125th Birthday for Scotland’s National Orchestra

125th Birthday for Scotland’s National Orchestra

RSNO embarks on a two-season quasquicentennial anniversary celebration

  • Scotland’s national orchestra, the third oldest continuously active professional orchestra in the UK, celebrates its 125th anniversary over two Seasons
  • The RSNO moves into its new, purpose-built rehearsal, performance and recording facility, The RSNO Centre
  • 2015:16 and 2016:17 Seasons will be headed by RSNO Music Director Peter Oundjian, with appearances from all members of Orchestra’s Artistic Team; Neeme Järvi, Walter Weller, Alexander Lazarev, Thomas Søndergård, Jean-Claude Picard and also former Music Director Stéphane Denève
  • Increased focus on artist collaboration and programme investigation, with Artist in Focus weeks and new performance strands, including Under The Skin of…andDiscover Days
  • Celebration of the music of Sergei Prokofiev and Cole Porter, who share their 125th anniversaries in 2016
  • Three large-scale choral works led by Peter Oundjian for the 2015:16 Season; Mahler Symphony No2 and Beethoven’s Symphony No9 bookend the orchestral year, with Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony featuring at the midpoint of the Season
  • Scottish premieres of James MacMillan’s The Death of Oscar and Little Mass, RSNO co-commissions
  • RSNO concert inaugurates new organ for the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
  • RSNO ensembles RSNO Alchemy and RSNO Chamber return in 2015:16 to present new series
  • Film music programming continues for 2015:16, with Heroes and Superheroes, and the return of The Music of John Williams and to precede the new Season a partnership with Edinburgh International Film Festival, presenting Back to the Future with live orchestral soundtrack to celebrate the movie’s 30th anniversary

Scotland’s oldest performing arts organisation, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO), celebrates its 125th anniversary over two seasons, starting with the 2015:16 Season, commencing October 2015.

Officially formed in 1891 as an orchestra in its own right, rather than accompanists for the Glasgow Choral Union, the RSNO now enjoys the position as Scotland’s national orchestra, and in recent years has performed such functions as opening the Scottish Parliament, recording Scotland’s unofficial national anthem Flower of Scotland for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games medal ceremonies, and hosting the unveiling of the Ryder Cup teams at the SSE Hydro last year. Now the Orchestra firmly positions itself to meet the evolving demands of the music-loving public of Scotland, and in the coming orchestral year the Season is augmented by new programme strands, greater artist and partner collaboration and increased opportunities to access live symphonic music.

RSNO Music Director Peter Oundjian:

“I’m sure those who participated in the first Scottish Orchestra concert would never have dreamed that there would be an ensemble, carrying its history and unique tradition, one hundred and twenty-five years later, and yet here we are, celebrating a century and a quarter of making music as one of Scotland’s most attended performing arts institutions. We have made a concerted effort over the past few years to provide unprecedented access to what is one of the country’s most important cultural assets, but with the completion of our new premises comes a renewed drive to open our doors as never before, so you will notice a greater emphasis on integration, collaboration, learning and engagement connecting our programming. This is perhaps the most diverse and accessible this Orchestra has ever been, supported by the fact that last year more households in Scotland attended an RSNO performance or activity.

“It is an honour, a privilege and also a responsibility to be leading our national orchestra throughout this momentous occasion, and it is fitting that we both celebrate the past and look to the future, paving the way for another 125 years of glorious music-making.”

RSNO Acting Chief Executive Kenneth Osborne:

“We are delighted to be celebrating our 125th anniversary with current and past artistic teams, our choruses, returning well-loved soloists, Scotland’s pre-eminent composer, the many organisations we collaborate with, and our supporters and audiences whom we serve.

“As well as celebrating our rich heritage we continue to look forward. We are continuing to develop and diversify our programming, to attract new audiences and deepen the experience of existing audiences through new performance strands such as Under the Skin of, and developments such as Artist in Focus and Discover Day. These new programmes though are just a taster of the new activity for both Glasgow and the whole of Scotland which we will be developing in our new RSNO Centre, and we will be announcing more on this in the coming months. It is an exciting time for the orchestra and all those we work with and work for.”

