David Bremner featured as pianist and composer at Echoes and Memories, curated by Gráinne Mulvey

A high proportion of composers do not like writing about their work but listeners find such context invaluable

Airs & Dances from Dublin CastleSpackling BandAtoll ACD 9153

 Ermonela Jaho: the Albanian soprano, who first appeared in Wexford in 2000, was the Readers’ Award Winner at the International Opera Awards. Photograph: Marc Ross/AFP/Getty Images

In the past 10 years, the grant to Wexford has crept up but OTC's has fallen fast. What’s the rationale?

Schumann: Piano Concerto; Mendelssohn: Fair Melusine Overture; Piano Concerto No 1Ingrid Fliter (piano), Scottish Chamber Orchestr(...)

This year’s star attraction of Great Music in Irish Houses is American pianist Richard Goode. Photograph: Hiroyuki Ito/Getty Images

Great Music in Irish Houses, Killaloe Chamber Music Festival and Cork Chamber Music Festival also reveal their programmes

The Vanbrugh Quartet

The Vanbrugh Quartet’s unusual approach played up the contrast between early and late Beethoven

The new pieces by Scott McLaughlin, Eric Skytterholm Egan and Amanda Feery will be heard at the NCH on May 16th

Can the Music of Our Time series at the NCH remedy the weaknesses of the national broadcaster’s long-standing approach to new musi(...)

Japanese conductor Masaaki Suzuki

Music-making does not come much purer than in Masaaki Suzuki’s approach to Bach at the NCH

The production zips along thanks to carefully drawn characters, the conductor’s pacing and the vocal commands of the leads

Characters are given space to sing and shine in impressive updating of a comic classic

Simon O’Connor’s set of intimate songs, imagining 1916 through the experience of the wives of the rebel leaders, is currently on tour

Sorrow and loss continue to hold us in greater thrall than the idea of a new order in the offing

Donnacha Dennehy: his approach to words and voices is reverential

Michael Dervan: Two evenings of music and words as part of Ireland 2016 got me thinking about the links that were missed

The Vanbrugh Quartet

The NCH room - where the Treaty debates were held - has had a revamp. Will this fix the acoustic problems?

Jörg Widmann. Photograph: Marco Borggreve

The Irish Chamber Orchestra’s second attempt at taming the Mansion House room’s intractable acoustic brought some progress

Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu: has often been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Photograph: Dieter Nagl/AFP/Getty Images

She is sometimes said to live up to the prima donna billing, but after a cautious start she shone at the NCH

“It was through George Bernard Shaw I discovered that the shape of 19th century concerts was radically different to what we are used to today”

Freiburger Barockorchester pay no heed to modern approaches to concert structures

Conductor Nicholas McGegan: well-heeled Americans follow him around

A lucky few can follow their favourite groups and repertoires around the world. The rest of us have to take our chances when we ca(...)

Brahms: Piano Trio in B Op 8; Piano Quartet in C minor Op 60Christophe Gaugué (viola), Trio WandererHarmonia Mundi HMC 9022224

“Nathalia Milstein made plenty of sound, but her personal voice doesn’t yet seem capable of carrying the full import.” Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Despite the clear skill of last year’s Dublin International Piano Competition winner, something was missing at a recent concert

The Freiburger Barockorchester

The Freiburger Barockorchester will usher in a new order at their NCH concert

Soprano Ailish Tynan: at her beguiling best

The Irish Chamber Orchestra has moved to the Mansion House’s Round Room, and there are challenges to overcome

Bruch: Violin Concerto No 1; Romance; SerenadeJack Liebeck (violin), BBC Scottish SO/Martyn BrabbinsHyperion CDA 680604

Igor Stravinsky at Dublin Airport in 1963. Photograph: Tommy Collins

The Russian, a giant among 20th century composers, deserved an NCH showcase of his distinctive style

Egyptian soprano Fatma Said:  first prize at the Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition

Is there a gender or national bias in our high-profile music competitions? Sorry, conspiracy theorists, but no

For Courtney Lewis, above, Haydn is a bedrock of the repertoire. Photograph: Travis Anderson

The conductor and the RTÉ NSO show Haydn a good time; and Ó Riada’s score for Mise Éire leaves me cold

Steibelt: Piano Concertos Nos 3, 5, 7Ulster Orchestra/Howard Shelley (piano)Hyperion CDA 681043

The new Ortús Festival is the brainchild of two young musicians, violinist Mairéad Hickey and cellist Sinéad O’Halloran

Two long-standing music series lose out as new events hit the jackpot, but the lack of continuity from year to year is mind-boggli(...)

