‘Our ambition is to invest in the orchestra’: National Symphony Orchestra and Choirs Transfer to the NCH

L to R: Greg Crowley, Martin Johnson, Dee Forbes, Minister Catherine Martin, Ríona Ó Duinnín, Robert Read, and Elaine Clarke (Photo: Maxwell Photography).

‘Our ambition is to invest in the orchestra’: National Symphony Orchestra and Choirs Transfer to the NCH

‘A day of mixed emotions’ for national broadcaster as it loses RTÉ NSO, RTÉ Philharmonic Choir, RTÉ Cór Linn and RTÉ Cór na nÓg.

Minister Catherine Martin has announced that the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and Choirs will formally transfer from RTÉ to the National Concert Hall with effect from Monday 24 January.

The announcement follows the RTÉ Orchestras: Ensuring a Sustainable Future report in 2018 by consultant Helen Boaden which was prompted by RTÉ’s financial difficulties and which recommended the move.

Speaking at the announcement yesterday (19 January), Minister Martin said: 

I am delighted to oversee the transition of the National Symphony Orchestra and Choirs to the National Concert Hall. The NSO will be at the heart of the NCH’s planned redevelopment into a state-of-the-art music campus, facilitating innovation in musical performance, learning, and participation in music. I want to thank RTÉ, the NCH, the NSO, the associated choirs and all support staff for working so hard to ensure a smooth transition. This is a significant red letter day, not only for the musicians involved, but for all those who have an interest in music in Ireland.

The NCH is currently preparing a major venue redevelopment, and the NSO and choirs will form a significant part of its new plans. The Government has provided €8m to enable the transfer.

NCH Chairperson Maura McGrath and CEO Robert Read said that the move will

allow us to strengthen our artistic offering to the Irish public, and enhance our position as the national venue for the performance, appreciation and enjoyment of music in Ireland.  …  Our ambition is to invest in the orchestra, to realise our joint artistic potential, enhancing diversity and accessibility, ensuring orchestral music is a sustainable and integral part of our output.

The RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra was established by RTÉ in 1948. Its year-long programme of concerts at the NCH and other venues across Ireland has been a mainstay of orchestral performance in Ireland. 

Dee Forbes, Director-General of RTÉ, said: 

Today is a day of mixed emotions for us in RTÉ. On the one hand we are delighted that the NSO and Choirs will now be on a firm financial footing within the NCH allowing them to plan with confidence into the future, but on the other, we say goodbye today not just to wonderful musicians and support staff, but to colleagues and friends, many of whom have a long history in RTÉ. 

Anthony Long, General Manager, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and Philharmonic Choir, added:

This is an exciting development: it affords the opportunity to plan and grow with confidence as we all look to the future and work to realise a shared vision for music in Ireland.

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Published on 19 January 2022

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