In response the Arts Council undertook in Partnership for the Arts to “examine national orchestral needs and develop appropriate responses”. 1 It is this undertaking that has led to the commissioning of the current report. 1 Partnership for the Arts in practice 2006-2008 (The Arts Council, 2005) 3
Acknowledgements The author would like to thank a broad range of people who contributed to this research by means of attendance at 1:1 and focus group meetings, telephone interviews and through written submissions. These contributors include representatives of Irish and international orchestras and opera and ballet companies, venues, festivals, promoters and resource and broadcasting organisations (both Irish and international), music education representatives (both staff and students), managers and directors of third level education, youth, amateur and other orchestras, orchestral musicians (full-time, freelance and retained), conductors, soloists and composers. Particular thanks to the staff of RT É Performing Groups who contributed positively and openly with this report, and to the executive staff and advisors of the Arts Council who gave considerable time and effort to aiding the research. A full list of contributors to this research is contained in Appendix 6.2 at the end of this report. The time and input of these contributors has added immeasurably to the content of this report. 4
Introduction In most western countries, orchestras are an indispensable part of the cultural fabric; an important element of how society views itself, its history and its identity. Orchestras have an astonishing reach into society, and an ability to encompass a vast array of artistic expression in their work. Professional orchestras frequently perform over one hundred concerts per year, programming many hundreds of individual pieces of music spanning four centuries of composition, reaching live audiences of hundreds of thousands and broadcasting to millions of listeners. From 10 or 12 players to full symphonic ensembles of 90 to 100 performers, some orchestras specialise in particular areas of repertoire, but most have a broad artistic reach, capable of switching instantly from one particular genre to another. As well as their concert profile, orchestras undertake a range of other work including performance in opera and ballet, accompanying choirs, playing for music theatre and entertainment events and much else.
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