Young ambassadors root for live orchestral music

RSNO recruits young people nationwide to promote the live orchestral experience

Sixteen to eighteen year olds across Scotland are being recruited by Scotland’s national orchestra to promote live orchestral music to their peers, as part of a new initiative to increase youth attendance of classical music concerts.
The Royal Scottish National Orchestra announced its ambition to connect with School pupils nationwide earlier this year, when it launched its RSNO Engage programme of performances, workshops and community activities. It has now appointed over twenty Young Ambassadors to its programme, covering nearly every local authority in the country, from Highland to Argyll and Bute.
Young Ambassadors will be able to attend RSNO concerts for free and will get to know the musicians, artistic team and staff. They will be assigned a mentor who will assist with career development and will have input in the Orchestra’s future plans to engage with young people across the country. This will be open to all young people aged sixteen to eighteen with a passion for music, regardless of whether they are learning an instrument.
The Young Ambassadors will be expected to attend RSNO concerts in their area, promote RSNO activities online, create a classical music board in their school or community to highlight opportunities for young people to be involved, and attend five forums across Scotland, to discuss ways in which the RSNO can improve engagement. In return, the Young Ambassadors will receive free tickets for RSNO concerts, career development advice, be assigned a mentor from a department within the RSNO, and will be given the opportunity to influence the RSNO’s strategy.
New RSNO Young Ambassador Susannah Mack, from the Highlands:

I’m delighted to be working with young people across the country to promote classical music, giving me a chance to show off the musical talent in the Highlands at the same time. I’ve already had incredible new experiences (for example interviewing Nicola Benedetti!) and I’m really looking forward to the exciting plans to come.

Seona Glenn, from Stirling:

The world of classical music is so enriching and enjoyable to me that I want shout it from the rooftops! Young Ambassadors allows me to share my great passion for music with others of my age, and encourage them to enjoy its diversity, and engage.

Thea Sands, from Renfrewshire:

I’m excited by the prospect of change and the opportunity I've been given to work amongst people with similar passions. It’s wonderful to use my love of orchestral music to help others explore the form. I hope to aid the integration of this musical form into youth culture for the future.

RSNO Director of Learning and Engagement Jenn Minchin:

We have been surprised and delighted at the response to our appeal for the Young Ambassador scheme. Every participant will be able to contribute to the success of Scotland’s national orchestra with their own unique set of skills and contacts. We look forward to recruiting many more Ambassadors for live orchestral music in the future.

The RSNO is keen to hear from any sixteen to eighteen year olds who might be interested in becoming a Young Ambassador. For more information go to

Young Ambassador Review: Christmas Concert

Stirling's Young Ambassador, Seona Glen, reviews the Christmas Concert on Sat, 21 December at Glasgow Concert Hall.
In a complete contrast to the Brahms concert I attended the previous weekend, the RSNO took to the stage with Christopher Bell, Chorus master of the RSNO Junior Chorus, as conductor. Very much in the Christmas spirit, the Orchestra performed a number of Christmas pieces, both classics and new arrangements.
The highlight for me was undoubtedly the Orchestra's enchanting performance of The Snowman by Howard Blake. The work was performed alongside the film shown on the big screen, a guest narrator, and a young boy who sweetly sang Walking in the Air. The audience entered a different world as the piano played the famous opening chords. We were brought through a great variety of music, from the beautiful, well known song as the Snowman and boy flew through the air, to the cheerful Dance of the Snowmen, and finally the magical yet sad reappearance of Walking in the Air on the piano. I left the auditorium, as I imagine many others did, in a trance.
After the interval, the mood changed and things became much livelier. The Orchestra performed many pieces with RSNO Choruses, but none left us feeling more in the Christmas spirit than The Penguin Song, in which Chistopher Bell had every person, adults included, hopping about and looking rather daft, while some trombonists unexpectedly appeared at the front of the stage, dressed as penguins! It was a very warm and entertaining evening, and I can't imagine a single person didn't leave the concert hall feeling lifted.
Seona Glen
Seona is part of the RSNO's Young Ambassador scheme, arranged by the Learning and Engagement Department. For more information, visit the RSNO website.
Share your reviews on any of our concerts on Twitter @RSNO
Under 16? Get Free tickets for Under 16. Find out more here.

