The Irish Baroque Orchestra launched its Autumn Season for 2017 alongside the newly-formed Irish Youth Baroque Orchestra’s first public concert. This initiative, a collaboration between the IBO, the Irish Association of Youth Orchestras (IAYO) and the Royal Irish Academy of Music, led by violinist Claire Duff, took the form of a one-week course at the RIAM. The week’s work was reflected in an imaginatively-programmed concert of battalias (battle-scenes) from the early baroque, followed by more peaceable works from later in the period, with impressive playing and energy throughout. The programme included a fine violin and flute concerto by Telemann, featuring Duff herself alongside flautist (and former PlecPick 2016) Miriam Kaczor. Education has always been an aspiration of the IBO, and so it is encouraging to see it finally in action in a public setting, and clearly bodes well for the future.

The Orchestra’s Autumn Season 2017 sees artistic director Monica Huggett return in September to lead a short series of three ‘Masterworks’ concerts in St Ann’s Dawson Street. Programming chamber music by Mozart and Beethoven, the focus is on much later material than usual. Taking the ensemble’s period performance practice into repertoire not generally associated with a ‘baroque’ ensemble will certainly prove intriguing. December, once again, sees the IBO re-join the voices of Resurgam (along with soloists Sarah Power, Sharon Carty, Peter Harris, and Brian McAlea) with the annual three-city tour of Handel’s Messiah, this year directed by Peter Whelan.

Between these two fixtures, October sees the IBO also contribute three concerts to the National Concert Hall’s Chamber Music Series. Directed and curated by Claire Duff, these performances, collectively called ‘Prodigies and Premieres’, explore lesser-known material, including virtuoso opera arias from 17th-century Italy sung by Sharon Carty, and music from Georgian Dublin, including pieces by Geminiani and Dubourg. As a throwback to Duff’s work with the Irish Composers’ Collective in 2015, this last programme also includes a specially-commissioned sonata for baroque violin by Seán Doherty, creating a dialogue between old and new.

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