RSNO and SCO announce 2nd Aberdeen Concert Series

2012/13 Series unveiled, following success of inaugural season

Following the success of the first Aberdeen Concert Series, launched by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) and Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO) in 2011, the two orchestras announced the details of the 2012/13 Series today (21 March).

The Series offers concert attenders at the Music Hall a broad variety of orchestral performances with world-class soloists and conductors in a single season package. Those who take out a subscription for the series gain through ease of booking and substantial subscription discounts, and receive all the latest news and exclusive offers in a special bi-annual newsletter produced by the two orchestras. Such benefits proved popular with concert goers in the North East in the inaugural Series with subscriber numbers increasing by 10%.

The 2012/13 Series offers an extensive range of repertoire, and visits by the new RSNO Music Director Peter Oundjian and SCO Principal Conductor Robin Ticciati who are joined by some of the world's finest musicians: pianists Piotr Anderszewski, Richard Egarr and Artur Pizarro; violinists Vadim Gluzman and Alexander Janiczek; cellist Ralph Kirshbaum; guitarist Miloš Karadaglić; the great lieder baritone Matthias Goerne and guest conductors Joseph Swensen, John Storgårds, Gilbert Varga and Philippe Bach.

The Aberdeen Concert Series opens with the RSNO's new Music Director Peter Oundjian recognising the Orchestra’s heritage as an internationally-respected performer and recorder of the symphonic works of Dmitri Shostakovich, with a performance of his Eleventh Symphony. Vadim Gluzman, who performed with the RSNO and Peter in March 2010, returns to perform Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto on the violin the composer intended the première of the concerto to be performed on, the ex-Leopold Auer Stradivari. Glinka’s Overture to Russlan and Ludmilla opens the programme.

Saturday 27 October marks the SCO's first performance of the Concert Series. Popular Conductor Emeritus Joseph Swensen directs Walton's Two Pieces from Henry V and Schumann's final symphony, Symphony No 3 'Rhenish'. American cellist Ralph Kirshbaum performs Barber's concerto, a work he recorded with the SCO in the 1980s.

The SCO is joined by three great keyboard players in its concerts in December, January and February. Artur Pizarro plays Beethoven's Second Concerto in a programme which also includes Mendelssohn's 'Reformation' Symphony and the UK premiere of renowned Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara's Into the Heart of Light, conducted by his fellow countryman John Storgårds. In 1999, the SCO gave the premiere of Rautavaara's Autumn Gardens at the BBC Proms and performed the work again in concerts in Scotland during the 1999/2000 Season.

SCO Associate Artist Richard Egarr is soloist in January for a rare performance of Dussek’s Piano Concerto in G minor Op 49. Jan Ladislav Dussek was a colourful contemporary of Haydn whose admirers included Catherine the Great of Russia and Napoleon Bonaparte. Egarr also conducts works by Beethoven and Schubert. In February, another pianist / director, regular SCO collaborator Piotr Anderszewski, performs two Mozart concertos – No 23 in A K488 and No 25 in C K503. In the same programme, SCO Associate Artist Alexander Janiczek directs works by Schubert and Beethoven from the violin.

Principal Conductor Robin Ticciati conducts the SCO's last concert in the Series in March, in a programme which celebrates the magnificent, musical city of Vienna. He pairs Schubert's Symphony No 5 with the Adagietto from Mahler’s Symphony No 5, and is joined by the great German lieder baritone Matthias Goerne in Schubert songs orchestrated by Webern, Brahms and Reger.

The RSNO's annual Christmas Concert has become part of the festive tradition and this year the family-friendly concert, led by conductor Christopher Bell, is packed with favourite melodies and sing-along carols. The first half of the concert features a special screening of Raymond Briggs' The Snowman with the Orchestra accompanying the animation with Howard Blake’s iconic score.

Montenegrin guitarist Miloš Karadaglic has risen to superstardom in recent years and was the best-selling classical artist of 2011. In April he joins the RSNO for the first time for a performance of Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez. Gilbert Varga returns to conduct a Mediterranean-rich programme; Martucci's Notturno Op 70 No 1 and also Respighi which opens and closes the programme – Ancient Airs and Dances Suite No1 and Roman Festivals.

The RSNO's Naked Classics concert presentation enters its second year in Aberdeen and elsewhere has developed a loyal following whilst appealing to those new to live orchestral music, through its informal, lively and impassioned presentation. It brings the Aberdeen Concert Series to a close in May when Paul Rissmann presents an animated exploration of the music of Wagner's epic Ring Cycle.

