The Irish Symphonic Wind Orchestra was established in January 2014. Having worked together for many years, it’s founding members Keith Kelly and Barbara Dowling endeavoured to put together a high calibre wind band to perform Johan de Meijs Symphony No. 1 “The Lord of the Rings.” This ensemble would be made up of wind band musicians from around Ireland. It quickly became clear that musicians were very excited at the prospect of performing exceptional wind band music at a very high level, and so, The Irish Symphonic Wind Orchestra had been born. In January 2014 under the baton of Liam Daly, ISWO gave its first public performance in Athlone, Co. Westmeath.
The members of ISWO are over 25 years old and from all corners of the island of Ireland and beyond representing over 25 community bands. Our musicians are from both amateur and professional organisations. They are family, friends, and acquaintances who all mix together at our workshop weekend and create a great sense of unity and camaraderie.
Since 2014, the ensemble has caught the eye and interest of international composers such as Philip Sparke and Johan de Meij. In September 2015, ISWO invited and, was honoured to welcome Philip Sparke to conduct a programme of his own music, and In September 2016, less than three years since the idea of performing “The Lord of the Rings” became a reality, ISWO invited Johan De Meij to Ireland to conduct some of his works including “The Hobbits” from Symphony No 1 which brought the whole concept full circle.
In 2017, ISWO had the privilege of performing at the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles (WASBE) Convention in Utrecht, Netherlands. This was the first time an Irish ensemble had this opportunity and in July of that year ISWO took to the international stage under its conductor Liam Daly, and guest conductor and President, Fergus O’Carroll.
2018 has been the beginning of a new era for ISWO. In January, we welcomed the renowned Scottish born conductor Mark Heron to conduct the ensemble. Mark, in addition to his roles at the RNCM and Manchester University, has conducted ensembles from the Royal Academy of Music, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Tilburg & Maastricht Conservatories, the National Youth Wind Orchestras of Great Britain and Israel, Slovenian National Youth Orchestra, and many more. We are delighted and honoured to have him work with us in 2018 and look forward to another great season with him in 2019.
ISWO is always looking to the future for further projects and challenges. With the enthusiasm we've received from all our musicians, supporters and the wider community, we certainly have much to look forward to.