According to the French critic, Alphonse Karr “Plus ça change, plus c’est la meme chose” – the more things change, the more they are the same – and so it is with Ireland’s longest running chamber music festival which will now be called the KBC Great Music in Irish Houses Festival.
The livery may be new but the spirit and ethos remain the same. True to form it will do what it says on the tin: compelling programming in a diverse range of venues and renowned international and Irish artists. The name change is a subtle one to be sure, but one that offers a wider choice of venue. Many of the houses for which the core music of the Festival was written are no longer available for performances – for instance, some have become hotels. The Festival is now looking to refresh for the next decade and further underpin the standard of music and performance, already the hallmark of this festival. The new title opens the future possibility of using some of the country’s modern iconic buildings, expressions of the confidence of 21st century Ireland, and this year we will visit some of the rejuvenated buildings whose restoration reflects the diversity of Irish architectural and interior design.
The sensitive and magnificent restoration work of the OPW is exemplified in two of our concert venues – Rathfarnham Castle, for the opening concert on June 12th and in the Festival’s “birthplace” of Castletown House on the afternoon of June 17th. The spectacular transformation of Smock Alley in Temple Bar provides a dramatic setting for the performance on June 13th. While Ireland has a big international football challenge on June 14th, music is not forgotten with a pre-match concert in the recently established Little Museum of Dublin on Stephen’s Green. We’re back on “the Green” on June 15th with an overdue visit to the Royal College of Surgeons. The Mansion House, site of the first Dáil sitting in 1919 and now official residence of the Lord Mayor of Dublin will host a musical rather than political team on the morning of June 16th and an evening performance on the same day will be held in the perennial Festival favourite Killruddery House in Co. Wicklow. For the final concert on June 17th we pay our first visit to the National Concert Hall, the nation’s home for music. As always we are indebted to the owners and custodians of these wonderful buildings for their kind permission and assistance. We are grateful to the OPW for their continued support and interest and honoured that the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Andrew Montague has opened the Mansion House to the Festival.
It can be said of the new-look Festival that GREAT MUSIC will be available morning, noon and night. This year, for the first time, ticketing for ALL Festival events will be in the capable hands of the Box Office staff of the National Concert Hall with easy 24 hour access online, by phone or in person six days a week. Because of the times that are in it, we are pleased to be able to offer half of these magnificent concerts at a recession friendly €20 and less. Our valued “Friends of the Festival” can still avail of a special Priority Booking period and ensure their preferred seats.
So, much to look forward to in the new look KBC GREAT MUSIC IN IRISH HOUSES FESTIVAL and I know that you will enjoy the roster of extraordinary musical talent from home and abroad to be heard this year.