RTÉ orchestras: a discordant note

Unions are sounding alarm at any plan to separate the orchestras, suggesting it would be an erosion of RTÉ’s public service role

It was a remarkable achievement that, in the early lean years of the State, the genesis of our national orchestra became a priority within Radio Eireann, precursor of today’s RTÉ. Photograph: Mark Stedman

It was a remarkable achievement that, in the early lean years of the State, the genesis of our national orchestra became a priority within Radio Eireann, precursor of today’s RTÉ. Photograph: Mark Stedman

 

There is a certain lack of harmony between the recent announcement of State investment of almost €80 million towards the redevelopment of the National Concert Hall and this week’s review pointing to an uncertain future for the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra (NSO). Although the provision of a world-class venue is to be welcomed, this would be a hollow temple of bricks and mortar if it were without the continued participation of the orchestra as a vital component of its programme. It would, as the Boaden review states, constitute “a major diminution in the nation’s cultural and artistic life”.

The orchestra, which has earned its place as one of our national assets, has been under threat for some time due to the national broadcaster’s claim that it can no longer bear the cost of two orchestras. Whether the review’s proposal that the NSO should receive direct government funding, with the concert orchestra remaining RTÉ’s responsibility, is truly “a way forward” – as Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan seemed to suggest – remains to be seen. Unions in RTÉ are already sounding alarm at any plan to separate the orchestras, suggesting it would be an erosion of RTÉ’s public service role.

The orchestra comes under the remit of the Minister for Communications but it now appears its future is dependent on the Department of Culture and Heritage taking it into the fold of national cultural institutions. That may be the only solution to guarantee its survival, but a long history of underfunding for cultural institutions does not inspire confidence in this idea.

It was a remarkable achievement that, in the early years of the State, the genesis of our national orchestra became a priority within Radio Éireann, precursor of today’s RTÉ. The station was charged with bringing classical music to the Irish public, a role it has fulfilled over many decades. In a year that marks the 70th anniversary of the foundation of a fully-fledged National Symphony Orchestra, it is regrettable that its role at the forefront of symphonic music in Ireland has some doubt hanging over it.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.