RSNO’s New Home: New Ambitions

Project launched to deliver purpose-built Centre of Excellence for Scotland’s national orchestra

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) has announced details of its proposed move to the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Subject to planning approval the £14 million development will provide a world-class rehearsal space and learning centre, as well as a unique, desirable recital hall and performance space for the city of Glasgow.

The capital costs will be met by a £7 million grant to the RSNO from the Scottish Government and a £5 million allocation from Glasgow City Council towards the new centre of excellence. The remaining £2 million contribution towards building costs will be raised by the RSNO, which also plans to raise a further £1 million to equip the new building. This will offer benefits for the people of Scotland as well as providing world-class facilities to international artists and guests.

The Orchestra, Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government have been working together since 2010, preparing to build the flexible, multipurpose unit; a new rehearsal space which will also provide the City with a 600-seater auditorium, recording and broadcast facilities, a learning centre, office space and a redeveloped north entrance for the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

The new development will increase GRCH’s ability to service its patrons – the north of the building will be re-modelled to provide better access to the venue and the main auditorium will offer improved accommodation, catering facilities and acoustics.

The new facility will be connected to the east of the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, on Killermont Street, facing the city’s Buchanan Street Bus Station. The design of the development has been managed by Glasgow City Council’s lead architect Kerr Robertson and his team, whose previous experience includes the highly acclaimed remodelling of Glasgow’s City Halls. Subject to planning, building work is expected to commence in the autumn of 2012 with a target completion date of summer 2014, coinciding with Glasgow hosting the Commonwealth Games.

It is hoped that the development, once complete, will attract thousands of extra visitors per year to Glasgow’s landmark venue. In addition, the RSNO will have the potential to engage with a much greater number of people, through the ability to present high-quality, in-house education and community programmes. With the fit-out of the latest internet-based digital technology, the organisation’s musicians and singers will be able to connect with schools, music and community groups throughout Scotland and beyond. The RSNO moving to the city centre will benefit the local economy with the continued use of the neighbouring amenities by staff, musicians, junior and senior Chorus members and visiting artists.

The Glasgow Royal Concert Halls will still be managed by Glasgow Life and staff are working with promoters and other users of the venue to ensure that the work does not impact on upcoming, scheduled performances. Once complete, the move by the RSNO will complement a year-round programme of events, including Celtic Connections – which ended with another record-breaking run on Sunday.

RSNO Chief Executive Michael Elliott:

This is one of the most significant developments in the history of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra – and we want everyone to play their part in its success. By embarking on this venture, together with the outstanding support of Glasgow City Council, the Scottish Government and the RSNO’s loyal friends and supporters, we will be able to deliver a rehearsal space, education facility and recital venue which will be the envy of many in the UK and beyond . Furthermore, the new home will enable Scotland’s national orchestra to propel its performance and to engage and communicate with the citizens and communities of Scotland more effectively than ever.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop:

This project is part of the major regeneration work going on in Glasgow as a result of hosting the Commonwealth Games, which will create a lasting legacy for the people of Scotland beyond 2014. The new development will enhance facilities for audiences, performers, schools, music and community groups, as well as providing a much-needed new home for the RSNO. It will also be a showcase for Scotland’s world-renowned culture and creativity during the Commonwealth Games and the second Year of Homecoming, and contribute to the continuing vibrancy of Glasgow’s cultural life for years to come.

Leader of Glasgow City Council Gordon Matheson:

We’re delighted to be investing in one of Scotland’s premier performance spaces, which will create a centre of musical excellence for both the city and nation. These ambitious plans will help to realise new ambitions for the RSNO and enhance the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall as a world-class performance space. The physical refurbishment will also offer Glasgow Music greater flexibility in attracting both new and existing talent to the performance space.

RSNO’s most ambitious residency goes to Shetland in 2012

Scotland's national orchestra connects with Scotland's most northerly communities, from 1 to 5 March 2012

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) embarks on its most geographically ambitious residential endeavour in the UK – Out and About in Shetland – five days of rehearsals and performances, education and community activities, and workshops and masterclasses across the Islands from Thursday 1 to Monday 5 March 2012. in the Year of Creative Scotland, Out and About in Shetland forms the most northerly element of Music Nation, a UK-wide weekend of music making and the first nationwide countdown event to the London 2012 Festival.

Since 2004 Scotland's national orchestra has been committed to its Out and About programme – annual, week-long residencies in areas of the country which are not frequently visited by a national performing arts organisation. In partnership with Shetland Arts and supported by Creative Scotland; Loganair; TOTAL E&P UK Limited; Capital Solutions; NorthLink Ferries; and Shetland Islands Council, 70 RSNO musicians will journey from the Orchestra's base in Glasgow to the archipelago and integrate with the local communities by learning, creating and performing music.

The RSNO has been preparing for this trip for well over a year. In 2011 the RSNO commissioned Shetland-born composer and award-winning traditional fiddler Chris Stout to compose a substantial work for orchestra which will serve as the centrepiece of the Orchestra's Sunday evening concert.

