The Irish Chamber Orchestra is Ireland’s most dynamic ensemble, continually pushing the boundaries of what a chamber orchestra can do. Led by the ebullient Katherine Hunka, the ICO comprises twenty-two outstanding musicians whose unique sound has captivated audiences all over the world. Every year, the orchestra presents concert seasons in Limerick and Dublin, embarks on two national tours, and makes a series of prestigious international appearances supported by Culture Ireland. Under Principal Conductor/Artistic Partner Jörg Widmann, the ICO has scaled new heights, working with major international stars, forming partnerships with leading venues and releasing a series of acclaimed recordings on the Orfeo label. At the heart of the ICO’s vision is the belief that music can change lives. Sing Out with Strings (SOWS) is a groundbreaking initiative offering primary school children in Limerick the chance to learn music for free. The success of SOWS has inspired the ICO to establish the ICO Youth Orchestra (ICOYO) for aspiring musicians aged 12 to 18. The orchestra also supports new talent on the MA in Classical String Performance at the University of Limerick, and commissions work from exciting young Irish composers. The ICO is funded by The Arts Council of Ireland/An Chomhairle Ealaíon.
Interacting with up to 80 student musicians and dancers from Irish World Academy programmes, The Chieftains continue their iconic association with the Academy through their occasional concerts at UL. In memory of their late harper Derek Bell, The Chieftains Fund has been in operation at the Academy for a number of years. It is through this fund that the Academy launched Ionad na Cruite, the Irish Harp Research Centre, in 2013.
Fidget Feet Aerial Dance Company is Irish World Academy Dance Company in Residence. Originating in Donegal, Fidget Feet is Ireland’s leading aerial dance theatre company and is internationally renowned for creating spectacular indoor and outdoor productions for both theatres and festivals. The company’s dynamic work draws on dance, aerial circus, theatre, music and video art. Founded in 1998 by choreographer Chantal McCormick (Donegal) and musician Jym Daly (Cork), Fidget Feet work with an outstanding production team to create productions that are both original and fresh.
Elements of aerial dance have already begun to permeate aspects of the curricular offerings of the Irish World Academy’s programmes.
In June 2019 at the Modes of Capture Symposium, the Irish World Academy and Liz Roche Company launched a creative partnership entitled Intraspaces, which will be an experimental space for both organisations to collaborate on research, performance and pedagogy/training. Exchange will take place across the fields of high level professional practice, arts research and performance training with a focus on fostering relationships between the Academy, Liz Roche Company and a wider range of Irish and international artists, organisations and communities. This partnership model between the university and this professional dance organisation supports the development and dissemination of dance knowledges across the Irish and international arts and research landscape.Interdisciplinarity is key, with a view to creating opportunities for shared projects to intersect with a range of Academy faculty, students and courses. Liz Roche Company will offer open access to students around its working practices supported by the expertise of the company dancers, associated dance artists and creative collaborators in sound, light, set, costume and dramaturgy. Particular alignments for shared performance projects are envisioned with the MA Contemporary Dance Performance and the new MA Composition and Creative Music Practice. Furthermore, through this initiative, the partnership will expand possibilities for mentoring of postgraduate research projects and developing collaborative arts practice research outputs with faculty members.