Saturday 19 January 2019

Gala concert set to kick off Cork Orchestral Society's 80th anniversary celebrations

Cork soprano Majella Cullagh will lead a star-studded cast

Bill Browne

One of Cork's most venerable musical institutions will open celebrations marking it 80th anniversary with a gala concert at the CIT Curtis Auditorium later on this month.

Internationally acclaimed Cork soprano Majella Cullagh will be among the performers set to grace the stage of the venue on Thursday, September 27 as the Cork Orchestral Society marks eight decades of bringing world class performances to music lovers in the city and county. 

Founded in 1938 by the internationally renowned Irish composer, musicologist, conductor and scholar Aloys Fleischmann, the society has for the past eight decades dedicated itself opening up the world of classical music to new and appreciative audiences. 

Open to members and non-members alike, thanks to the support of the Arts Council and Cork City Council, its concert tickets prices are kept at an affordable price. In fact, the Society regularly stages recitals and events featuring world class artists at a fraction of what it might cost to see them at venues in other cities.

From spellbinding chamber music to spectacular orchestral masterpieces, the Society has continued the legacy left by Fleischmann, providing access to some of the finest musical events ever to grace Leeside. 

The opening concert of its 80th anniversary celebrations promises to continue that legacy, with Denise Crowley & Gabriela Meyer (pianos), David Whitla (double bass) and Viv Johnson (trumpet & piccolo trumpet) joining Majella Culloch on the stage. 

One of the main features of a packed programme will be an aria from Rossini's 'Adelaide di Borgogna'. It will see Cullagh reprise her role as Adelaide from the première of the opera at Edinburgh's Usher Hall in 2005, a performance that was praised by The Guardian as "the combination of thrilling abandon, perfect control and dramatic exactitude."   

Cullagh will also feature in songs for soprano and piano by Reynaldo Hahn with the evening also featuring a song  cycle for voice, trumpet and piano - to cast a shadow again - series of poems by Katherine Gekker, set to music by modern American composer Eric Ewazen. Other high points will be Giovanni Bottesini's exquisite aria, 'Tutto che il mondo serra' - based on Chopin's Etude No.7 in C# minor (Op.25), a selection of modern instrumental pieces,  a piano suite for four hands, 'Kadenza' by Finnish jazz and classical double bassist Teppo Hauta-Aho and a series of sketches for bass and piano by French pianist Serge Lancen entitled 'Croquis'. 

Majella Cullagh said she was looking forward to the evening. "I'm very excited to work with the other soloists on ensemble pieces for double bass and trumpet. I've chosen some Reynaldo Hahn songs for my programme as they are gorgeous pieces and I've always wanted to sing them. I've added an extravagant Rossini aria from to finish with a flourish," she said. 

Other events taking place during the 80th anniversary season will include a piano recital in November 1 with Hugh Tierney and the return to Cork on November 16 of the Irish Chamber Orchestra under the baton of its principal conductor, Jörg Widmann.

For full details of the season and ticket information visit