Complementing the SCO's performances in the Aberdeen Concert Series, the Orchestra also visits Aberdeenshire during its Scottish summer touring schedule and offers a weekend of music-making for amateur musicians in the North East. SCO Wind and Brass gives a concert of music by Prokofiev, Mozart, Seiber and Borodin at Woodend Barn in Banchory on Thursday 21 June 2012. SCO Connect, the Orchestra's education and outreach department, returns to Aberdeen with its popular Scrapers and Tooters: an opportunity for amateur musicians to come together in a relaxed and informal environment for a weekend of coaching and performance with musicians from the SCO and conductor Ben Gernon. Scrapers and Tooters takes place at Queen's Cross Church on the 27/28 October 2012.

SCO Chief Executive Roy McEwan:

As we move into the later stages of the present season, which has marked the first joint series in Aberdeen by the SCO and RSNO, it is clear that it has been a great success. What we are announcing now - a tremendous range of repertoire and international conductors and soloists - will take this collaboration further, ensuring that both orchestras continue to serve the people of the North East of Scotland with a fine season of great music.

RSNO Chief Executive Michael Elliott:

We welcome the SCO's commitment to partner the RSNO in the promotion of this series and the provision of classical music in Aberdeen. Together we have provided what we hope will be an intriguing, diverse selection with much-improved access for young people and very significant subscriber incentives. We look forward to welcoming many more music-lovers to the Music Hall.

Backstage Pass to 2012:13 Season Launch Subscriber’s Event

It's a busy time for the RSNO and, with the joint launch of our new Season and our fantastic new website, we thought: what better for the first blog than a backstage pass into our 2012:13 Season subscriber's event at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

As Marketing and Development Assistant, I have watched both of these significant events come to fruition over the past months. Tonight is a really exciting evening as this is the first time many special friends and supporters of the Orchestra will meet Peter Oundjian, the RSNO's new Music Director. He's been with us for a couple of days and has already been recording with the musicians, has met the RSNO board and members of the press, and been on a whirl-wind tour of some of Scotland's most beautiful scenery. Now it's the audience's turn, in what promises to be one of the highlights of our exclusive subscriber calendar – here we go!

A fantastic turn out! The evening begins with a short video of Season highlights before RSNO Chief Executive, Mick Elliott, takes to the stage to share some of the treats we can find in 2012:13 and to introduce the two new members of the RSNO artistic team, Music Director Peter Oundjian and Principal Guest Conductor Thomas Søndergård. From the audience's reaction, Orff's Carmina Burana, one of our Choral Classics in November and, of course, RSNO favourite John Lill who is to perform Grieg's Piano Concerto will really draw a crowd.

RSNO Principal Cello Aleksei Kiseliov is welcomed to the stage to perform the first movement of Dvořák's Cello Concerto. He absolutely wows the crowd and deserves his applause, a truly exceptional musician! In next season's penultimate concert, conducted by Thomas Søndergård, Norwegian cellist Truls Mørk will perform the entire work with the Orchestra.

And now the moment everybody has been waiting for. Peter enters the stage and is joined by Anne-Marie Minhall from Classic FM for an intimate conversation – in front of all the subscribers!

As the conversation gets going it is clear that Peter is a very intelligent and charismatic new addition to the team – no wonder the Orchestra has grown so fond of him during his guest appearances. Although obviously fond of his years as a violinist, it seems that Peter was destined for a career in conducting. From a childhood encounter with Benjamin Britten (who visited his choir and subsequently requested to work with them in a number of projects) to the incredible experience, in Peter's Julliard days, when the late Maestro Herbert von Karajan invited Peter, then the concertmaster of the Julliard Orchestra, to conduct in his place in front of a crowd full of New York's musical elite who were there to watch Karajan! Karajan even covered the music as Peter conducted – showing the faith he had in Peter's knowledge and understanding of the music and his ability as a conductor. A true honour.

