Scotland’s national orchestras record Scotland-inspired works

The Singing
RSNO and NYOS collaborate for new Sally Beamish recording,
Håkan Hardenberger, Branford Marsalis and James Crabb
A new recording of orchestral music by Scotland-based composer Sally Beamish, supported by Creative Scotland, will be released on the BIS label on 25 September in the U.K., with a North American release date of 9 October, and features collaborations with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO), the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland (NYOS), conductor Martyn Brabbins and three of the greatest living soloists, whose playing was a major inspiration in all three works.
Beamish’s Trumpet Concerto, which received its premiere by NYOS at the 2003 BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, London is recorded for the first time, with its dedicatee, Gramophone Hall of Fame 2015 nominee Håkan Hardenberger as soloist, often recognised as the greatest trumpet soloist today. The work itself is partly inspired by Italo Calvino's book Invisible Cities, which reflects aspects of the organised architecture but seeming randomness of city life. The final movement utilises scrap metal and scaffolding pipes as percussion instruments which were sourced from Glasgow scrapyards by members of the NYOS percussion section.
Three-time GRAMMY© Award-winning saxophonist Branford Marsalis is the soloist for Under the Wing of the Rock, a work for Saxophone and Strings, originally commissioned by the Scottish Ensemble in 2006 for violist Lawrence Power, and rearranged for Marsalis, whose playing had sparked the jazz inflections in the piece. The work takes as its starting point a story from ‘Carmina Gadelica’ – Gaelic songs and prayers collected by 19th century Scottish author Alexander Carmichael – referring to a lullaby sung by a young mother to her child, fleeing the massacre at Glencoe.
A Cage of Doves is an orchestral tone poem inspired by the historic and cultural links between Norway and Orkney, particularly St Magnus, as depicted in George Mackay Brown’s novel Magnus.  The piece was commissioned by the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, and refers to the northern light and seascapes which pervade Mackay Brown’s writing.  Throughout the piece, fragments of the ancient Hymn to St Magnus are heard.  It is dedicated to composer, conductor and former Master of the Queen’s Music, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Beamish’s mentor when she first arrived in Scotland, and the piece was recorded in his 80th birthday year.
The Singing, for accordion and orchestra, was commissioned by the Cheltenham Festival and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra to mark the composer’s 50th birthday, and is one of many works generously supported by her long-time patrons Beryl Calver-Jones and Gerry Mattock.  It is dedicated to the accordion soloist James Crabb, in acknowledgement of his Scottish roots, and reflects the devastation of the Highland Clearances.  The title refers not only to the wealth of Gaelic song and psalm, but also to birdsong, pibroch and, in the sense of the Gaelic seinn (singing, sounding or playing), to the voices of instruments and of the land itself.
Reckless is a short, dance-inspired orchestral showpiece, originally commissioned by the Southbank Sinfonia to celebrate the creative energy of this band of young players.
On the release of the new recording, composer Sally Beamish said, “The music is inspired not only by my adopted homeland, but also by the exceptional musicians with whom I’ve been privileged to work. This disc represents a new development in my ongoing and fruitful relationship with BIS, with these outstanding orchestras, and with Martyn, who has premiered many of my works with insight and flare. It means a great deal to me that this has come about, that these stunning soloists have contributed their fabulous performances, and that the project has received such generous support from Creative Scotland.”
Ian Smith, Head of Music, Creative Scotland: “Creative Scotland is proud to support this unique recording celebrating the works of Sally Beamish. Featuring the RSNO and NYOS conducted by Martyn Brabbins, it highlights three of her most inspiring works for virtuoso soloists; Håkan Hardenberger (trumpet), Branford Marsalis (Saxophone) and James Crabb (Accordion). We are sure that this recording will bring the works of Scotland-based Sally Beamish to an even wider global audience than her music already and deservedly enjoys.”

