14:15 Season a momentous orchestral year for the RSNO

  • Scotland’s national orchestra moves to its new premises in the Year of Homecoming
  • Peter Oundjian and Thomas Søndergård’s third year as Music Director and Principal Guest Conductor
  • A selection of Scottish guest artists and RSNO musicians as soloists
  • Major new commission from Sally Beamish featuring Orchestra and Chorus
  • Scandinavian celebration – Nielsen and Sibelius anniversaries
  • Expansion of Film, Folk and Festive themed programmes
  • Classic FM Hall of Fame concert with John Suchet

The 2014:15 orchestral year will be one of momentous change for Scotland’s national orchestra, as the RSNO prepares to move into its new home – currently under construction adjacent to the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall - and will take this opportunity to reinforce its objective as being Scotland’s greatest resource for discovering, learning, engaging and enjoying orchestral music.

The new Season starts in September and presents over sixty performances across ten Scottish venues. In the opening months of the Season, the RSNO will be celebrating Scotland’s Year of Homecoming, with appearances from its own talented soloists and the very best of Scotland’s international guest artists, a major new Scottish commission to commemorate the start of the First World War, and programming with Scottish influences, complementing English, Scandinavian, Russian, European and American repertoire.

Before the new Season commences, the RSNO will be participating in the cultural events linked to the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, details of which will be announced shortly.

The RSNO also looks forward to announcing its programme of events to formally open its new residence, expected to be made following the conclusion of the current orchestral Season.

RSNO Music Director Peter Oundjian:

It is an honour for me to be a part of an organisation which, through the delivery of our new rehearsal and recording facility, will have so many opportunities to fulfil its aspirations of connecting with a growing audience.

For us and our supporters this year will be remembered as the starting point of a new, successful chapter in the history of Scotland’s national orchestra, and I can think of no better way of marking this watershed moment than by performing some of most powerful music in the orchestral repertoire.

RSNO Chief Executive Michael Elliott:

It was during the first Year of Homecoming in 2009 that we made the initial steps towards planning our move to new premises, and now, in the second Year of Homecoming, we are on the cusp of realising that ambition.

The move into our new home will herald the point where Scotland’s national orchestra is poised to build upon its remarkable achievements in recent years, to make another step-change in its contribution to Scotland and its cultural life.

The forthcoming Season holds musical delights for all our different audiences and, combined with our learning and engagement programmes across Scotland; it builds upon our commitment to excellence and extending reach.

2014:15 Season Events

This year the RSNO promotes its own musicians, welcomes returning and new guest artists of outstanding calibre, expands on its popular programming which proved so successful last year, features new works such as a major new commission for Orchestra and Chorus by Scottish composer Sally Beamish, and concludes with Elgar’s masterpiece The Dream of Gerontius.

Peter Oundjian

A statement of intent can be drawn from the programming of the opening two concerts of the Season. Employing the talents of the RSNO’s pool of musicians, Peter Oundjian is joined at the front of the stage in the opening week by the Orchestra’s own Principal Flute Katherine Bryan for the Scottish première of Christopher Rouse’s Flute Concerto, a programme also featuring Wagner’s Overture to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. The following week Principal Cello Aleksei Kiseliov steps to the fore, to perform Elgar’s Cello Concerto, sharing the evening with Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro Overture and Bruckner’s Symphony No7.

Nicola Benedetti MBE returns for her first performances of Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No1 with the RSNO. Peter Oundjian and the Orchestra open with Respighi’s orchestration of Rachmaninov’s March from Cinq Études-tableaux, concluding with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No4.

Peter and the Orchestra’s final performances in November include Stravinsky’s The Firebird Suite (1919), Respighi’s Pines of Rome, Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro for Strings and, joined by recent Gramophone Award-winning artist, Scottish pianist Steven Osborne, Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major.

Peter promised further investigation into the works of 20th century American composers, following the success of his previous performances of the repertoire. For the Sir Alexander Gibson Memorial Concert, a state-side selection, including John Adam’s Tromba Lontana, Bernstein’s violin concerto Serenade after Plato’sSymposium with Grammy-nominated soloist Robert McDuffie, Barber’s Symphony No1 and Gershwin’s An American in Paris.

The Music Director returns in May for the final two programmes of the 2014:15 Season. In the penultimate concert, Berlioz’s Le carnaval romain precedes Lalo’s most famous work, for solo violin and orchestra, Symphonie espagnole, with Ray Chen, and Brahms’ Symphony No2. To conclude the Season, Elgar’s proudest achievement, The Dream of Gerontius, with mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly, tenor Toby Spence, bass Alan Opie and the RSNO Chorus.