Veronica Dunne with competition hopefuls Maria McGrath, Niamh O’Sullivan, Rachel Croash, Aoife Gibney and Sarah Richmond. Photograph: Leon Farrell/Photocall

Veronica ‘Ronnie’ Dunne began teaching in 1962. At 88 her passion is still obvious and she is alarmingly direct in her opinions ab(...)

You could look at Boulez’s always baton-less hands and see suggestions of refinements that had not yet actually made it into the playing. Photograph: Christophe Ena/File/AP Photo/

Boulez was the last of a great avant-garde line. But was Gilbert Kaplan, another conductor who died last week, just faking it?

Courtney Lewis: currently conducting the Jacksonville Symphony orchestra in Florida

The Belfast man studied at Cambridge with the goal of becoming a composer, but the lure of conducting led him to a rewarding caree(...)

Valery Gergiev and the London Symphony Orchestra concentrate on the big picture

The best-known Irish musical name was that of tenor John McCormack (above), who abandoned the opera house in favour of a concert career

That was the scene internationally, but what would a Dublin music lover have had to choose from?

Check out the work of the Dublin Youth Orchestras, above, at the NCH on January 9th

Orchestra members fulfil vital extracurricular functions such as providing music education and road-testing new music

We are lucky to have a number of Irish promoters whose taste and empathy for the audience’s experience set them apart

Granados: Piano Quintet; Turina: Piano Quintet; CaliopeJavier Perianes (piano), Cuarteto QuirogaHarmonia Mundi HMC 9022264

Annilese Miskimmon, above, was not the only applicant with an Irish connection who applied for the job

Norway’s top opera job is being taken up by Annilese Miskimmon. The post comes with its own dramatic history

Three organisations – Music in Wexford, Music in Kilkenny, and Lismore Music Festival – have lost €30,000 in grant funding from the Arts Council. Photograph: Thinkstock

Times have been hard, but the decision to cut funding to three musical organisations is unnecessarily damaging

Valentin Silvestrov: Piano SonatasSimon SmithDelphian DCD 341514

“The steering committee controlled the first New Music Dublin festival, and then handed the later festivals to Donnacha Dennehy and David Lang (above). It’s easy to see why it has lacked a coherent vision”

New Music Dublin has suffered numerous abuses in its short life and has been postponed for 2016. Can it be fixed?

NCH chairman Gerry Kearney, Minister of State Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, Minister for Arts Heather Humphreys and NCH chief executive Simon Taylor with Martin Hayes (fiddle) and Dennis Cahill (guitar) at the launch of Imagining Home

Only one living Irish composer is part of the NCH’s seven-concert series for the 1916 centenary

Rothko Chapel Houston Chamber Choir/Robert Simpson, Sarah Rothenberg (piano)ECM New Series 481 17964

Deborah Borda, above, once told me that when orchestras started holding blind auditions, they found themselves hiring far more women

Many years ago I wrote about music for a while under a female pseudonym. It was a real eye-opener

The clarity of definition that Danish conductor Thomas Dausgaard produced conjured up the idea of a Brahms who had been working out in gym, with all that implies

The Swedish Chamber Orchestra offered an alternative to ‘stouter’ performances of Brahms's second symphony

NI Opera’s staging of Puccini’s “Turandot”: set in a kind despotic oriental factory, it benefits from striking designs by Rebecca Ringst and Ingo Krügler

NI Opera’s ‘Turandot’ is stunning, while Leif Ove Andsnes enjoys stint at the NCH

The opera house in Wexford generates opera on just 12 nights a year in a town with a population of about 20,000 in the southeastern corner of the country. Photograph: David Sleator

The renaming of Wexford Opera House is odd: what’s fine for a festival does not necessarily make sense for a national institution (...)

