Ulster Orchestra set to host UK's most prestigious classical music forum in Belfast

The Ulster Orchestra with chief conductor Rafael Payare

THE Ulster Orchestra will next week host the UK’s most prestigious classical music forum, the annual conference of the Association of British Orchestras (ABO), at the ICC Belfast.

Due to Brexit, the conference comes amid fears of restricted access to talent and increased red tape when touring continental Europe but ABO director Mark Pemberton says: “Brexit will of course be a topic, but with so little concrete information available even at this advanced stage, we will be taking the opportunity to look beyond geography and politics. What other boundaries exist? What are the barriers that inhibit reaching wider audiences? How can we make meaningful progress around diversity and inclusion?”

The conference takes place from January 23-25, with the Ulster Orchestra premiering a short piece by local composer Ryan Malloy on the opening day and the ABO’s awards dinner, sponsored by Classic FM, taking place later that evening.

Day two, January 24, sees a special ‘cross-border’ concert in which the Ulster Orchestra, conducted by Rafael Payare, will be joined by players across Europe to form a 100-strong group of musicians in a performance of Shostakovich’s epic Symphony No 4.

Players from Netherlands Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, City of London Sinfonia, Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, Opera North, Scottish Ensemble and the Musicians’ Union Freelance Orchestral Committee will participate.

The concert also includes the world-class soprano Dorothea Röschmann for a performance of Strauss’s Four Last Songs.

Other performances taking place during the conference will include the ?havorenge choir, part of a project by the Czech Philharmonic to rehabilitate the reputation of the marginalised Roma community in the Czech Republic.

:: Tickets for the January 24 concert available at or call 028 9033 4455.

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