A main thrust of the RSNO’s strategy going forward is to make connections; connections with other partners to present appealing events, connections with artists to develop relationships with musicians and audiences, and connections in music, providing greater opportunity to discover more from well-loved concert repertoire as well as encouraging new discoveries.

One key event to take place this year - which will allow the Orchestra to connect with more people - will be the celebration of the opening of its new premises; a purpose built 600-seater performance, recording and rehearsal space, to be called The RSNO Centre, at the heart of the cultural quarter in Glasgow’s city centre. The RSNO will become neighbours with Scottish Opera, the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the Glasgow School of Art. Forging partnerships has been a central drive of the Orchestra in recent years, and this move will provide further opportunities to collaborate with others.

The 2015:16 Season

Mahler’s Symphony No2 Resurrection and Beethoven’s Symphony No9 Ode to Joy frame the new Season, with participation from a superlative cast of soloists and the RSNO Chorus, under new guidance from recently appointed Chorus Director Greg Batsleer, who recently won the 2015 Arts Foundation Award in January this year. The Chorus also joins the Orchestra for performances of Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No1 A Sea Symphony halfway through the Season.

Well-loved works such as Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No5, Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Mozart’s Symphony No41 Jupiter, Beethoven’s Symphony No8, Berlioz’ Symphonie fantastique and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring all share Season space with less frequently performed pieces, such as Shostakovich’s Symphonies No6 and No8, Szymanowski’s Symphony No4 Symphonie concertante, and Schubert’s Third and Fourth Symphonies.

RSNO Artistic Team and Visiting Conductors

To celebrate the 125th anniversary of Scotland’s national orchestra it will be welcoming the return of its entire Artistic Team over the two-year celebration.

RSNO Music Director Peter Oundjian will lead the celebrations by conducting three major choral works, Mahler’s Symphony No2 Resurrection to open, Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No1 A Sea Symphony in February, and closing 2015:16 with Beethoven’s Symphony No9 Ode to Joy. Peter will also revisit well-loved symphonic music as well as introduce works which will be new to many. Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No5 sits alongside Brett Dean’s Viola Concerto, with Brett Dean as soloist. Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet shares the billing with Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasy, with Xiayin Wang performing Khachaturian’s Piano Concerto. Peter also conducts his first Mozart Symphony with the RSNO, No41 K551 Jupiter, preceded by Vilde Frang performing Brahms Violin Concerto and Webern’s Langsamer Satz. The partnership of Peter Oundjian and Nicola Benedetti MBE continues for the coming Season, with the Scottish soloist performing Szymanowski’s Violin Concerto No2 for the first time in her home country. This is followed by the Scottish premiere of James MacMillan’s Little Mass, for Orchestra and Young Voices, and Berlioz’ Symphonie fantastique. Peter also presents an evening of 20th century Russian reperoire, with Nikolai Lugansky on keys, Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No2 to commence, with Shostakovich’s Symphony No8 to conclude.

For RSNO Principal Guest Conductor Thomas Søndergård’s first of four 2015:16 programmes he and the Orchestra will be joined by pianist Dejan Lazić who will perform both the overture from his Piano Concerto in Istrian Style, and Chopin’s Piano Concerto No2, sharing the evening’s programme with Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’sPictures at an Exhibition. In March Thomas’ second RSNO programme of the Season features returning pianist Igor Levit for Mozart’s Piano Concerto No12 K414 and Szymanowski’s Symphony No4 Symphonie concertante, more a piano concerto than a symphony, and Beethoven’s Symphony No8. Then in late spring 2016 Thomas presents The Stravinsky Project, a two-part exploration of some of the composer’s most diverse and pioneering works. The first week pairs Stravinsky’s Symphony in C and Symphony in Three Movement’s with Schubert’s Symphony No3 and No4 Tragic. In week two of the Stravinsky Project, Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring follows Stefan Jackiw’s performance of Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto and, to start, Bartok’s Suite from The Miraculous Mandarin.

RSNO Conductor Emeritus Alexander Lazarev returns in April 2016 for Prokofiev’s Cinderella suite, Rachmaninov’s Carpice bohemian, and, with Nikolai Lugansky, Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No4 (for the Left Hand).

