RTÉ lyric fm turns 25!

Music station "Where Life Sounds Better" celebrates birthday with a gala concert

RTÉ lyric fm celebrates 25 years today Wednesday, May 1st. The debut broadcast on the dedicated classical and arts music station started at 12 noon on May 1st 1999 and RTÉ lyric fm has continued to grow in popularity over those 25 years.

The 25th birthday celebrations will be marked by a gala concert in Limerick, home of RTÉ lyric fm, tonight. The concert features the RTÉ Concert Orchestra conducted by David Brophy and a host of performers and lyric presenters. It will broadcast live on lyric fm from 7.30pm and listeners can join the party.

President Michael D. Higgins sent a message of congratulations ahead of the birthday, and said: “Over the past quarter-century, lyric fm has truly enhanced the cultural landscape of Ireland, showcasing the beauty and diversity of not just classical music but also such a wide range of music that includes traditional, jazz, world music, musicals and film scores.

It has drawn on such an incredibly diverse range which is one of the station's greatest strengths. In embracing contemporary compositions, also and bringing innovative, insightful programming to audiences nationwide, the station has become an integral part of our artistic tapestry. It represents public service broadcasting at its best.”

Presenters from some of the station’s best-loved shows gathered to mark the birthday at rehearsals for the RTÉ Concert Orchestra’s performance earlier this week, with Marty Whelan, Aedín Gormley, Paul Herriott, Niall Carroll, Liz Nolan and Lorcan Murray on hand to raise a cheer to RTÉ lyric fm

The concert will feature the music of Puccini, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Bizet, Morricone, Bernstein, John Williams, Strauss, Copland, Mascagni, Mancini and many more. Celebrating the joy of music and its power to connect, performers on the night include soprano Celine Byrne, tenor Emmet Cahill and the Our Lady Queen of Peace choir from Limerick who won the RTÉ lyric fm Choirs for Christmas competition in 2023.

Ann-Marie Power, Group Head of Arts and Culture said: "Lyric fm is at heart of RTÉ's arts and cultural offering for Irish audiences sitting alongside our TV programming, RTÉ Radio 1's Arena, live performances from the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, RTE.ie/culture, specialist folk and traditional music programmes and events such as Culture Night and the RTÉ Folk Awards. As the national public service media organisation, RTÉ is proud to provide a unique range of arts and cultural content and is delighted that audiences have connected and grown with lyric fm over the past 25 years and look forward to it continuing to flourish into the future."

As well as a host of much-loved favourites, the lyric's birthday concert will debut three new pieces of music that were commissioned by RTÉ lyric fm in their birthday year and written by Irish artists. The new works for orchestra focus on themes of nostalgia, hope and rebirth.

Limerick composer and Cranberries drummer Fergal Lawler's work The Curragower Falls reflects on memories of childhood by the River Shannon. Cork composer Paul Frost's A New Day Rising captures the feeling of waking up to a new day to the sounds of nature and the irrepressible sense of optimism. Dundalk composer and fiddle player Zoe Conway’s Bualadh an cheoil, bualadh an chroí (Music playing, heart beating) is about the powerful connection of Irish music to the body and dance.

Head of RTÉ lyric fm Sinéad Wylde said: "RTÉ lyric fm emerged from a chorus of birdsong on May 1st, 1999 and the celebration of our 25th birthday is a very nostalgic time for me, having been part of the original RTÉ lyric fm team. On behalf of everyone at lyric fm, I would like to thank our listeners on this special anniversary. We have grown and connected with our audience to become an integral part of our listeners' lives - birthdays, marriages, new beginnings, first days at school, the morning and evening commute, candlelit dinners, times of despair and times of happiness - RTÉ lyric fm is proud and privileged to provide the musical backdrop.

Central to our service is the experience of live music and we are dedicated to bringing the wonderful music making that takes place throughout the country in Cork, Wexford, Dublin, Limerick, Galway and elsewhere directly into our listeners' homes.

On this special anniversary, I would like to pay tribute to everyone at lyric fm, colleagues past and present who are dedicated to serving our listeners. From those who helped shape the identity of the station from the earliest days to the present. Our growing audience numbers reinforce the fact that RTÉ lyric fm has a valued place in the lives of Irish audiences."