An Aixtraordinary visit – 24 Hours With the RSNO & Nikolai Lugansky

In the auditorium of Grand Théâtre de Provence

Last month the RSNO and Music Director Peter Oundjian traveled to Aix-en-Provence for a concert of music by Messiaen, Beethoven and Rachmaninov. The concert, which took place at the Grand Théâtre de Provence, featured Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances, Messiaen’s Les offrandes oubliéesand Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.4 with soloist Nikolai Lugansky. 

The trip followed a critically acclaimed appearance together by the orchestra, conductor and soloist at the 2013 BBC Proms earlier in the year, where they performed a programme of Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky and Naresh Sohal. 
Our Subscriber and Membership Manager, Mairi Foster, reflects on the short trip:  

From 8am on Tuesday 26 November, musicians and staff started arriving at Glasgow Airport ready for a whirlwind tour to Aix-en-Provence. 
The RSNO private charter flight departed on time and landed at Marseille Provence Airport at 2.30pm local time. After checking into the hotel, we had a couple of hours for a coffee, crêpe and a quick look around the before heading to the Grand Théâtre de Provence for rehearsal.  
The concert of Messiaen, Beethoven and Rachmaninov was conducted by Music Director Peter Oundjian and featured pianist Nikolai Lugansky. As ever the Orchestra ended the performance with an encore of Eightsome Reels, which had the audience clapping and cheering. This was the RSNO’s debut in this artistic region of France, and hopefully it will not be our last!
We had an early breakfast in the hotel, watching a brief flutter of snow, before heading off to the airport for the journey home. It was a hectic twenty-four hours full of great music with beautiful views of the picturesque countryside.  
I’m sure I am not alone in considering a future holiday to Provence, preferably when it is a little warmer! 
A bientôt 

Young Ambassador Review: Benedetti and Elschenbroich Play Brahms

Stirling's Young Ambassador, Seona Glen, reviews Benedetti and Elschenbroich Play Brahms, Sat 14 Dec at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
The evening at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall kicked off with a pre-concert talk with a difference. Having enjoyed previous talks, I brought my family along, only to find out that Nicola Benedetti and Leonard Elschenbroich themselves would be speaking about the Brahms Double Concerto for Violin and Cello! William Chandler, Associate Leader of the RSNO, asked the couple questions, and the audience listened intently to an in depth discussion about what the masterpiece means to the musicians, and what they have tried to do with it. Nicola described how to her the piece was mostly two voices in agreement, often finishing each other's phrases, with the occasional 'argument'. Leonard and Nicola both agreed that having played together a great deal, they are both very in tune with each other's playing, which did make the rehearsal process easier, but that in order to really connect on stage, they have had to discuss extensively their ideas about each musical phrase. William proceeded to give insight into the two other works which the RSNO would perform with spirit that night: Ravel's Valses nobles et sentimentales, and Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra.
When it came to the concert, I was really able to understand what the musicians had described, and it made the performances all the more interesting. First, the RSNO began with Ravel. The audience enjoyed some sweet melodies from the wind and strings, while there was no shortage of enthusiasm from the orchestra in the more animated sections, in which the percussion section shone through.
There was more to come, however, when the RSNO was joined by the two virtuoso players, Benedetti and Elschenbroich to perform the Brahms Double Concerto. The rhythmic and decisive opening had me captivated, and the pair played with undeniable passion, which the orchestra mirrored. I was particularly interested in what was said during the pre-concert talk about the two instruments being mostly in agreement, and I especially listened out for that, which brought an extra element of interest to the piece for me. The musicians on stage received a well-deserved applause, and the crowds dispersed for a short interval.
On return, the audience's attention was quickly captured with the very sinister opening of Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra, which gave the percussion and lower strings the chance to shine. The piece was tackled with great energy and made for a powerful performance, which had me and the rest of the audience gripped. We couldn't have asked for a more unforgettable finale.
Seona Glen
Seona is part of the RSNO's Young Ambassador scheme, arranged by the Learning and Engagement Department. For more information, visit the RSNO website.
Share your reviews on any of our concerts on Twitter @RSNO
Under 16? Get Free tickets for Under 16. Find out morehere.