RSNO Assistant Conductor Jean-Claude Picard marks his final year with the RSNO with a programme featuring Richard Strauss’ Suite from Der Rosenkavalier, the Adagiettofrom Mahler’s Symphony No5, Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italien, and, with soloist Boris Giltburg, Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No2. Jean-Claude also leads the Orchestra and soprano Ailish Tynan in a New Year programme of Viennese fayre, visiting Dunfermline, Langholm, Inverness, and, for the first time in a few years, Forfar and Stirling.

In April 2016 former RSNO Music Director Stéphane Denève makes his first return journey to the RSNO since his departure in 2012. Ravel’s La Valse and Piano Concerto for the Left Hand (with arguably Scotland’s greatest concert pianist, Steven Osborne) feature alongside Debussy’s Marche ecossaise, Richard Strauss’ Death and Transfiguration, and the UK premiere of James MacMillan’s The Death of Oscar.

For the 2016:17 Season RSNO Conductor Emeritus Walter Weller and RSNO Conductor Emeritus Neeme Järvi return. Details of the 2016:17 Season will be announced next year.

Jun Märkl, Jaime Martin, Christopher Bell and Richard Kaufman are four returning conductors for 2015:16, with the remainder making their RSNO debuts; Cristian Măcelaru, Matthew Halls, Clemens Schuldt, Carlos Miguel Prieto, Wayne Marshall and Otto Tausk all new to leading Scotland’s national orchestra.

Shared Anniversaries

The RSNO shares its anniversary with composers Sergei Prokofiev and Cole Porter, both born in 1891. Prokofiev and Porter’s works will feature throughout the new Season, with much of Prokofiev’s an element of a wider exponent of a dance theme. The RSNO will be performing two of his ballet works; Cinderella and Romeo and Juliet, as well as all three Piano Concertos across 2016, with long-time RSNO associate, pianist Nikolai Lugansky.

Weeks away from his 125th anniversary day, The Cole Porter Songbook Anniversary Gala in May celebrates the wit, charm and style of one of the doyens of musical theatre. Pianist and conductor Wayne Marshall is joined by West End star Kim Criswell for a tribute evening to the great American composer.

Artists in Focus

New for 2015:16 Scotland’s national orchestra invites soloists to develop their connection with the country’s audiences through multiple performances across the Season and through increased, often themed, collaboration. In the first year, the RSNO further develops its relationship with leading international - and familiar face to RSNO audiences - pianist Nikolai Lugansky, as the Russian performs all of Prokofiev’s four piano concertos across 2016.

Nikolai is just one of the three artists participating in the new Artist in Focus series. Contemporary Australian composer, violist and conductor Brett Dean joins Peter Oundjian and the Orchestra as both soloist and composer, performing his Viola Concerto, a Scottish premiere. Brett will also be joining the RSNO Chamber ensemble that week, as well as hosting pre-concert talks. Russian-born Israeli pianist Boris Giltburg makes his RSNO début in February and will be the soloist for the Valentine’s programme, performing Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No2, will return two weeks later to play Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No3, and will also feature in the RSNO Chamber Series.

More Guest Artists

A mixture of the welcomingly familiar and refreshingly new in terms of visiting soloists in 2015:16.

The RSNO welcomes back pianist Xiayin Wang to perform Khachaturian’s Piano Concerto. Her RSNO and Scottish début in 2013 was met with universal critical acclaim, and together with the Orchestra and Peter Oundjian recorded the piano concertos of Gershwin, Barber and Copland for the Chandos label. Norwegian violinist Vilde Frangreturns to Scotland, this time for Brahms’ Violin Concerto, as does Latvian Baiba Skride, to open the first of December’s RSNO concerts with Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto.

Thierry Escaich is a prominent name in organ and improvisation, and a most appropriate guest artist to join the Orchestra for the inaugural concert for the brand new organ, installed at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. For this occasion he will perform Poulenc’s Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani, and Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No3. The programme is dedicated to The Merchants House of Glasgow and its benefactors for their support which has enabled the purchase of the new organ. This programme will also appear at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh the previous evening.

