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Cork Independent

Lifestyle & Leisure

Guess who's Bach in town?

Wednesday, 26th August, 2020 3:10pm

If you were to take a stroll past City Hall this week, you just might hear one of the nation’s finest orchestras rehearsing for a very special online performance.

Early next month the Esker Festival Orchestra will perform and record a beautiful programme of music to be streamed from Leeside.

Conducted by its founder Peter Joyce, the Galway-based ensemble will treat both local and global audiences to a programme featuring pieces from Gustav Mahler, Anton Webern and Sebastien Bach.

Due to Covid-19, the orchestra was forced to reduce in size, facing Peter Joyce with the challenge of putting together a performance programme that would be both historically accurate and suitable for chamber orchestra.

“The giant orchestras we are used to today are a relatively new phenomenon,” explains Peter.

“It’s been fascinating to research the historical precursors of today’s limitations and to build a programme that can work with a smaller ensemble.

“On the one hand, in Bach’s time, orchestras were rarely larger than 20 musicians, and in the early 20th century, as with the Mahler and Webern, there was a movement of arranging works for large orchestras so that they could be performed by smaller ensembles.

“In some ways this allows us to connect more directly with the music and opens up new horizons for interpretation.”

The ensemble will bring together some of Ireland’s highest calibre of young professional musicians, not to mention a strong contingent from Cork including violinist Hugh Murray, celloist Yseult Cooper Stockdale, pianist Ellen Jansson and percussionist Alex Petcu.

The Esker Festival Orchestra, which is entirely run by its members, was set up in 2014 to provide a high quality, beneficial and meaningful musical opportunity for young emerging musicians from all across Ireland.

The performance will premiere online on 6 September at 6pm and will be available on the Esker Festival Orchestra website, Facebook, and YouTube.

This evening (Thursday), in the lead-up to the event, there will be a live question and answers session on the Esker Festival Orchestra Facebook page with Peter Joyce and the members of the ensemble all set to take part.

The session will focus on the transition from student to professional musician and feature information about the pieces and the rehearsal process.

Questions can be submitted either by private message on social media or via email at eskerfestivalorchestra@gmail.com.

The Esker Festival Orchestra is supported by the Irish Association of Youth Orchestras, The Arts Council, RTÉ Supporting the Arts, Cork City Council and CIT Cork School of Music.

Full details of the performance can be found at eskerfestivalorchestra.com.

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