As the questioning turns to Peter's plans for the RSNO and his experience so far, he is full of fondness and affection for his new orchestra. He comments that the Orchestra has 'special generosity and warmth' and 'respect for the style and the music they are performing'. He also tells us that he has big plans for developing the important younger audience group. He speaks highly of our Naked Classics series and joins in the audience's laughter at the prospect of dissecting and performing Wagner's Ring in one evening! (We will be turning to the lighter de Vlieger Orchestral Adventure adaptation in our final Naked Classics concert of the 2012:13 Season.) Peter remembers the first time he conducted the RSNO, in Britten's Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes, and is delighted to announce that he will perform the piece again in his second concert as Music Director. He speaks passionately of the work of his friend John Adams, whose work features in both Peter's American Festival concerts, and also of Shostakovich. The composer is already an RSNO favourite and Peter is keen to continue this relationship. He opens the Season with Shostakovich's Eleventh Symphony which he describes as his 'most engaging work' and 'one of the most powerful experiences in music'. There is no doubt that Peter has put plently of consideration into his opening Season and that audiences are definitely in for a treat!

Following tremendous applause for Peter and Anne-Marie, we are lead down to the Exhibition Hall for a glass of wine and so everyone can get their coveted Season Brochure. This is the first glimpse that anyone has had at the brochure and that's really important to many people here. There's no messing about – people are requesting extra brochures for friends and family and huddling in corners to plot and plan their concerts!

Following a quick chat with tonight's guests I have received a really positive response to the event and to Peter particularly. One subscriber mentioned her apprehension as someone replacing the beloved Stéphane but thought Peter was fantastic and said she was very impressed by him. Another commented on Peter's ability to continue Stéphane's rapport and relationship with the audiences. Many more commented on their favourites of next Season, with Shostakovich's Symphony No11 and Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez both highly anticipated. Our New Home project is also a talking point as never-before-seen images have been placed in the centre of the room. As the crowds move out I catch some final thoughts for the night. All our guests seem to have really valued the event and I'm looking forward to seeing many of them again next Season. Some I've spoken to tonight have been subscribers for years and were ready to tick every concert when they arrived; others were newer to the game and plan to book their tickets early to get a discount.

It's events like this when I really love working for an orchestra – seeing many people brought together by an appreciation of music. And how lucky we are to have access to the talent and repertoire that I had the chance to explore tonight. Here's to another successful year for the RSNO!

Posted by Clare Campbell - Marketing and Development Assistant

Peter Oundjian leads new artistic team at RSNO for 2012:13 Season

  • Peter Oundjian succeeds Stéphane Denève as Music Director
  • New Principal Guest Conductor, Thomas Søndergård, also joins the team
  • Season highlights include Shostakovich 11; a two-part American Music Festival; Mendelssohn’s Elijah with Sir Andrew Davis; complete Má vlast with co-commissioned visuals; Carmina Burana; Season Finale Gala with Nicola Benedetti double bill; Walton’s Henry V with guest actor
  • Naked Classics continues in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen; RSNO Chamber Series in Edinburgh and Glasgow
  • Continued collaboration with SCO following successful first season of Aberdeen Concert Series

There is such a thing as the Peter Oundjian sound. It is all about clear, unaffected interpretation. (Toronto Star)

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) welcomes British-Canadian conductor Peter Oundjian, who succeeds Stéphane Denève as RSNO Music Director, as it announces its 121st Season. Peter’s arrival signifies a new direction in artistic programming coupled with an emphasis on ensemble development.

Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård is welcomed to the RSNO family, as he takes up the specially-revived position of Principal Guest Conductor. He presents three programmes in his first year. His appointment follows the recent arrival of two new Leaders, a new Principal Cello and Principal Second Violin.

Over the past 12 months the RSNO has continued to grow its audience base. The number of top-level subscribers in Glasgow has doubled and in Edinburgh supporters who subscribe to all Season concerts has increased by 61%. Performances in the first half of the 2011:12 Season also experienced an average occupancy of over 80%. The coming orchestral year signals the future artistic direction of the Orchestra, playing to the strengths of the newly assembled artistic team, whilst continuing to nurture the growing appeal of Scotland’s national orchestra.

RSNO Music Director Designate Peter Oundjian:

It is my great pleasure to be welcomed as part of the RSNO team. I warmly salute the extraordinary achievements of my predecessor Stéphane Denève and wish him all the success in the future. Now, with Thomas’s arrival coinciding with mine, and the ensemble gearing up for a new and exciting chapter, we are very well placed to continue building the excellence of our music making and extending our musical offering to audiences and communities across Scotland.

RSNO Chief Executive Michael Elliott:

Peter’s arrival is a significant step in RSNO history. He and the RSNO share an ambition to excel and inspire with our music and music making, to reach new audiences and local communities, build innovative partnerships and be at the heart of Scotland’s cultural renaissance.

