Classical pursuits: Upcoming events in music, opera and ballet

Cathy Desmond selects the best upcoming events from the worlds of music, opera and ballet.

Classical pursuits: Upcoming events in music, opera and ballet

Cathy Desmond selects the best upcoming events from the worlds of music, opera and ballet.

New Ross Piano Festival

Various venues: September 25-29

Finghin Collins directs New Ross Piano Festival.
Finghin Collins directs New Ross Piano Festival.

The annual piano festival in the riverside Wexford town spreads out from its home base at St Mary’s Church of Ireland to the cosy StMichael’s Theatre.

This year there is a full day of events dedicated to Clara Schumann on the 200th anniversary of her birth. Pianist Barry Douglas comes to the party with his chamber orchestra, Camerata Ireland.

The winner of the 2018 Dublin Piano Competition, Sae Yoon Chon, is among the starry international roster of talent assembled by festival director Finghin Collins. On Thursday the focus is on jazz with performances by the Phil Ware Trio and Welsh born pianist Gwilym Simcock.

Drimoleague Singing Festival

September 27-29

A fledgling festival in the heart of West Cork timed to coincide with the feast of St Finbarr, the local patron saint, Drimoleague Singing Festival features a strong line up of contemporary and traditional Irish and international talent.

Tenor Anthony Kearns, right, is the headline artist; singing sessions and workshops take place in various venues around the village; in the Parish Hall, in pubs, churches and other more unusual venues.

Lisa O’Neill is in conversation about the legendary Traveller singer Margaret Barry. Cork songwriter Jack O’Rourke and the Lost Brothers make up an appealing double bill.

Vivaldi; Griselda

Tours to Galway, Letterkenny,Sligo, Navan, Kilkenny, Limerick,Dun Laoghaire, Oct 12-27

You wait almost three hundred years for an Irish premiere and then two Vivaldi operas arrive together.Dorilla in Tempe is one of the main productions at Wexford Festival while Irish National Opera pip Wexford to the post with another opera from the pen of the Venetian Baroque master. Tom Creed directs Griselda, a tale of high jinks in high places.

Peter Whelan helms the IrishBaroque Orchestra. English soprano Katie Bray who won the audience prize at the 2019 Cardiff Singer stars.

Sheku Kanneh-Mason with the Irish Chamber Orchestra

Drogheda and Limerick: October 23/24

Sheku Kanneh Mason plays with the Irish Chamber Orchestra.
Sheku Kanneh Mason plays with the Irish Chamber Orchestra.

It is quite a coup for the Irish Chamber Orchestra to bag one of Britain’s hottest young rising classical stars for an autumn date.

Cellist Sheku Kanneh Mason made a splash when he won the 2016 BBC Young Musician Award, the first black musician ever to do so. He won many new fans when he reached a TV audience of millions when he played at a certain royal wedding.

You’ll have to go to Limerick of Drogheda to catch his Irish debut when the 20-year old virtuoso takes a few days out of college to play the Saint Saens Cello Concerto with the ICO directed by young Hungarian conductor, Gabor Kali.

Wexford Opera Festival

Oct 22- Nov 3

Canadian artistic director, David Agler bows out this year after 15 years at the helm of the festival that prides itself on producing rarely heard works. This years’ productions include a Baroque opera andMassenet’s Don Quichotte.

For the first time in the festival’s history, work by an Irish composer gets the main house treatment.

Dubliner Andrew Synnott’s new opera, La Cucina forms part of a double bill with aRossini’s Adina.

Una Hunt blows the dust off The Veiled Prophet, a 19th century work by CV Stanford. Even if opera doesn’t appeal, there are plenty of other distractions such as lunchtime recitals, art exhibitions and singing pubs to make a trip to the South Eastern coastal town worthwhile.


Cork Opera House: November 3

Majella Cullagh sings the role of Tosca at Cork Opera House.
Majella Cullagh sings the role of Tosca at Cork Opera House.

Cork Opera House keeps faith with the long tradition of opera in the city with the last instalment of a series of concert performances, following Pirates of Penzance and The Marriage of Figaro.

Majella Cullagh makes her role debut as Tosca in Puccini’s tragic tale of betrayal and deception. John O’Brien leads the Cork Opera House Concert Orchestra and the members of Cork Operatic Society provide the chorus marking the close of its 10th year of operatic endeavours.

String Quartets at the Triskel

Triskel Christchurch Cork: Saturdays Oct 12; Nov 2; Dec 7

Lovers of chamber music are spoiled for choice this autumn with an astonishing ten professional quartets performing at 35 recitals nationwide under the aegis of the National String Quartet Foundation.

All ensembles are based in Ireland or include Irish players. The newly refurbished Kevin Barry Room at the NCH will host eight afternoon recitals. In Cork there are three lunchtime recitals remaining at the Triskel Christchurch.

Patrick Rafter leads the Lir Quartet and Cork pianist Ellen Janssen returns from studies in Berlin to join the Contempo Quartet.

Cork City Ballet Swan Lake

Cork Opera House: Nov 7-9 (includes matinée on the Saturday)

Russian dancer Ekaterina Bortyakova returns to Cork for a production of Swan Lake in November.
Russian dancer Ekaterina Bortyakova returns to Cork for a production of Swan Lake in November.

If you have never seen Swan Lake, now’s the time with no less than three productions coming to Irish stages this autumn. Ballet Ireland embarks on a national a national tour of the most popular classical ballet to 19 venues.

St Petersburg Ballet come to Dublin’s BGET.

Cork City Ballet presents a more upbeat version with a fairytale twist in the ending. The Cork City Ballet features two Russian ballet stars, Ekaterina Bortyakova and her partner Akzhol Mussakhanov with gorgeous costumes direct from the Mariinsky Ballet.

Ben Johnson and Sean Shibe

Waterford, Tralee, Kilkenny, Dublin, Castleconnell and Clifden. Nov 21-27

Music Network continue to bring top-class artists across a range of genres to the furthest corners of the country.

This year’s classical strand presents some unusual combinations.

Three percussionists led by Alex Petcu tour in October under the title Bangers and Crash.

The pairing of two former BBC Young Generation Artists promises to be a rare treat. Tenor Ben Johnson comes garlanded with all the major singing prizes and much in demand on the opera stage.

Glasgow born Sean Shibe is hailed as one of the best guitarists in the world. The duo come to six venues with a wide-ranging programme that includes English lute songs, lieder and a new commission by Brian Bolger.

Rossini; La Cenerentola

BGE Theatre, Dublin, Nov 10-16

Written at speed when a Vatican veto unexpectedly forced an opera house in Rome to withdraw a production, Rossini predicted that his opera La Cenerentola would have impresarios fighting to staging it.

More than 200 years later Rossini’s version of the Cinderella story has plenty of sparkle to illuminate the November schedule when Fergus Sheil brings the Irish National Opera production to the BGE Theatre.

Tara Erraught will deliver the vocal fireworks demanded of Angelina. Kilkenny native Orpha Phelan returns to direct. Rachel Croash and Niamh O Sullivan play the two ugly sisters.

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