Two key appointments to RSNO’s Board of Directors

Chris van der Kuyl and Mark Batho bring knowledge and experience of educational and digital sectors as Scotland’s national orchestra prepares its move to a new premises in 2014

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) has made two significant appointments, Chris van der Kuyl and Mark Batho, to its Board of Directors, ratified at its latest Annual General Meeting.
Currently chairman of 4J Studios Ltd, joint creator of the record-breaking video game Minecraft on XBox 360 with Mojang and Microsoft, Chris van der Kuyl is a highly experienced Chief Executive and Non-Executive Director whose expertise combines the start-up, development and market-listed business arena in the technology, media and entertainment sectors. He grew his first business, VIS entertainment plc. out of a bedroom in Dundee to become a global player in the creation of leading-edge entertainment property for computer, television and video games platforms worldwide. Until recently Chris was the Chief Executive Officer of brightsolid, one of the UK’s leading online innovators, comprising brightsolid online publishing, one of the world\'s largest online family history companies, and brightsolid online technology, providing secure delivery of critical IT infrastructures. Chris is now a Strategic Adviser to the board of Dundee-based publishers DC Thomson and Co Ltd, owners of brightsolid.
Mark Batho has recently been appointed Vice-Principal of Abertay University in Dundee, responsible for strategic planning and resource allocation, and for the University’s support services. Previously Mark was Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council, the national body responsible for funding teaching and learning provision, research and other activities in Scotland\'s colleges, universities and other higher education institutions.
Former Head of Corporate Services for the Scottish Executive Agnes Robson and DC Thomson & Co Ltd Director Christopher Thomson left the board after serving full terms earlier this year.
RSNO Chair Dr Brian Lang welcomed the new appointments:

I would like to welcome Chris and Mark to the RSNO family. We look forward to receiving their valuable counsel and guidance, as the organisation further embraces the opportunities presented in the peripatetic and digital sectors. And I am delighted that my colleague Peter Shakeshaft has agreed to extend his period of service for a further year. Peter has been a stalwart member of the board as Deputy Chairman and his expertise and knowledge has driven hugely successful fundraising campaigns for the Orchestra’s new home and to raise revenue income.