Eric Huchet’s Cantarelli (on right) balances the demands most successfully

Charm and sentiment dominate in a story of multiple marriages in 16th-century France

Charm and sentiment dominate in a story of multiple marriages – forced, mixed, secret, or not – in 16th-century France

Norman Garrett in Koanga. Photograph: Clive Barda

The cast struggle to make an impression in an opera that never gets off the ground

The ghosts of the deceased mingle on stage with the living in a production that moulds Mascagni’s opera into a fascinating whole (...)

The Last Hotel: ‘The high-impact nervous energy of Dennehy’s score is often topped by almost impossibly creamy-sounding soprano lines from Claudia Boyle and Katherine Manley’

The second year of the Ros Tapestry Suite saw top-notch piano performances of five commissioned compositions

Dennis Russell Davies: ‘The immediacy of live performance, you can’t beat it’

The conductor has done it all and is marked out by the strength of his commitment to new music

Bruckner: Symphony No 1 (Linz version)Netherlands Radio PO/Jaap van ZwedenChallenge Classics CC 725564

Lang Lang: ‘Every night, onstage, you need to be in the same condition. That is very difficult for a lot of people’

Lang Lang takes a strict approach to consistency – so is two out of three acceptable when it comes to a concert?

Agrippina: director Oliver Mears plays it as a contemporary soap opera

Handel’s first great opera is a comic piece about a serious subject

At this year’s Wexford Festival Opera, weekend performances of Delius’s Koanga, Mascagni’s Guglielmo Ratcliff and Hérold’s Le Pré aux clercs (above) are already sold out

Organisers have had to change schedule for next year’s event after failing to secure venues

Schumann: Piano Concerto; Piano Trio No 2Alexander Melnikov (piano), Freiburger Barockorchester/Pablo Heras-Casado, Isabelle Faust(...)

The Bergen Philharmonic: Norway’s oldest. It was founded when Mozart was just nine

The Bergen Philharmonic, which is certainly one of the oldest, played with great character in its Irish debut

Conductor Andrew Litton

Andrew Litton, who is in Dublin for one of his final appearances as conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, explains the j(...)

Tara Erraught: the Irish mezzo soprano of the moment gives recitals at Wexford Festival Opera, the NCH and in Galway. Photograph: Dieter Nagl/AFP/Getty Images

The new season is strong on singing and orchestral debuts, and composers from Sibelius to Mahler

Zhu Xiao-Mei survived the rigours of China’s Cultural Revolution. She makes no secret of how severely scarred she was by it. Photograph: Martin Jehnichen/Accentus Music

Kilkenny’s 10-day immersion in Bach was a box-office success and provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

Wartime ConsolationsLinus Roth (violin), Württemberg CO Heilbronn/Ruben Gazarian, José Gallardo (piano)Challenge Classics CC 73680(...)

Mahan Esfahani, who was born in Tehran in 1984, makes music like someone who has an old head on young shoulders. Photograph: Marco Borggreve

A performance of JS Bach’s Mass in B Minor was the real highlight of the arts festival’s first weekend

Mahan Esfahani: Photograph: Getty Images

This year the Kilkenny Arts Festival’s music strand focuses on the great composer. Here, five renowned interpreters reflect on hi(...)

HJ Lim: gives the impression that, musically speaking, punctuation and cadence are of little concern to her

Classical music: The problem with HJ Lim’s in-your-face style is that, when nothing is normal, you can get to the point where noth(...)

Claudia Boyle  who stars in The Last Hotel by Donnacha Dennehy

Happily, the composer has got over his anxieties, and his second collaboration with Enda Walsh, ‘The Last Hotel’, is shaping up to(...)

The original theme lacked grandeur, but such portmanteaus can be a source of creativity

George Enescu could play whole operas from memory and almost everything by Bach

The intriguing role of memory in musical performance has been a hot topic lately

So complete was the rift that opened up, that Bakels (above) has had to wait more than two decades before conducting in Dublin again

An NCH concert hinted at what might have been had the plans of the 1990s not unravelled

Mozart: Piano Sonatas Vol 3 Christian BlackshawWigmore Hall Live WHLive 0076/2 (2 CDs)4

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