RTE Concert Orchestra 60th Birthday Concert

Reviewed at the National Concert Hall, Dublin by Gerry Colgan.

The RTÉ Concert Orchestra really knows how to throw a party. From the moment that conductor laureate Proinnsias Ó Duinn launched his brass at Shostakovich's rousing Festive Overture , there was a feeling of something special in the air. Next came New Zealander Will Martin, a light baritone of a mere 24 years with as lovely a voice as a man can have. He sang The Last Rose of Summer and Going Home , bringing the house down. An orchestral piece by Ron Goodwin was followed by a Welsh soprano, Natasha Marsh, who sang an aria from Puccini, and other numbers.

A strings-only version of Sondheim's Send in the Clowns was mood-making, and Gary Williams came on to offer superior pop songs Sinatra-style. A rousing The Sorcerer's Apprentice ended the first half.

After the interval, a lively piece by Belfast-born AJ Potter topped up the mood again, charging the atmosphere for Gary Williams to return in swinging mood with numbers by Johnny Mercer, Sammy Cahn and Cole Porter.

The cinema provided the orchestra with a feast of colour from Pirates of the Caribbean , and the extraordinary Will Martin conquered all again with two songs from his album New World , and joined Natasha Marsh in a spellbinding duet in The Prayer , a song nominated for an Academy Award. Natasha then sang a final set of three numbers, all entrancing.

The song My Way now tends to generate a certain resistance - overdone - but Gary Williams's treatment of his final number was exceptional.

Then the orchestra cut loose with Riverdance , plus an encore medley, to end a splendid evening, monitored by Ronan Collins as an affable presenter.

An evening suffused with the magic of music, then; and what a party.