Chris also wrote a motif which has been used as the starting point of a composition and performance project, driven by collaboration between RSNO and Shetland musicians. Four groups from the RSNO visited the Islands last October and made contact with a number of Shetland-based traditional musicians, armed with Chris Stout's 'musical kernel'. Since the initial visit the four groups have worked together with Chris in Shetland, in Glasgow and online, producing four distinct works inspired by his original melody.

Award-winning traditional musician and composer Chris Stout:

I'm delighted that the RSNO will be visiting Shetland. It's a nice feeling to know that the excitement and anticipation felt by the visiting musicians will be shared by the local community. This project allows musicians to share ideas on a huge scale and I'm certain everyone will come out of it feeling energised and fulfilled. It is this sense of sharing knowledge which has been the main inspiration behind my piece Tingaholm. Although it exists as a complete work it stays true to the tradition that I have been brought up with. It is open to the interpretation of some of the finest musicians in Shetland, in collaboration with members of the RSNO. I can't wait to hear the results!

On Friday 2 March the four ensembles will perform their new works as well as traditional tunes and contributions from the RSNO musicians at separate locations in Shetland's outer isles, each marking geographic points of the compass; Unst (Baltasound Junior High School), Out Skerries (Skerries Junior High School), Foula (Primary School) and Fair Isle (Primary School). They will perform concerts connected via live video link to each other as well as transmitted live to the Garrison Theatre, Lerwick for the enjoyment of those in Shetland's capital . The Outer Isles Project starts at 7.30pm and all associated events in the outer isles are free of charge.

The RSNO Brass Quintet will present Bigton Brass Concert, an afternoon programme featuring music by Bizet, Beethoven, Gershwin and Mancini, at Bigton Hall on Saturday from 3.00pm. Also on Saturday is Busta Recital; RSNO Violin Paul Medd will be performing a solo recital in the Long Room of the historic Busta House Hotel on the shore of Busta Voe. Tickets for both events are available from Shetland Box Office.

On Friday RSNO Leader James Clark will provide masterclasses for local young string players before they join the RSNO to perform at St Columba's Church, Lerwick on Saturday night. Members of the RSNO will also be offering mentoring opportunities to members of the Shetland Community Orchestra.

St Columba's Church, Lerwick on Saturday 3 March is the venue for the Big Kirk Chamber Concert, with the Orchestra's Leader James Clark joined by strings, brass and woodwind from the RSNO and local young musicians side-by-side. As part of the programme James will perform Mozart's First Violin Concerto which he previously performed at 2011's Edinburgh International Festival to universal critical acclaim. The concert starts at 7.30pm and tickets are available from Shetland Box Office.

The RSNO returns to its symphonic proportions for The Sunday Symphony, on 4 March at the Clickimin Leisure Complex, Lerwick – for the Orchestra's 21st anniversary since its last full performance in the town. The programme, conducted by Austrian David Danzmayr, includes Britten's Four Sea Interludes, Sibelius's Symphony No1 and the world première of Fair Isle-born musician Chris Stout's Tingaholm.

On Monday 5 March the full force of the visiting musicians will be heard once more, this time for the RSNO's schools concert Heroes and Rogues. One of the finest presenters and animateurs in the business, Paul Rissmann will guide the young concert-goers through a musical journey, exploring key musical concepts linked to the curriculum. The school groups attending the concert have been preparing for the visit by participating in an online workshop with Paul Rissmann and RSNO musicians using the online community for Scottish schools, Glow.

Two groups of RSNO musicians present specially adapted versions of the Orchestra's award-winning concert programme for pre-school children, Monster Music, at Brae High School, Clickimin Leisure Complex, Lerwick, Sandwick Junior High School and Mid Yell Community Hall.

Working with Shetland's Community Mental Health team, members of the Orchestra have devised a tailor-made creative workshop for patients, to be held at the Clickimin Centre on Saturday. RSNO musicians are also catering for those who are unable to attend the RSNO performances, with a number of informal performances planned in residential care homes across the islands during the visit.

Ellen Thomson, Director of Education and Community Partnerships:

Bringing together two fantastic musical traditions was the source of inspiration for the RSNO's Out and About week in Shetland and I am delighted that we've been able to do this in such a creative way. This project brings with it the usual RSNO ingredients, full orchestral concerts, inspirational music making for young people, tailor-made community workshops and small-scale performances as well as collaboration with some of Shetland's finest musicians.

Shetland Arts Director Gwilym Gibbons:

This is a hugely ambitious and exciting project and one that has been a long term ambition of Shetland Arts and the RSNO. I am delighted that Shetland Arts and RSNO are working in partnership to bring the orchestra to Shetland. It is very rare for a full symphony orchestra to commit to overcoming the enormous logistical challenge of getting to an island location like ours, let alone head out to our own outer isles of Fair Isle, Outer Skerries, Foula and Unst.

The RSNO is a national performing company supported by the Scottish Government. In addition to the valuable relationships with Shetland Arts, Creative Scotland, TOTAL E&P UK Limited, Loganair, Capital Solutions, NorthLink Ferries and Youth Music Initiative the RSNO would like to thank the Binks Trust and the Bacher Trust for their generous contributions to the project.

For more information on the activities of the RSNO during Out and About in Shetland go to www.rsno.org.uk or contact Shetland Box Office on 01595 745555 or www.shetlandboxoffice.org