Thomas Søndergård

RSNO Principal Guest Conductor Thomas Søndergård continues to convey his love of rich, complex works, his first concerts of the new Season featuring Richard Strauss’Metamorphosen and Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra. However, for his second set of concerts audiences will have a hitherto unvisited opportunity to hear his interpretation of more familiar concert repertoire; Sibelius’ Symphony No6 and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No6 Pathétique. The twist is Magnus Lindberg’s 2002 Clarinet Concerto, performed by the soloist for this work, Kari Kriikku.

For his final appearance of the 2014:15 Season, Thomas is joined by Canadian violinist James Ehnes for Nielsen’s Violin Concerto, a programme accompanied by Sibelius’ Karelia Suite and Beethoven’s Symphony No3 Eroica.

Neeme Järvi

The Orchestra’s Conductor Laureate Neeme Järvi is fondly known for his world-renowned RSNO recordings of Russian repertoire. This Season he returns to Shostakovich’s Symphony No5, Rimsky-Korsakov’sCapriccio espagnole, and, joined by International Classical Award’s 2012 Artist of the Year Jean-Efflam Bavouzet - who wowed RSNO audiences and critics in 2013 - Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No3.

Jean-Claude Picard

RSNO Assistant Conductor Jean-Claude Picard made his European début last year with an operatic Valentine’s offering, and this coming February he returns to the podium to conduct a Latin flavoured romantic music selection, with works from De Falla, Chabrier, Rodrigo, Bizet, Morricone and John Barry.

Guest Artists

Scottish Conductor Rory Macdonald makes his RSNO début in November for Remembrance Sunday weekend. Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture and Elgar’s Enigma Variations frame works by two Scottish composers. Cecil Coles’ Behind the Lines is a portrait painted by a young composer who died on the Western Front during the First World War, complemented in the programme by a substantial new work for Orchestra and Chorus by Sally Beamish, Equal Voices, a joint commission with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Paul Daniel leads the RSNO for the first concerts of December, in an all-Russian menu of Prokofiev (Russian Overture), Shostakovich (Piano Concerto No2 with RSNO debutante Kirill Gerstein) and Rachmaninov (Symphony No2).

Christoph Altstaedt made his début with the Orchestra in 2012, and caused such a sensation he was immediately invited back. Here he presents an evening of Schumann (Overture, Scherzo and Finale; Symphony No1 Spring) and Lizst (Piano Concerto No2) with Khatia Buniatishvili as soloist.

Haydn’s Symphony No49 La passione and Beethoven’s Symphony No6 Pastoral in the hands of Sir Roger Norrington promises to be a thought-provoking occasion. Lars Vogt features as soloist for Mozart’s Piano Concerto No27.

Finnish maestro John Storgårds makes his first appearances with the RSNO in May, with a triptych of Scandinavian treasures, Sibelius’ Nightride and Sunrise, Nielsen’s Symphony No4 The Inextinguishable, and Grieg’s Piano Concerto with soloist Christian Ihle Hadland.

The Orchestra’s relationship with Sir Andrew Davis is further cemented through his arrival, in May, to lead the musicians, performing works from three of the conductor’s most beloved composers; Delius’ A Song Before Sunrise and Berg’s Seven Early Songs, featuring soprano Erin Wall, precede Mahler’s Symphony No4.

Film, Folk and Festive

Over the last year, the RSNO has devoted more stage-time to popular programmes. Recently, its The Music of John Williams concert in Glasgow, which sold out months in advance, welcomed nearly 2000 new attenders to the Orchestra. This coming year the RSNO will continue to meet the clear appetite for experiencing live, well-known orchestral music.

Folk duo Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain return in November for St Andrew’s Party, which has become a firm favourite with traditional music-loving audiences. Expect guest appearances from big names, a night of jigs and reels, and, as Phil himself describes, “An intimate club night for 2,500 people…”

Hollywood Christmas, featuring the return of Hollywood conductor Richard Kaufman, the RSNO Chorus and Junior Chorus, explores the festive music of the silver screen.

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 Scottish actor Julie Wilson Nimmo as this year’s narrator.

Exponent of historical performance, British conductor Laurence Cummings returns to conduct Handel’s Messiah following last year's performance with Jonathan Cohen which was, for one music critic, the best Messiah they had ever heard.

Classic FM presenter and Beethovian John Suchet joins Peter Oundjian and the RSNO for an evening dedicated to his favourite composer. Egmont Overture and Symphony No5 as well as his Third Piano Concerto, performed by the as yet to be determined winner of the 2014 Scottish International Piano Competition.

The 2013:14 Season’s presentations of film music were very well received and for 2014:15 the Orchestra will extend its offering. The Music of John Williams returns in March with an additional concert in Edinburgh. Richard Kaufman will also return in April to conduct The Golden Age of Film Music, including music from Spartacus, North by Northwest, The Magnificent Seven and Gone With The Wind.