RSNO Leader James Clark:

I have been fortunate to have developed my own relationship with the musicians of the RSNO at a time of powerful metamorphosis within this already strong organisation. The development and nurture of the musicians has been put at the very heart of the organisation’s strategy. Augmented with excellent appointments to the Orchestra over the past 12 months means there is a strong sense we are preparing ourselves for a remarkable chapter in the band’s history.

In his inaugural concert as Music Director, Peter Oundjian turns to the Shostakovich’s overwhelmingly powerful Symphony No11, recognising both the RSNO’s great history of performing and recording that composer, and his own passion for Shostakovich. A central pillar of Peter’s first season is a two-part celebration of transatlantic repertoire, An American Festival. It includes such works as Bernstein’s Overture to Candide, Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F, John Adams’ Harmonilehre and more recent Doctor Atomic Symphony, Copland’s Appalachian Spring and both Barber and Copland’s Piano Concertos. Among the other key highlights of Peter’s season is a concert in which he returns to the first work he performed with the RSNO, ten years ago, Britten’s Four Sea Interludes paired with Brahms’ Symphony No1; Carl Orff’s cantata Carmina Burana with the massed force of the RSNO, its Chorus and Junior Chorus; and, Smetana’s Má Vlast, with specially-created photo-choreographed projections by award-winning New York artist James Westwater, jointly commissioned in a first collaboration between both of Peter’s Orchestras, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and RSNO. Peter finishes the season with a gala concert with Nicola Benedetti (Vaughan Williams The Lark Ascending and Saint-Saëns Introduction and Rondo capriccioso) and Walton’s score for the Oscar-winning film Henry V, with a guest actor.

Thomas Søndergård begins his tenure as RSNO Principal Guest Conductor with a programme that forges links with the Orchestra’s provenance. He follows the great Sibelian, former RSNO Principal Guest Conductor Paavo Berglund, with whom Thomas studied. His first concerts present Sibelius’ Second Symphony, accompanied by The Garden of Delights by contemporary Swedish composer B Tommy Andersson and a pair of Mahler’s works, early composition Blumine and his first song-cycle, Songs of a Wayfarer. He re-joins presenter Paul Rissmann and the musicians in November for an investigation of Berlioz’ Symphonie fantastique, part of the Naked Classics series. In May, Thomas conducts Stravinsky’s riotous ballet music Petroushka, preceded by Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with fellow Scandinavian Truls Mørk as soloist.

Conductor Laureate Neeme Järvi celebrates a forty-five year association with his Scottish orchestra, returning in March for performances of Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Symphony, Arensky’s Variation on a theme of Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No3 with multiple award-winning recording artist Nikolai Lugansky.

Christian Kluxen concludes his three-year term as Assistant Conductor with three programmes: Romantic Valentine’s Classics in February; with British pianist John Lill for Grieg’s Piano Concerto, paired with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No1 Winter Dreams, and Lars-Erik Larsson’s En vintersaga; and Stravinsky’s Firebird in the second Naked Classics of the series.

Guest Conductors

The Orchestra continues its flourishing partnership with Sir Andrew Davis and in May the RSNO, RSNO Chorus and Junior Chorus present Mendelssohn’s Elijah. Opéra National de Lyon Principal Conductor Kazushi Ono leads the RSNO for the first time in Richard Strauss’ tone poem Also sprach Zarathustra. Russian maestro Andrey Boreyko returns to Scotland at the beginning of 2013 to perform Dvořák’s Symphony No8 and Dima Siobodeniouk makes his début on the podium with an all-Beethoven programme. Paul Agnew conducts Handel’s Messiah, this time in the spring, Philippe Bach leads the Orchestra for Henk de Vlieger’s condensed arrangement of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, The Ring, an Orchestral Adventure and Gilbert Varga returns to conduct a Mediterranean-rich programme including Respighi’s Ancient Airs and Dances Suite No1 and Roman Festivals.

Guest Soloists

String soloists familiar to RSNO audiences bookend the 2012:13 Season with Vadim Gluzman performing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in the opening concert, Nicola Benedetti presenting a double bill of Vaughan Williams The Lark Ascending and Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo capriccioso. Cellist Truls Mørk returns for Dvořák’s Concerto in the penultimate programme, while earlier in the Season Montenegrin guitarist Miloš Karadaglic, the best-selling classical artist of 2011, makes his RSNO début with Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez.