RSNO appoints new Chair

Sue Bruce 2 web
Dame Susan Bruce DBE heads the board of directors and is joined by John Heasley as Treasurer
Dame Susan Bruce DBE, has been appointed as the next Chair of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO).
Chief Executive of Aberdeen Council from 2008 and of The City of Edinburgh Council from 2011 until earlier this year, Sue is also non-executive director with SSE, Chair of Young Scot and Vice Chair of SCDI. She is a Burgess of the City of Aberdeen and a member of the Merchant Company of the City of Edinburgh and has recently been appointed a Professor at the University of Strathclyde. Dame Susan is the recipient of many awards, including Chief Executive of the Year in 2013 and UK City Leader of the Year in 2014.
Sue succeeds previous incumbent Dr. Brian Lang, who leaves the post after serving seven years, during which time the organisation experienced a rise in average audience figures to the highest in a generation, undertook a successful tour of China with its Music Director Peter Oundjian, and conceived and delivered on plans to rehome the Orchestra and choruses to a new, purpose-built rehearsal, recording and office space adjacent to the existing Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.
Sue is joined by new board appointment John Heasley, Divisional Managing Director, Weir Power & Industrial, Weir Group plc, who replaces Weir Group plc Chief Executive Keith Cochrane as Treasurer. In addition to Cochrane’s departure, RSNO Deputy Chair Stephen Carter OBE also leaves after seven years’ service. Finally, Cllr Karen Doran from The City of Edinburgh Council succeeds previous Edinburgh representative Cllr Norma Austin Hart.
New RSNO Chair Dame Susan Bruce: “I am delighted to take up the role of chair of RSNO - this is a particularly exciting time for our national orchestra and I am looking forward to working with our new Chief Executive Krishna Thiagarajan and the whole team at the RSNO’s new home adjacent to Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall. I would like to pay tribute to the work of Dr. Brian Lang, the outgoing chair, during whose tenure the new facilities were brought to fruition. The RSNO has a proud record of excellence whilst at the same time working hard to ensure that the joy of music is widely accessible and I will seek to build upon that strong foundation.”
Newly appointed RSNO Treasurer John Heasley: “It is with great pleasure that I accept the position of RSNO Treasurer. It is an honour to be invited to contribute to the governance of such an esteemed arts organisation. I look forward to working with Sue and the rest of the team to further develop the RSNO on the national and international stage.”
Departing RSNO Chair Dr. Brian Lang: “I warmly welcome Sue and John to the RSNO. They bring a wealth of experience and expertise, an impressive network of contacts, and the ambition to seek the new achievements that the RSNO deserves. I leave the RSNO having greatly enjoyed my seven years with one of the gems in Scotland’s arts and culture crown. Together with newly-arrived Chief Executive Krishna Thiagarajan, the Orchestra is in the hands of a very capable team.”
In October 2015 the RSNO begins celebration of its 125th anniversary, coinciding with the organisation’s relocation to a new, purpose-built rehearsal and performance space in the centre of Glasgow. For more information on RSNO concerts and events, visit

