Tuesday 17 September 2019

The most musical night of the year

ClassicTalk with George Hamilton

Culture night: American conductor Leonard Slatkin will perform with The RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra at the National Concert Hall, Dublin
Culture night: American conductor Leonard Slatkin will perform with The RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra at the National Concert Hall, Dublin

George Hamilton

Next Friday, for one night only, there's a really easy way to get your culture fix. It's Culture Night, an all-island extravaganza with over 4,000 events to choose from - and the wonderful thing is, it's all free.

From light shows to poetry readings, theatre to dance, and, of course, music aplenty, there'll be something to take your fancy.

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Wexford is well established as the home of opera in Ireland, and it's there you'll find an intriguing collage of vocal music stretching right across the evening.

First on stage at the National Opera House at 7.30pm is the local a capella group, Cairde, nine singers who've only been together for a couple of years, but who've carved a niche for themselves with their colourful collection of songs.

Music from the end of the Renaissance through Ravel to Radiohead will be followed at 9pm by a selection of favourites from the musicals, presented by the Wexford Light Opera Society.

No more than a two-minute walk away, there's a concert starting from 6.30pm promising a whole variety of melodic enjoyment in St Iberius Church. It's not often you'll find sea shanties and Gospel on the same programme.

If you happen to be in the vicinity of Cashel on Friday night, there will be sweet sounds to entice you to the local library from 8pm. Liz Ryan and Mary Flaherty from the Drawing Room Opera Company are bringing together songs from a rich repertoire - Mozart, Bellini and Puccini on the one hand, Irving Berlin, Rodgers and Hammerstein on the other.

Those centres of excellence, the CIT Cork School of Music and the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin, will be making their contributions to Culture Night.

In Cork, the concert at 7pm will showcase students who'll be taking part in the Irish Freemasons Young Musician of the Year competition in Dublin next month.

In Westland Row in the capital, there'll be what the Academy describes as "a fun, informal and highly-engaging evening of entertainment" from 5.30pm.

Over in the Liberties, in St Catherine's Church on Meath Street, you can sample the musical excellence of An Garda Síochána Male Voice Choir from 7.30pm.

Across the river, at the National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks, RTÉ is hosting an open-air event. Live music, the spoken word, and dance all come together from 7.30pm. The RTÉ Concert Orchestra will be centre stage, with solo artists headlined by soprano Celine Byrne.

As ever, Friday night is music night in the National Concert Hall, and for the night that's in it, there's a lot more than the regular 7.30pm show.

There are percussion workshops, and you'll hear a pop-up choir before the main event.

The RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra welcomes as its guest the great American conductor Leonard Slatkin, who celebrated his 75th birthday earlier this month at a baseball game, throwing left-handed the ceremonial first pitch for his team, the St Louis Cardinals.

It'll be his conducting arm, his right, he'll be using when he takes charge of a programme that includes one of his own compositions - Kinah - which features themes employed by Brahms in his Double Concerto, and music by Brahms himself, the magnificent Fourth Symphony.

George Hamilton presents 'The Hamilton Scores' on RTÉ lyric fm from 10am each Saturday and Sunday.

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