Pianists are a blend of familiar and new; John Lill returns to plays Grieg’s Concerto and Nicolai Lugansky follows the previous year’s acclaimed appearance, performing Prokofiev No3. Jon Kimura Parker makes a long-awaited return to play Gershwin’s Concerto in F. New to the RSNO are Natasha Paremski (Rachmaninov Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini), Rafał Blechacz (Schumann Piano Concerto), Saleem Abboud Ashkar (Mozart Piano Concerto No23), Olga Kern (Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No2), Rudolf Buchbinder (Beethoven Concerto No3) and Xiayin Wang (Barber and Copland Concertos).

It is a rich season for vocal soloists. British Baritone Roderick Williams sings Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer, Valentina Farcas (soprano), Daniel Taylor (countertenor) and Audun Iversen (baritone) join Peter Oundjian for Carmina Burana, and Lisa Milne (soprano), Catherine Wyn-Rogers (mezzo-soprano), Barry Banks (tenor), and Hanno Mueller-Brachmann (baritone) team up with Sir Andrew Davis for Mendelssohn’s Elijah.

The Aberdeen Concert Series

The successful collaboration with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO) at Aberdeen’s Music Hall experienced an 8% increase in average audience attendance and a 10% increase in subscriptions across the Season. The RSNO opens the new Season in Aberdeen and presents three further RSNO programmes including the second Aberdeen Naked Classics.

Naked Classics

The investigative series which explores key works in the symphonic repertoire is now in its sixth year and last Season it experienced a 50% increase in average attendance. Paul Rissmann continues to unveil the secrets behind key orchestral works; Berlioz’ Symphony fantastique, Stravinsky’s Firebird and Henk de Vlieger’s condensed arrangement of Wagner’s epic Ring Cycle.

The RSNO Chamber Series

The RSNO Chamber Series continues for its third year at St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow and Dovecot, Edinburgh. RSNO Principal Bass Clarinet Josef Pacewicz plays Brahms’ greatest achievement for chamber ensemble, the Clarinet Quintet. String Trio and Brass Quartet combine for a programme including music from Haydn to Arvo Pärt and Classical Strings surveys great chamber works for string quintet, including Wolf’s Italian Serenade and Schubert’s String Quintet in C major.

Under 16s Go Free! Under 26 Tickets

Earlier this year the RSNO simplified its youth access programmes to make it even easier to attend RSNO-promoted performances. Two accompanied under 16s can attend the Orchestras concerts for free (Christmas concerts 50% off) and receive free programmes and those under 26 can purchase tickets for just £5.00. 11% of the audience is now comprised of music-lovers under 26.

Kelvingrove Concerts

Since one of Scotland’s most popular visitor attraction reopened following its multimillion pound refurbishment the Orchestra has performed a tailored programme which has developed a loyal following. This year the RSNO Chorus joins the musicians at Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery for the first time. In September Music Director Designate at Orchestre National d’Ile de France Enrique Mazzola combines the forces for A Night At The Opera, two nights of popular arias and choruses including Verdi’s Ave Maria and the Triumphal March from Aida.

RSNO Partnerships

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

The RSNO is committed to developing creative, dynamic, long-term partnerships with Scotland's corporate sector. The organisation 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 welcomes Barclays as a key partner from 2012. Barclays will be supporting a number of new Music Director Peter Oundjian’s programmes.

The RSNO's partnership with TOTAL E&P UK Limited is now in its eighth year, testimony to the mutual benefits derived from the association.

The Orchestra's partnership with ScotRail, the RSNO's Official Transport Provider, continues to provide vital transport for RSNO musicians and staff across Scotland, promotes sustainable travel to a wide audience, and opens doors for ScotRail staff to experience live classical music with their national orchestra.

The RSNO's successful partnership with The Miller Group enters its third 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.

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

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

The RSNO would like to thank all of its sponsors, corporate donors, corporate partners and media partners who make a crucial contribution to the work of the Orchestra: TOTAL E&P UK Limited, Capital Solutions, Barclays, The Weir Group, La Bonne Auberge, The Courier, The Miller Group, Shell U.K. Limited, Cameron House on Loch Lomond, Italian Institute, Prestonfield, ScotRail, Loganair, Park’s Motor Group, Douglas Park BMW, Glasgow Airport, HSBC, First Rule Investment Consultancy Ltd, Gallagher Heath, Smart Graphics, Scots Magazine, Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, The Franco-Scottish Business Club, The Scottish Council for Development & Industry, Valvona & Crolla, BBC Radio 3, Classic FM.