New Season soloists

When the RSNO artistic and planning teams started to consider this Season, Peter’s second as Music Director, their focus was strongly on bringing new guest performers and young talent to Scottish audiences.
As a result, this year’s Season brochure features many new names, a brilliant selection of up-and-coming and first-time RSNO guest artists for you to pick from. And who knows? They could be the next must-see soloist; the next revered conductor; the next Scottish favourite; the next Benedetti, Järvi, Lill, Gergiev or Lugansky.
This weekend, Lise de la Salle is soloist for Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No1 in the first of our festive concerts, The Nutcracker. At only 25, she’s already an acclaimed recording artist and international performer, but Lise has yet to make her debut here. She performs with fellow RSNO newcomer, conductor Alexander Shelley. His father, Howard, is no stranger to the Orchestra so it will be great to continue the family connection with Alexander and recognise another father/son team – Järvis stand aside! Follow Lise on Twitter @lisedelasalle and Conductor Alexander Shelley @ShelleyConduct.
Once upon a time, Nicola Benedetti was the new girl of classical music; now she’s Scotland's sweetheart. Playing since the age of four, Nicola has captured hearts not only in Scotland but across the world. Now, see her perform with the man who has captured hers: cellist LeonardElschenbroich. Don’t miss this brilliant musical partnership, as they share Brahms' starry-eyed Concerto for Violin and Cello. Follow Nicola on Twitter @NickyBenedettiand Leonard Elschenbroich @LElschenbroich.
On the subject of romance – we welcome the stunning soprano Kishani Jayasinghe as soloist at next year’s Valentine’s concerts. Kashani leads a group of young, talented singers who perform with us this year – many of whom can be seen our Season Finale performing Mahler’s Symphony of a Thousand, supported by many of their experienced compatriots.
Along with Nicola, we also welcome three more stellar violinists, Jack Liebeck (@Jack_Liebeck) Vilde Frang and Augustin Hadelich. Since Jack last performed with us his star has continued to rise, becoming one of the most sought after soloists of his generation, while Vilde and Augustin make their debuts performing the rarely performed Britten and Adès Violin Concerto – expect a serious musical education from both musicians.
We couldn’t complete this without mentioning two brilliant talents, Igor Levit (@igorpianist) and Anoushka Shankar (@ShankarAnoushka). BBC New Generations Artist Igor Levit makes first appearances with the RSNO in April performing Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto. Anoushka Shankar, daughter of the late Ravi Shankar, has made a serious name for herself, following in her brilliant father’s footsteps. She joins us to perform his Second Sitar Concerto Raga-Mala.
See all of our forthcoming concerts on the RSNO website, here.

Young Ambassadors Forum #1: Rebecca Smith

West Lothian's Young Ambassador, Rebecca Smith, describes the first Young Ambassadors Forum and Lugansky Plays The Emperor, Sat 23rd Nov at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 (Emperor)
Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances
Encore: Brahms: Hungarian Dance No. 6
The RSNO were on top form last night on the evening of our first RSNO Young Ambassador meeting. It was great to meet all the fellow ambassadors from across Scotland who are all so passionate about bringing music to young people! After our photo shoot we got down to the nitty gritty, and discussed in groups the ways in which we think we can improve the appeal of the RSNO and classical music to our peers. We were excited to find out that work experience for each of us will be arranged in June where we will get to work within our chosen area of the orchestra. We are potentially going to put on our own concert in an unusual venue to invite our friends to, allowing us to bring our favourite music to people our own age. We are really going to make a difference to youth music!
To begin the concert, the colours of the music by synesthete Messiaen were incredible, and were beautifully contoured by the world-class musician’s from the orchestra. The power of the orchestra was not with-held through the Emperor which was fantastic, and the powerful playing from Lugansky added his own passion to the piece. The intricate passage work from the wind section in particular in Symphonic Dances was extraordinary, and I loved the trumpet fanfare. The violin solo from the leader of the orchestra was exceptional, with a wild Russian edge to the sound and rich tone colour. The encore of Brahms was wonderful, and probably my favourite part of the whole concert!
I look forward to the developments of the Young Ambassador team over the next few weeks, and am excited to be attending the RSNO’s ‘Benedetti and Elschenbroich play Brahms’ on Saturday 14 December at 7.30pm in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Hope to see you there!
Rebecca Smith
Rebecca is part of the RSNO's Young Ambassador scheme, arranged by the Learning and Engagement Department. For more information, visit the RSNO website.
Share your reviews on any of our concerts on Twitter @RSNO
Under 16? Get Free tickets for Under 16. Find out more here.

Young Ambassadors Forum #1: Heather Mitchell

South Lanarkshire's Young Ambassador, Heather Mitchell, describes the first Young Ambassadors Forum and Lugansky Plays The Emperor, Sat 23rd Nov at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

 Nikolai Lugansky. Photograph by Marco Borggreve

Saturday 23rd of November marked the first RSNO Young Ambassadors forum, where chosen Young Ambassadors from across Scotland gathered in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and met for the first time. It was great to meet so many talented young people who share so much passion and enthusiasm for classical music.
After a photo shoot we put our musical heads together and came up with some fresh ideas with regards to attracting young people across the country to classical music and in particular the RSNO.