The American violinist Stefan Jackiw has already created a huge following during his short career. Making his RSNO debut in May 2016, he performs Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto.

Soprano Valentina Farcas and mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly are the soloists for the opening concert of the new Season, Mahler’s Symphony No2 Resurrection. SopranoAilish Tynan appears for the second year running, this time in two separate programmes; the six-date regional tour of the Viennese Gala and the New Year performance of Handel’s Messiah in Glasgow. Matthew Brook and conductor Matthew Halls. Soprano Katherine Broderick and baritone Benedict Nelson are the soloists for Vaughan Williams Symphony No1 A Sea Symphony. For the final concert of the 2015:16 Season, soprano Marita Sølberg, mezzo-soprano Renata Pokupić, tenor Ben Johnson and bass-baritone Iain Paterson share the platform with the Orchestra, Music Director Peter Oundjian and the RSNO Chorus, for Richard Strauss’ Four Last Songs, preceding Beethoven’s Symphony No9 Ode to Joy.

Under The Skin of…

Also new for 2015:16 is the exploratory forum Under The Skin of…, which will investigate select composers featured during the Season. The first of these will be piloted in the RSNO’s new auditorium, will be led by Scottish broadcaster and presenter Sandy Burnett, and will in its first orchestral year look at Tchaikovsky (Tuesday 6 October) and Stravinsky (Tuesday 3 May) with the backing of full symphony orchestra.

Discover Days

A further new development for 2015:16 is RSNO Discover Days, the first of these to be held at the University of Edinburgh and at the new RSNO Centre in Glasgow in November. Each RSNO Discover Day will be led by an RSNO musician or invited guest, where the group will take an in-depth look at the works and related contexts of a featured composer, in the first instance Sergei Prokofiev and a focus on his masterpiece Romeo and Juliet. Tickets cost £25 and include lunch and refreshments.

Film, Festive Music

The Orchestra’s film music programmes, re-launched in 2013, have proved a valuable way of introducing live orchestral music to new audiences. This continues for 2015:16 and the RSNO further cements its continuing relationship with conductor/presenter Richard Kaufman, presenting for the third year running the hugely successful The Music of John Williams in February 2016, and also Hollywood Heroes and Superheroes in March 2016.

The RSNO Christmas Concerts are now embedded as a traditional marking of the Scottish festive season. Christopher Bell conducts the Orchestra for the occasion, with seasonal fayre and the screening of Raymond Briggs’ classic animation, The Snowman, with guest star narrator.

Classic FM Hall of Fame

In June, 2002 winner of the BBC Young Musician of the Year Jennifer Pike is joined by Dutch conductor Otto Tausk and Classic FM’s Orchestra in Scotland for an evening of some of the most unashamedly popular orchestral classics as voted by the UK’s most listened-to classical radio station.

Children’s Classic Concerts

The RSNO continues to be Children’s Classic Concerts’ orchestra of choice for performances in the central belt, and for 2015:16 Season they will partner to present two programmes; Magic and Monsters at the end of October/beginning of November, and in December a festive musical feast, Owen and Olly’s Christmas Stocking. For more information on CCC events please visit www.childrensclassicconcerts.co.uk.

RSNO Ensembles

Over the past five years the RSNO has strived to provide more opportunities to experience music outside the familiar arenas. One way was to develop its ensemble strategy, and the first step was the Chamber Music Series, now in its fourth year. In Edinburgh the partnership with Dovecot Theatre continues to progress, while in Glasgow St Mary’s Cathedral and Cottier’s Theatre have hosted RSNO Chamber performances. This Season two soloists, violist Brett Dean and pianist Boris Giltburg, perform with the full symphony orchestra and also appear in the Chamber Series.

From October 2015 the RSNO’s new performance space will be the base for future chamber events. Similarly the recently launched semi-improvisational ensemble RSNO Alchemy with its Director Peter Wiegold will make the new space its permanent home.

RSNO Partnerships

The RSNO is supported by the Scottish Government and local authorities in Scotland.

