Wigmore Hall celebration of British-Irish ties

Wigmore Hall celebration of British-Irish ties
Jonathan Ware, Gavan Ring, Ailish Tynan, Ann Murray, Tara Erraught, Robin Tritschler

The heart of London’s classical music scene, run by a Limerick man, marked a hundred years of musical excellence

A centenary of shared British and Irish musical culture was marked at London’s Wigmore Hall last week – so whom better to kick off with than…Schubert.

The idea was not as counter-intuitive as some may have feared as the evening was intended to show case how Irish musical excellence has flourished in Britain and the rest of Europe.

Wigmore Hall celebration of British-Irish ties
John Gilhooly

But the starting-off point was to commemorate those who died in the Easter Rising and in the Battle of the Somme in World War One.

Watch the event on the BBC iPlayer until 20th May, 2016 here: www.bbc.co.uk

Schubert, whose compositions long preceded either of those events but lives with us today, was chosen to show how music, and musicians, transcend the national borders of these two islands.

Wigmore Hall is one of the gems of London’s musical scene and its fortunes have been restored in no small part by the efforts of its Limerick-born director John Gilhooly.

Wigmore Hall celebration of British-Irish ties
Dame Ann Murray

The star of the evening was acclaimed Irish mezzo-soprano Dame Ann Murray who has sung and taught in London for the past 40 years and who took emerging young classical talents – from the Royal Irish Academy of Music and the Royal Academy of Music – under her wing for the evening.

Watch the event on the BBC iPlayer until 20th May, 2016 here: www.bbc.co.uk

Those musicians who performed under her approving and supportive gaze included pianist Finghin Collins, clarinetist Michael Collins, the RTE Contempo Quartet, tenor Robin Tritschler, baritone Gavan Ring, mezzon Tara Erraught, soprano Ailish Tynan and harpist Lucy Wakeford.

Of the Schubert renditions Dame Ann performed An die Musik, Robin Tritschler performed Die Sterne and Cahirsiveen’s finest Gavan Ring performed. Erlkönig, Tara Erraught sang Standchen and Ailish Tynan delivered a lovely version of Ave Maria accompanied by harpist Lucy Wakeford.

Wigmore Hall celebration of British-Irish tiesThe second half of the evening was dominated by traditional Irish numbers: Galway Bay, She Moved Through the Fair, Britten’s arrangement of WB Yeats’s The Salley Gardens, and Michael Head’s The Ships of Arcady to words by the First World War Irish poet Francis Ledwidge who died at Passchendaele in 1917.

The most bravura performance of the evening was Dame Ann’s Phil the Fluter’s Ball, by Percy French. At the end of the evening Dame Ann was presented with the Wigmore Medal (established in 2007) to honour her contribution to classical music by both John Gilhooly and Ireland’s Ambassador to the UK Dan Mulhall.

Wigmore Hall celebration of British-Irish ties
Ambassador Dan Mulhall

The evening closed with a formal yet spirited rendition of Danny Boy.

The concert was broadcast live by BBC Radio 3, MC-ed by Sean Rafferty, and is available on the BBC Radio Player and iPlayer, was also broadcast by RTE’s Lyric FM and was streamed by Wigmore Hall on its own site and can still be viewed on any of those sites.

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