RSNO Leader Clark to step down

RSNO Leader James Clark

RSNO Leader James Clark

James Clark leaves the RSNO as Leader following five years of sterling service
James Clark will step down from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) later this month after five years as co-leader. James, who is also co-leader of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, is based in Merseyside, and aims to spend more time with his family as well as concentrate more of his time on performing chamber music.
James Clark’s final appearances as RSNO Leader will be accompanying Ballett am Rhein at the Edinburgh Playhouse, where the Düsseldorf-based ballet company performs Seven, choreographer Martin Schläpfer’s full ballet response to Mahler’s Symphony No7.
Clark became a well-known figure at the front desk of the first violins as guest Leader following the retirement of Edwin Paling in 2007. In 2010 he was appointed to the specially-created position of Principal Guest Leader, and in 2011 accepted the permanent joint leadership alongside Maya Iwabuchi. In August 2011 Clark won a Herald Angel Award, recognising his outstanding performances at that year’s Edinburgh International Festival.
RSNO Leader James Clark: “I have fond memories of working with my colleagues at the RSNO and have hugely enjoyed the times we’ve worked together – it’s an ensemble with a strong artistic identity and dynamic quality and I’m proud to have played a part in its continuing development.
“Particular highlights for me have been recording and performing American music with Music Director Peter Oundjian, recording and performing the orchestral works of Debussy with Stéphane Denève, our appearances at the Edinburgh International Festival, touring across Scotland - including a wonderful week-long residency in Shetland, where we collaborated with local musicians, and at the St Magnus Festival in Orkney - and performing at the BBC Proms at the Albert Hall.”
RSNO Music Director Peter Oundjian: “Working alongside James has been an absolute pleasure. His talent as a top-flight orchestral musician cannot be questioned, but our shared background as quartet players has made these years of shared music making particularly meaningful. He leaves with us a legacy of an ensemble in great shape, and we would all like to wish him the very best for the future.”
The RSNO will be inviting guest leaders to join the musicians while the search for a successor to James Clark is undertaken.
In October 2015 the RSNO begins the celebration of its 125th anniversary, coinciding with the organisation’s relocation to a new, purpose-built rehearsal and performance space in the centre of Glasgow. For more information on RSNO concerts and events, visit

New initiative to support emerging orchestral composers

Scotland’s national orchestra launches RSNO Composers’ Hub

Composer Brett Dean

Composer Brett Dean

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) today (18 August) launches a new initiative to develop the talents of emerging composers, RSNO Composers’ Hub.  Aimed at composers in the early stages of their career, this bespoke scheme is an opportunity for a group of composers to write for the orchestra in a range of different contexts, develop skills and creative relationships, as well as acquire an understanding of the business of a major arts organisation.
With the support from PRS for Music Foundation, up to five emerging composers will be chosen to join RSNO Composers’ Hub and spend the 2015:16 season with the Orchestra.  As well as working with RSNO’s contemporary group, Alchemy, each composer will write a ten-minute work for full symphony orchestra.  The scheme will culminate in a public workshop in the new RSNO Centre auditorium in Glasgow, April 2016, led by internationally-renowned composer and viola player, Brett Dean, from which one work will be chosen to be performed by the RSNO as part of its 2016:17 Season.
RSNO Composers’ Hub is also an opportunity to develop a meaningful collaboration with the RSNO and the other hub members over a sustained period and to get to know the Orchestra, staff and its audience, receiving guidance from different artistic and business areas.
RSNO Executive Producer Manus Carey: “We are very excited to be launching the pilot year of our new Composers’ Hub, with support from PRS for Music Foundation. With the imminent move into our new purpose-built home, we will have the opportunity to extend the support we give to Scottish and UK-wide composers, and to provide the creative space for them to explore and develop.  The breadth of the scheme will also mean it is an opportunity for our audiences to extend their knowledge of contemporary music and the compositional process.”
Award-winning composer Brett Dean: “Opportunities presented to emerging composers, such as those provided by the new RSNO’s Composers’ Hub, make an enormously positive difference to the development of a composer’s voice. I’m very happy to be able to contribute to this valuable new initiative by the RSNO.”
Composers must submit a CV, one-page letter explaining why the scheme would be suitable, and two examples of own compositions (preferably at least one for full orchestra), with scores and sound samples to the RSNO’s Artistic Planning Manager, Catherine Ferrell, at  The closing date for applications is Tuesday 1 September 2015.
For full details, please see
In October 2015 the RSNO begins celebration of its 125th anniversary, coinciding with the organisation’s relocation to a new, purpose-built rehearsal and performance space in the centre of Glasgow. For more information on RSNO concerts and events, visit