As the official orchestra for Children’s Classic Concerts in the Central Belt, the RSNO performs two programmes in the coming year; Halloween themed The Monsters’ Ball in November and Seasonal family fayre Deck The Halls With Owen and Olly.

Chamber and New Music

Later this year there will be a detailed announcement on the developments of the Chamber Concert series, which will benefit from using the RSNO’s new home as its Glasgow venue for the first time. There will also be the launch of a programme from a new New Music ensemble.

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 is delighted to welcome 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.
The RSNO's partnership with TOTAL E&P UK Limited is now in its eleventh 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, focusing on the RSNO’s Astar CD for new born babies and its associated early years programme for children and families.

The Orchestra's partnership with ScotRail, the RSNO's Official Transport Provider, continues to provide vital transport for RSNO musicians and staff across Scotland, promote 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 fourth 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. With the support of The Miller Group we are delighted to announce the expansion of the programme to include Robin House Hospice in Balloch. The partnership was commended in the community category of the Arts & Business Scotland Awards 2013.

The RSNO welcomes the fifth year of the Orchestra's association with La Bonne Auberge, a partnership which supports Children's Classic Concerts.
We are delighted to continue working in partnership with The Courier in Dundee and the P&J in Aberdeen and the North. The Courier is also headline sponsors of Oundjan and Benedetti in Dundee.

The RSNO will also continue its successful relationship with Capital Document Solutions, a partnership now in its sixth 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, Brewin Dolphin, Capital Solutions, The Weir Group, La Bonne Auberge, The Courier, The Miller Group, Cameron House on Loch Lomond, Gallagher Heath, Italian Institute Edinburgh, Prestonfield House Edinburgh, Valvona & Crolla, Glasgow Airport, ScotRail, Loganair, Park’s Motor Group, Douglas Park BMW, Classic FM, BBC Radio 3, First Rule Investment Consultancy Ltd, Smart Graphics, Scots Magazine, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, The Franco-Scottish Business Club, The Scottish Council for Development & Industry.

Subscription booking for the RSNO 2014:15 Seasons in Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow opens on Wednesday 26 March, 2014. Single tickets are on sale from Tuesday 13 May, although RSNO Circle members can priority book from Monday 5 May 2014.

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.

HUP! Scotland’s classical concerts for newborns

RSNO premières playful introduction to orchestral music for 0-24 months in Aberdeen

For the first time, interactive, participative performances for newborns to two-year-olds will be presented by Scotland’s national orchestra, in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, from Monday 24 March.

A trio of musicians and a drama artist will create an enchanting live music experience for the very young and their grownups. The performances are entitled Hup!, one of the most popular first spoken words for babies, when they want picked up. The young audience members will discover two violins, one cello, one raccoon, a very important tree and someone with a story to share. The relaxed thirty-minute performance is followed by the chance for the young audience to stay and play.

Hup!, devised by Hazel Darwin-Edwards & Abigail Sinar and supported by TOTAL E&P UK Limited and Vibrant Aberdeen, is one outcome of Nickum (Doric for little scamp), a partnership project between Starcatchers, an organisation that specialises in performances and creativity for babies, toddlers and young children, and the RSNO. Nickum’s strategy is to provide a range of RSNO-led community activities in the north-east of Scotland for young people and their families.

The performances for the very young are connected to the distribution of the Astar CD, a free orchestral recording for all babies born in Scotland since October 2012, available through Scottish registry offices. The RSNO hopes to roll out the concept to other areas of Scotland over the next eighteen months.

RSNO Director of Learning and Engagement Jenn Minchin:

Our first foray into presenting performances for the youngest of audiences will be especially rewarding, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing the reaction of our small critics over the next week. It’s an important step for the RSNO, as this completes our portfolio of resources and performances for people of all ages, and is a natural progression from the distribution of the Astar CD, which started in October 2012, and, I’m glad to say, will be continued for a further year.

For more information on Hup! or any of the RSNO Engage activities go to www.rsno.org.uk or call 0141 225 3574.

Big ambitions for RSNO’s Big Highland Residency

Scotland’s national orchestra collaborates with communities in the north of Scotland and presents a springtime celebration of music-making, from 31 March to 5 April.

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) will connect with the music-loving communities of Inverness and surrounding area for The Big Residency, a week-long celebration featuring cross-community performances, workshops, interactive sessions, concluding with a full symphonic concert, from Monday 31 March to Saturday 5 April.

Since the launch of the RSNO’s umbrella programme RSNO Engage last year the Orchestra has broadened the scope of its Learning and Engagement remit and is committed to developing longer-term relationships with communities across Scotland. Behind the scenes, RSNO musicians have, since September 2013, been working with young musicians from Inverness-shire, Wick, Thurso, Skye and Aberdeenshire, preparing them for forthcoming performances with Highland Regional Youth Orchestra, Highland Youth String Orchestra and Highland Schools Wind Band. In addition, over the last eight months RSNO players have been in residency in the Highlands offering open masterclasses for wind and string musicians aged 16 to 18.

