Center for the Arts Welcomes Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra

Posted: January 9, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

At the time of its founding in the mid-1800s, Dublin was one of the most vibrant and distinctive cities in the British Isles, and the Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra was a pillar of Irish classical music.

More than 150 years later, this brilliant orchestra undertakes its first tour of the United States. Mason’s Center for the Arts will welcome the orchestra at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall at Northern Virginia Community College’s Alexandria campus on Friday, Feb. 6, at 8 p.m.

Conductor Gleeson and Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor Derek Gleeson and the Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra

The performance will feature the dynamic young duo consisting of conductor Derek Gleeson and soprano Celine Byrne. The program includes timeless masterpieces by some of the world’s most renowned composers, including Brahms’ “Academic Festival Overture,” Mozart’s “Dove Sono” and “Porgi amor,” Mahler’s “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen” and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7.

A discussion, free to ticket holders, will begin 45 minutes prior to the performance in the seminar meeting room on the hall’s upper level.

The Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra presented regular classical concerts in Dublin until the advent of the war of independence from Britain.

With the ensuing Irish civil war, many of Ireland’s professional classes immigrated to England and the United States, and Dublin’s classical music life suffered. After the Irish Free State and then the Republic of Ireland was formed, classical music was revitalized through the Irish National Broadcaster, Radio Telefis Eireann.

In 1997, the orchestra was reconstituted under Gleeson’s direction, drawing its members from orchestras throughout Ireland and international musicians throughout Europe. Since then, the orchestra has performed throughout Ireland.

A U.S./Irish dual citizen, Gleeson studied piano, percussion, composition and conducting at music conservatories in Dublin, London and Vienna, as well as film scoring at the University of California, Los Angeles.

An ardent champion of contemporary music, Gleeson has provided many premiere performances of works by living composers, himself included. His recordings as conductor have included the works of Irish and American contemporary composers with the Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra.

Byrne is recognized as one of Ireland’s best sopranos, with a world-class lyric voice. Her appearances at major concert halls in Ireland and abroad, including Carnegie Hall, the National Concert Hall in Dublin, and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia, have been greeted with enthusiastic acclaim.

Byrne has performed with Lyric Opera, Anna Livia Opera Festival and Wexford Opera Festival. Her roles include Countess Almaviva in “Le Nozze di Figaro,” Fiordiligi in “Cosi Fan Tutte,” Nora in “Riders to the Sea,” Mimi in “La Bohème,” Nedda in “I Pagliacci,” Rosalinde in “Die Fledermaus” and Hanna Glawari in “The Merry Widow.”

The Center for the Arts recognizes the generous support of PNC and the PNC Foundation as sponsor of the 2008-09 Great Performances at Mason Season.

Tickets are $50, $42 and $25. Charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit

Directions and parking information for the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center are available online.

Write to at