution to the arts will be more valuable than ever in a year when the Arts Council of Ireland lost a large amount of funding through budget cuts.
Lawless admitted that touring with a 89-piece orchestra was an expensive undertaking but said that the NSO was being invited to perform at various venues and that in the long run, it was a financially attractive option for the orchestra.
The tour will be taking place with the support of the Irish Cultural Relations Committee, which provides funding for Irish cultural activities abroad.
The NSO has toured extensively internationally but when asked why it has never come to the U.S. before, Lawless was unsure. “I think it was never realized in terms of the planning,” she said. “Now, everyone is eager to do this.”
The NSO will be appearing on April 2 at 8 p.m. in the Kravis Center, West Palm Beach, Fla.; April 3 at 7:30 p.m. in Florida Southern College, Lakeland, Fla; April 4 at 7:30 p.m. at Community Church, Vero Beach, Fla.; April 5 at 8 p.m. at Bob Carr Performing Arts Center, Orlando; April 6 at 7:30 p.m. at the University of Georiga, Athens; April 8th at 8pm at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, Charlotte, N.C.; April 10 at 7:30 p.m. at the Irvine Auditorium, Philadelphia; April 11 at 8 p.m. at the State Theatre, New Brunswick, N.J.; April 12 at 8 p.m. at the Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Mass., and April 13 at 3 p.m. at Avery Fisher Hall, Manhattan.