For this year’s Blackwater Valley Opera Festival’s opera production – Orfeo ed Euridice by Christoph Willibald Gluck – we were very excited to collaborate with the magnificent, award winning Irish Baroque Orchestra conducted by Peter Whelan. The Irish Baroque Orchestra is acclaimed as Ireland’s flagship period music ensemble and delivers historically-informed performances to the highest standards across Ireland and abroad. Under the artistic direction of Peter Whelan, scholarship and musical excellence converge in a unique way through the IBO’s work. This creates an original offering like no other organisation on the Irish classical music scene. Through this integration of research and practice the very idea of an orchestra is defined afresh, providing an unusual and enriching experience for today’s audiences.
As an ambassador for the stories of Ireland’s musical past, the IBO uses its unique perspective to develop the growing store of knowledge surrounding the very early days of Baroque and Classical music in Ireland. The IBO’s research, recordings and performances offer the people of Ireland a new opportunity to reevaluate and reclaim their cultural heritage, while also engaging the Irish diaspora through the increasing global reach of this work. Even Handel’s Messiah – an annual touring highlight in the IBO calendar – is a rekindled link to Dublin’s cultural life in 1742.
In 2019 the orchestra released ‘Welcome Home Mr Dubourg’ on Linn Records, which was profiled in the Irish Times and on BBC Radio 3 and met with positive reviews across Europe. The second album, ‘The Trials of Tenducci’ featuring Irish mezzo-soprano Tara Erraught, came out in March 2021 and went straight to the top of the iTunes classical chart in Ireland upon its release. It has enjoyed critical acclaim world-wide, receiving notable praise from Gramophone Magazine, France Musique & BR Klassik. In February 2022 the IBO made its debut to critical acclaim at the Linbury Theatre, Royal Opera House, London with Vivaldi’s ‘Bajazet’, a co-production from Irish National Opera and the Royal Opera House. They subsequently won an Olivier Award in the ‘Outstanding Achievement in Opera’ category for their work on this production.
The IBO is committed to developing the scene for historically-informed performance in Ireland, and works with a number of partner organisations across the country to ensure its continued growth for future generations. The Irish Youth Baroque Orchestra gives students the opportunity to work intensively on elements of period style, and IBO’s Apprentice Scheme supports students as they take their first steps into the profession. An annual side-by-side scheme with the Royal Irish Academy of Music is a crucial, recent development in the IBO’s educational portfolio, as is a new Baroque Strings class aimed at amateur adult string players.
The Irish Baroque Orchestra is generously funded by the Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon. It also receives financial support from Dublin City Council and Culture Ireland. The orchestra has its own collection of period instruments, purchased with the assistance of an Arts Council capital grant and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The IBO is resident at the National Concert Hall, Dublin and as of 2021 is an ensemble member of the Réseau Européen de Musique Ancienne (European Early Music Network)
📸 Sean O’Riordan