Love your orchestras?

 

Sir, – RTÉ has neglected the two orchestras (the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra) over a period of years if not decades.

By the non-filling of vacancies and the strategic offering of redundancies and early retirements, both orchestras will be non-functioning by June 2018.

The NewEra report commissioned by the then-government and published in 2015 states, “in our view further cost-reduction measures would commence with a review of services which could otherwise be provided by the market, as opposed to services such as Raidió na Gaeltachta, Lyric FM or the orchestras”.

RTÉ has commissioned a review of the orchestras due to conclude in February 2018. Is RTÉ looking for a different outcome because it didn’t like the NewEra outcome?

I have had the privilege of working in both orchestras for 31 years and count myself lucky to have worked with musicians of the highest international standards and who operate in two very different ensembles with differing styles and sounds. I am concerned that RTÉ is involved in a cynical exercise where it will “maintain” two brands of orchestras staffed by an amorphous pool of players. This would be a disaster and would destroy the wonderful individuality of these two orchestras which have developed a style and sound over six decades.

Ireland is at the bottom of the scale in Europe in orchestral provision, both in terms of the number of state orchestras and staffing numbers.

While this debate might be centred around the provision of two orchestras, it should be widened to include whether RTÉ is the right home for these excellent ensembles.

Should the slogan read, “Love your orchestras – or lose them”? – Yours, etc,

BILL DOWDALL,

(Principal Flute,

RTÉ Concert

Orchestra 1973-79,

Principal Flute,

RTÉ National

Symphony Orchestra

1979-2004),

Rathmines, Dublin 6.