Founded in 1966 the Ulster Orchestra has been at the forefront of musical life in Northern Ireland for over 50 years.
The Ulster Orchestra, employing 63 full time musicians, is the region’s only symphony orchestra. Their mission is to enrich the lives of people living in Northern Ireland, those visiting, and those who encounter it through international touring and regular radio and TV broadcasts.
In 2014 the Ulster Orchestra appointed Rafael Payare as its Chief Conductor. Payare is a conductor in high demand amongst the world’s great orchestras.
The Ulster Orchestra gives around 40 evening and lunchtime concerts each season in its home, the Ulster Hall, and in the Belfast Waterfront. They perform for BBC Radio 3’s invitational concert series at the Ulster Hall and in front of tens of thousands on the Titanic Slipway for the BBC’s Proms in the Park celebrations each year. In partnership with Northern Ireland Opera in 2015 they performed Puccini’s Turandot with an international and Irish cast and 90-strong chorus in the Grand Opera.
Their annual touring programme of regional concerts which bring live orchestral music to the heart of communities in Northern Ireland are a key part of their programme. In 2015/16 the Orchestra visited Omagh, Lisburn, Ballymena, Strabane, Bangor, Derry~Londonderry and Enniskillen. As well as this, smaller ensembles run projects, workshops and chamber events throughout the region, all year round.
Learning and engagement is at the core of all that the Ulster Orchestra does. Examples of the organisation’s work range from free concert tickets for children to the award-winning Move to the Music scheme that helps isolated elderly people in rural area access live orchestral music; and from cross-community projects in areas of social deprivation to workshops and education programmes in schools throughout the region.
The Music Room is a new project that brings together various aspects of their community and educational engagement activities. It aims to nurture existing partnerships while creating new ones with communities, schools, other arts organisations, audiences and individuals – increasing access to musical skills, participation and enjoyment among new and existing groups and audiences from all backgrounds.
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