Hollywood Rhapsody – John Wilson & the RTÉ Concert Orchestra at the National Concert Hall, Thursday 30th January 2014.

John Wilson’s debut as Principal Conductor for the RTÉ Concert Orchestra has been highly anticipated since the appointment was announced last year. A sold out NCH welcomed the accomplished conductor as he officially took the driving seat of an orchestra that has long been in the hearts of the Irish public. This milestone, merged with a style Wilson is more than passionate about, and a programme that many will have recognised from the 2013 Proms, filled the concert hall will an air of excitement.

Alfred Newman’s 20th Century Fox Fanfare transports the audience into the world of scores from dramatic Hollywood Films. From the onset the orchestra deliver, allowing the crowd to revisit their favourite Hollywood moments. After a few seconds of his initial address to the crowd it’s easy to see why Wilson loves this kind of music, as its charisma and accessibility mirrors so much of his own character. Psycho Suite for Strings is everything you’d expect. As the suite opens it’s almost as if Wilson is dragging the haunting sounds of Bernard Herrmann’s score from the floor boards of the hall. It continues to be hugely atmospheric, as the orchestra deliver further during the challenging sections familiar to all.

On re-entering the hall, the audience are exposed to more Hollywood classics. The rich timbre of La Marseillaise floods from the orchestra as Max Steiner’s score from Casablanca is explored. Just as at the 2013 Proms, this Dublin performance is treated to three wonderful soloists, Matthew FordVenera Gimadieva and Anna-Jane Casey – all of whom wow as much as their credentials would suggest. However, more interaction between Ford and Casey would perfect their contribution to the evening. The highlight of the evening is by far the nod at Tom and Jerry, with an animated percussion section winning the crowd over.

Although it can be more daunting to perform music that is engraved in the ears of the public, The RTÉ Concert Orchestra rises to the challenge this evening. However, it is Wilson who steals the show here. His ability to direct as well as entertain proves ever popular. Throughout, he seems to push his instrumentalists to their limits but with such successful results it’s easy to see why the players react so well with his demands. True, he may have a very clear vision of what he wants to be performed but it is difficult to argue that Wilson’s appeal can be anything but a welcome breath of fresh air for classical music in Ireland.

RTÉ Concert Orchestra

John Wilson

Matthew Ford
Venera Gimadieva
Anna-Jane Casey


Alfred Newman 20th Century Fox Fanfare Street Scene How to Marry a Millionaire

Bronislau Kaper Confetti Forever, Darling

David Raksin Laura Suite

Bernard Herrmann Psycho Suite for Strings Citizen Kane Salammbô’s Aria

The Erich Wolfgang Korngold Adventures of Robin Hood Suite

Jerome Moross The Big Country Main Title

Max Steiner Casablanca Suite

Movie Theme Song Medley

Franz Waxman A Place in the Sun Suite

Scott Bradley Tom and Jerry at MGM

Miklós Rózsa Ben-Hur Suite