The Sligo Baroque Orchestra perform a special concert under the stars at the Armagh Planetarium

The Sligo Baroque Orchestra returns to Sligo after performing a special concert under the stars in the dome of the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium. Some of the music presented had not been played for 200 years.

he orchestra collaborated with planetarium staff to present a program of music and astronomical information celebrating the life of William Herschel, days after the 200th anniversary of his death.

Herschel is best known for his discovery of the planet Uranus – the only planet to have been discovered since antiquity; he also discovered infrared and his work forms the basis of modern astronomy internationally. Less well known is the fact that Herschel was first and foremost a professional musician, leaving Hanover in Germany for England to seek a successful career in England.

Michael Burton, director of the Observatory, highlighted Herschel’s findings and their importance between the pieces of music performed by the Sligo Baroque Orchestra. It was indeed an unprecedented program. The music performed included three pieces by William Herschel – the first movement of his Atmospheric Eighth Symphony; the entirety of the 14th Symphony and, most excitingly, what is almost certainly the first performance of Herschel’s Violin Concerto in G since the 18th century – with the conductor of the Sligo Baroque Orchestra, Nicola Cleary as soloist. And alongside Herschel’s music were pieces by some of his contemporary composers in England.

The orchestra will present a similar Herschel program as part of its contribution to the Sligo Baroque Music Festival on September 25 in The Model.

Sligo Baroque Orchestra was founded over thirty years ago and currently leads a very active existence, involved in over ten performances each year, often unearthing almost forgotten composers from the Baroque period – but also collaborating with traditional musicians, l NoCrows International Folk Orchestra, and other ensembles and individual musicians. It’s a sort of hybrid ensemble, with a core of professional musicians, but also students and amateurs.

Anna Houston, Principal Cellist of the Sligo Baroque Orchestra and one of the orchestra’s organizers, says they are always welcoming potential new members and are particularly looking for violins and violas at the moment.

Contacting the orchestra can be done using: [email protected]

Arline J. Mercier