Partnerships are crucial to the work of the RSNO and we aim to facilitate national and local partnerships with cultural, commercial, public, charitable and community organisations in order to increase and sustain the impact, reach, reputation and contribution of the Orchestra’s work.

The RSNO continues to strengthen its reputation for delivering rewarding programmes for its corporate partners, helping to build profile, serve local communities, reward staff and generate exciting stories.

Scotland’s national orchestra is delighted to continue its association with Brewin Dolphin this year. This partnership began in 2014 when we announced Brewin Dolphin as a new partner and headline sponsor of Brewin Dolphin presents Music at the Museum, the RSNO’s annual performance at Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum. This successful collaboration will continue in 2015 alongside an expansion of the programme to include headline sponsorship of the prestigious, sell-out concert, Oundjian and Benedetti. The Brewin Dolphin Glasgow office has a full investment and financial planning team of 32 and manages over £1 billion of private client funds.

The RSNO's partnership with TOTAL E&P UK Limited is now in its twelfth year, testimony to the mutual benefits derived from the alliance. Since the departure of former RSNO Music Director Stéphane Denève and the conclusion of the TOTAL Denève series, the partnership has evolved to support community projects in the North-East of Scotland. Our most recent collaboration, a project for 0-2 years olds, named Nickum (Doric for “little rascal”) recently won an award at the Arts and Business Awards in the People category. The partnership was praised for the way in which it harnessed the power of culture to engage with the people in the wider community.

The RSNO's successful partnership with The Miller Group (now Miller Homes) enters its sixth year with the development of its pioneering programme of musical activities, working with Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS) and children and families in Rachel House children's hospice in Fife and Robin House hospice in Balloch. The partnership was commended in the community category of the Arts & Business Scotland Awards 2013.

The RSNO’s partnership with Glasgow Airport enters its sixth year following last year’s successful project which saw the RSNO stage two performances in Glasgow Airport’s main terminal to celebrate the conclusion of the XX Commonwealth Games. As part of this project, we were delighted to welcome special guest Sarah Clark, Scottish champion and gold medallist who led the Orchestra is a rendition of The Corries’ Flower of Scotland.

The RSNO welcomes the sixth year of the Orchestra's association with La Bonne Auberge, a partnership which supports Children's Classic Concerts.

The RSNO will also continue its successful relationship with Capital Document Solutions, a partnership now in its seventh year, which presents creative marketing opportunities for both partners.

In 2015/16 the RSNO continues its collaboration with Classic FM, proud to be Classic FM’s Orchestra in Scotland. In 2014 we celebrated the tenth anniversary of the successful partnership with a special live broadcast from Scotland.

The RSNO would like to thank its sponsors, corporate donors, corporate partners, media and broadcast partners and project partners who make a crucial contribution to the work of the Orchestra.

Principal Sponsors: TOTAL E&P UK Limited, Brewin Dolphin, Capital Documents Solutions, Miller Homes, The Weir Group, La Bonne Auberge, Cameron House on Loch Lomond, Glasgow Airport, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co, Valvona & Crolla, Prestonfield.

Principal Media Partner: Classic FM

Broadcast Partner: BBC Radio 3

Media Partners: The Courier, The Press and Journal.

Transport Partners: Douglas Park BMW, Park’s Motor Group

Corporate Partners: First Rule Investment Consultancy Ltd, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, Institute of Directors, Scots Magazine, The Scottish Council for Development & Industry, Smart Graphics.

Chair Sponsors: Cadenhead’s, Mitchell’s Glengyle, Springbank Distillery Ltd.

Project Partners: Children’s Hospice Association Scotland, Culture Republic, Drake Music Scotland, Highland Council, Horsecross Arts, National Trust for Scotland, National Youth Choir of Scotland, PreSonus, Young Scot, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care, Skills Development Scotland, Starcatchers.

Subscription booking for the RSNO 2015:16 Seasons in Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow opens on Wednesday 18 March, 2015. Single tickets are on sale from Tuesday 5 May, although RSNO Circle members can priority book from Monday 27 April 2015.

For more information on the RSNO, including how to book tickets, go to www.rsno.org.uk. You can keep up-to-date with the Orchestra’s movements on Twitter (@rsno) and on Facebook.