In association with Eden Court Theatre, Highland Council and supported by the Press and Journal and Highlife Highland, The Big Residency will be showcasing the ongoing work in a series of composition workshops, tailor-made performances for young people, cross-genre performances and a full symphonic concert.

The start of the week features RSNO on the Road, RSNO musicians including RSNO Principal Trombone Dávur Juul Magnussen, will be visiting schools across the area to lead a series of workshops from improvisation.

The critically-acclaimed Teddy Bears’ Picnic, performances for 3-5 year-olds, comes to Inverness for the first time, on Wednesday 2 April at Eden Court Theatre (10.00am and 11.30am). These story-led informal performances encourage participation from young concert attenders and their families. Receiving a five-star review for a similarly themed performance in 2013, the Herald described it as, “…a new concept, with a fresh and seamless presentation.” Wednesday also features performances for early school-years children and their families, Steve and His Seriously Tall Ladder, at the Eden Court Theatre (1.30pm, 4.00pm).

Boys United is a brand new initiative for the north of Scotland. In 2006 Director of the RSNO Junior Chorus Christopher Bell started a vocal ensemble for boys whose voices were changing. Changed Voices helps guide members - boys aged 13-18 - through that process of change. A programme inspired by the success of Changed Voices, Inverness will play host to Boys United, for the benefit of young male singers seeking to develop their ability before their voices change. With Christopher Bell visiting participating schools for preparatory sessions in the preceding weeks, the Empire Theatre at Eden Court will be filled with boys from P6 to S1 on Thursday 3 April, for a day of practical exercises and informal performances.

Christopher Bell, Director, RSNO Junior Chorus:

I''m delighted to be able to come to Inverness and work with the young singers, helping to set them on the path to finding their voices. We have some great songs which will really enthuse our ensemble.

Over the past four months, RSNO musicians have been collaborating with performers from Eden Court Community Dance Company and from Cashback for Creativity, developing a new performance. RSNO Remix will receive its première on Friday 4 April (6.00pm) at the Eden Court Theatre. It will incorporate remixed classical music - in this case Praeludium from Grieg’s Holberg Suite - digital animation and contemporary dance, creating a show that blends reworked music with two alternative but complementary art-forms, revealing ways in which traditional works can be placed in a modern context.

On Friday 4 April the RSNO presents Vaughan Williams’ Fifth, a full symphonic concert at Eden Court Theatre, featuring Vaughan Williams’ serene Fifth Symphony alongside Berlioz’ Helios Overture and Stravinsky’s ballet music Pulcinella, with conductor Jean-Claude Picard, whom the media recently described as “…clearly a man with a strong sense of fluidity, dynamism and style.” Contact the Eden Court Theatre website (www.eden-court.co.uk) or phone the Box Office on 01463 234234.

RSNO Assistant Conductor Jean-Claude Picard:

I was excited when I was offered the chance to conduct the RSNO for a concert as part of the Big Residency week. We have a great programme for you, featuring the Orchestra in all its splendour. I’m very much looking forward to sharing this music, in this excellent venue of yours that is Eden Court.

Musicians and singers from the local area are invited to join the RSNO on Saturday 5 April for RSNO Collaborate, a day of coaching and guidance, culminating in an informal performance at Eden Court, to which friends and family are invited to come and see participants play and sing side-by-side with the RSNO. Workshops are from 10.00am until 5.00pm, with the final performance at 6.00pm. It is recommended that musicians be of Grade 4 standard or above. Singers can be of any ability but some experience is preferred as sheet music will be used for some of the pieces. Repertoire for the day will be a mix of classical, traditional and popular songs and will include: Vivaldi’s Gloria, Scottish traditional songs: Johnnie Cope and Will Ye No Come Back Again, and Sing by Gary Barlow and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Further afield, the members of the RSNO Big Band will be performing in Kingussie, at the Badenoch Centre, on Saturday 5 April, from 1.00pm, providing suitable accompaniment for the RSNO Tea Dance. Also on Saturday, but back in Inverness, the RSNO Baroque Ensemble will be performing Baroque Fireworks, at Inverness Town House at 1.00pm.

RSNO Director of Learning and Engagement Jenn Minchin:

A power of work has already been undertaken over the past ten months, with our musicians becoming an ever-increasing part of the musical community of the Highland region. The Big Residency week serves as an opportunity to showcase our work so far, as we fully intend to continue our relationships with the new connections we have made in the north of Scotland. On behalf of all participants I look forward to welcoming you to our public events from the 31st March.

To find out more about The Big Highland Residency please visit www.rsno.org.uk or contact the RSNO Engage Team on 0141 225 3574; bigresidency@rsno.org.uk.