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National Symphony Orchestra set to transfer from RTÉ to the National Concert Hall

The three RTÉ choirs, the Philharmonic Choir, Cór Linn and Cór na nÓg, will also transfer to the National Concert Hall from 24 January.

The National Symphony Orchestra in 2016.
The National Symphony Orchestra in 2016.
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

THE NATIONAL SYMPHONY Orchestra (NSO) is officially no longer part of RTÉ after the Government announced it would be moving under the remit of the National Concert Hall. 

The three RTÉ choirs, the RTÉ Philharmonic Choir, RTÉ Cór Linn and RTÉ Cór na nÓg, will also transfer from RTÉ to the National Concert Hall from Monday 24 January.

The National Concert Hall said in a statement that the reason for the transfer is to secure a more sustainable future for the NSO. €8 million was provided to enable the transfer of the NSO and Choirs to the National Concert Hall as part of Budget 2022.

The National Concert Hall added this amount largely equates to the estimated running costs of the NSO.

The National Concert Hall’s chairperson Maura McGrath and CEO Robert Read said they were “proud and excited” to welcome the NSO and Choirs to the National Concert Hall, adding that it will “allow us to strengthen our artistic offering to the Irish public”.

“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,” they said.

As custodian of Ireland’s musical heritage, the National Concert Hall, the National Symphony Orchestra, and the combined choral groups look forward to creating a legacy of music performance, participation and education that is uplifting for all, forging strong creative links between past, present and future.

The NSO was established by RTÉ in 1948. It has been the resident orchestra at the National Concert Hall since Ireland’s national venue was established in 1981. 

In 2017, RTÉ announced a review of its two orchestras amid what its said were “challenging” financial circumstances.

Following the publication of an independent report in 2018, the Government agreed in principle that the NSO should come within the remit of the National Concert Hall and should not be established as a separate State body.

It was later agreed between RTÉ, NCH and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media that the RTÉ Choirs should also transfer.

the-national-concert-hall-in-dublin-ireland-home-to-the-national-symphony-orchestra-and-the-main-centre-for-classical-music-in-ireland The National Concert Hall in Dublin. Source: Alamy Stock Photo

General manager of the NSO and Philharmonic Choir Anthony Long said the transfer is “of paramount significance” for the future of live symphonic and choral music in Ireland.

“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. We would like to thank RTÉ for supporting all groups for so long and we greatly look forward to working with our new colleagues at the National Concert Hall,” he said.

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Redevelopment plan

The National Concert Hall is currently preparing a major capital redevelopment plan, as part of the National Development Plan.

This will include the modernisation of the main auditorium, reactivating unused spaces into cultural use, creating new spaces for artists and the public and a new inclusive civic space for music engagement, education, participation, and learning. 

Arts and Culture Minister Catherine Martin said she was delighted to oversee the transfer, adding that the NSO will be at the heart of the National Concert Hall’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,” she said.

Director general of RTÉ Dee Forbes said it was a day “of mixed emotions” for the national broadcaster.

“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,” she said.

“I have no doubt they will continue in their mission to make great orchestral music and entertain audiences everywhere, and we will of course continue to have a strong broadcasting relationship with them in their new role at the heart of Ireland’s National Concert Hall. We wish them all the very best and thank them for the music.”

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Jane Moore

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