By Jade Gavlik
The Mid-West Region’s premier live entertainment and cultural venue, University Concert Hall (UCH) celebrates its 30th anniversary this month with performances from two of Ireland’s most prestigious orchestras.
UCH became the first purpose-built concert hall in Ireland when it was officially opened on the University of Limerick campus in September 1993 by Taoiseach Albert Reynolds T.D. and U.S. Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith.
The 1,038-seat auditorium has since attracted performances from some of the biggest names in entertainment including Johnny Cash and June Carter, James Taylor, Billy Connolly, Leslie Garrett, Van Morrison, The King’s Singers, Jimmy Carr, Sir James Galway, Christy Moore and the late Sinead O’Connor.
The 30th anniversary celebrations commence on Saturday, 21st September, when the Irish Chamber Orchestra with Conductor Christian Curnyn, Mezzo Soprano Sharon Carty and Soprano Anna Devin perform “Stabat Mater”, featuring the music of Van Wassenaer, Respighi and Puccini.
On Friday, 29th September, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra will host ‘Beethoven Night’. Conducted by Joshua Gersen, the Orchestra will be joined by internationally renowned pianist John O’Conor who was one of the first musicians to perform at UCH in 1993.
Judith Woodworth, Chairperson of the UCH Board, “We have celebrated many great moments over the past 30 years from recording our one millionth visitor in 2006 to becoming the lead venue for a year long programme of events marking Limerick’s year as Ireland’s first City of Culture in 2014.
“We are immensely proud of our role in adding breadth and depth to the cultural life of the Mid-West, and our ongoing work to reflect and promote the longstanding artistic ethos of the University of Limerick by offering a wide range of cultural events and experiences. This month is a key milestone in our history, and we hope people from across the wider region and beyond will join us in marking this special occasion.”
UCH Director Sinead Hope said, “Attracting some of the world’s leading singer songwriters, standup comedians, pantomimes and classical performers to the Mid-West has had a hugely positive impact on the Region’s arts and entertainment sector, as well as the local economy.”
She continued, “We constantly strive to produce the highest quality programme of events while also providing a professional platform to community organisations and artists, such as the Limerick Musical Society, Limerick Choral Union and local schools, to promote and showcase their artistic endeavours. Our Rising Stars Concert series, launched in 2016, also aims to bring young, Irish classical artists to new audiences in a concert programme of their own choosing for one special night.
“As well as being an entertainment venue, UCH also plays a significant part in attracting conference business and hosting live tv and radio broadcasts, including The Late Late Show, Lyric FM, Gradam Ceoil TG4 and Eurosong”, added Ms. Hope. “We look forward to exploring new ways of encouraging support for and engagement with the arts in the years ahead.”