Following our meeting we were invited to attend the concert Lugansky plays The Emperor where the RSNO and Musical Director Peter Oundjian conducted the concert with a fantastic performance of Les offrandes oubliées by Messiaen. The orchestra were then joined by Russian pianist extraordanaire Nikolai Lugansky who played the Emperor (Piano Concerto No5) by Beethoven. I particularly enjoyed the intricate piano sections which created tension and had us Young Ambassadors on the edge of our seats! A short interval (and copious amounts of chocolate) later we welcomed back the RSNO who put on an outstanding performance of Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances which featured exceptional playing from each individual section in the orchestra, I was particularly impressed by both the woodwind and percussion sections!  The highlight of the concert was most definitely the encore of Brahms, an exciting and lively dance!
I look forward to working with the learning and engagement team and meeting with the Young Ambassadors to share ideas again soon! Upcoming concerts which I hope to attend include Benedetti and Elschenbroich Play Brahms, Pictures at an Exhibition featuring soloist Jackand of course the RSNO Christmas concert which will take place on the 21st of December in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.
Heather Mitchell
Heather is part of the RSNO's Young Ambassador scheme, arranged by the Learning and Engagement Department. For more information, visit the RSNO website.
Share your reviews on any of our concerts on Twitter @RSNO
Under 16? Get Free tickets for Under 16. Find out more here

Young Ambassador Review: Highland Youth Orchestra

Inverness Young Ambassador, Elizabeth Barke, describes the Highland Youth Orchestra concert, Sat 23rd Nov at Macdonalds Highlands Hotel

Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker Suite op. 71a
Miniature Overture
Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
Arabian Dance
Russian Dance (Trepak)
In this session with the orchestra it was a great honour to work with Gary Walker as conductor. As well as conducting many prestigious orchestras throughout the world he was the principle guest conductor of the RSNO 2003 - 2007
The Nutcracker composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is one of my favourite pieces of classical music especially around Christmas time, as the story follows a young girls dreams on Christmas Eve about a nutcracker doll she has been given. The Nutcracker Ballet was first performed at the famous Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg, Russia.
The lively start of the Miniature Overture from the Nutcracker really captured the audience as we painted the picture of an exciting Christmas Eve. Proceeding into the March left the audience wanting more as they were left with the abrupt ending. The delicate pizzicato led into the magical tune on the celesta of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. I feel that the orchestra really created the image of the elegant ballerina performing that famous dance. Next the quiet Arabian Dance prior to finishing with the fast and exciting Trepak. The Trepak is my personal favourite movement in The Nutcracker, I particularly love the accelerando as the orchestra crashes into a dramatic ending.
Elgar: The Wand of Youth Suite no.1
Minuet (old style)
Sun Dance
Fairy Pipers
Slumber Scene
Fairies and Giants
The Wand of Youth Suite no.1 was first performed in London during 1907. Edward Elgar based the music on a family play he wrote at the age of 12. The seven contrasting movements are rarely performed in concert. I really enjoyed the fourth movement, Sun Dance. This lively dance is dominated by the woodwind section. I love the feeling of the violins fighting for the main tune however the woodwind section refuse to let them take over. After a brief dark passage the orchestra unites and scurries into a rousing close.
The highlight of the concert for me was the encore of the Trepak from the Nutcracker.
I am very excited to be a young ambassador for the RSNO. Our aim is to engage young people in classical music and I hope that blogging will become a vital part of this.
Elizabeth Barke
Elizabeth is part of the RSNO's Young Ambassador scheme, arranged by the Learning and Engagement Department. For more information, visit the RSNO website.
Share your reviews on any of our concerts on Twitter @RSNO
Under 16? Get Free tickets for Under 16. Find out morehere.