RSNO promotes Assistant Conductor


RSNO Assistant Conductor Jean-Claude Picard

RSNO Assistant Conductor Jean-Claude Picard

For his final year, Jean-Claude Picard becomes Associate Conductor, reflecting his contribution over 3-year term
The Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s (RSNO) Canadian Assistant Conductor Jean-Claude Picard has been appointed to the position of RSNO Associate Conductor for the final year of his extended tenure with the Orchestra.
The change of title reflects Picard’s developing relationship with the ensemble and his central involvement in some of the Orchestra’s high-profile events over the past two years. As well leading the RSNO for programmes as part of the Orchestra’s Season, its Learning and Engagement activities and for partners Children’s Classic Concerts, Picard has conducted performances for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games cultural celebrations and the Ryder Cup Opening Ceremony at Glasgow’s Hydro, performing alongside artists such as Midge Ure and Nile Rodgers.
Picard’s initial term with the RSNO as Assistant Conductor, a position generously supported by The John Mather Charitable Trust, was for two years, which has been extended for a further year so Picard could also participate in the first part of the organisation’s 125th anniversary celebrations, commencing this October.
RSNO Associate Conductor Jean-Claude Picard: "Being promoted to the position of Associate Conductor of the RSNO means a great deal to me. There is the undeniable aspect of being recognised by my fellow colleagues for all of the hard work I have put in over the last two years, but there is something crucial about the aspect of knowing that I will be able to share another year of extraordinary musical and human moments with everyone at the RSNO, especially with my mentors Peter Oundjian and Thomas Søndergård."
RSNO Music Director Peter Oundjian: “I’m delighted that Jean-Claude has accepted the post of Associate Conductor. What he has so far achieved with the RSNO has been remarkable and far beyond what we had expected of an Assistant Conductor. It therefore seems only right and proper that we recognise his contribution in this way. I very much look forward to working with him in celebrating the Orchestra’s 125th anniversary.”
Jean-Claude Picard marks his final year with the RSNO with a programme featuring Richard Strauss’ Suite from Der Rosenkavalier, the Adagietto from Mahler’s Symphony No5, Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italien, and, with soloist Boris Giltburg, Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No2. In Inverness he will conduct Sibelius' Symphony No. 2, Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture, Fingal’s Cave, and, with soloist Katherine Bryan, Vaughan Williams' The Lark Ascending. 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 some years, Forfar and Stirling.
In October 2015 the RSNO begins celebration of its 125th anniversary, coinciding with the organisation’s relocation to a new, purpose-built rehearsal and performance space in the centre of Glasgow. For more information on RSNO concerts and events, visit

ScotRail refreshes environmentally friendly partnership with Scotland’s national orchestra

05/08/15 - 15080504- FIRST SCOTRAIL  QUEEN STREET STATION - GLASGOW  (L/R) Jean-Claude Picard joins Xander van Vilet, Aleksei Kiseliov and Paul John Smith as ScotRail and the RSNO announce a partnership.

05/08/15 - 15080504- FIRST SCOTRAIL
(L/R) Jean-Claude Picard joins Xander van Vilet, Aleksei Kiseliov and Paul John Smith as ScotRail and the RSNO announce a partnership.

In a move to increase its usage of sustainable transport, musicians from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) will be given the opportunity to trade the car for the train when travelling to its concert venues across Scotland.
ScotRail has renewed its commitment to supporting Scotland’s national orchestra in its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint by providing travel passes for its musicians to venues in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness.
The new 12-month partnership between ScotRail and the RSNO will provide economic, logistical and environmental benefits. The RSNO’s domestic touring schedule is one of the busiest of all the UK’s major arts organisations, covering almost 37,000 miles a year in Scotland alone. The RSNO is also Scotland’s largest professional orchestra with eighty-nine full-time musicians.
As the Orchestra’s Official Public Transport Provider, ScotRail will encourage concert-goers to take the train to the RSNO’s events across the country. Families can also take advantage of Kids Go Free offers for both concert and rail tickets throughout the year.
ScotRail will continue to sponsor the RSNO’s popular festive concert featuring the live screening of Raymond Briggs’ classic animation The Snowman, presented to audiences in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee in December 2015.
RSNO Chief Executive Krishna Thiagarajan: "As Scotland’s national orchestra we naturally travel an enormous amount, so a partnership with ScotRail is highly appropriate for us. With environmental issues and petrol prices in the front of people's minds, this is a very timely new relationship indeed. We are most grateful to ScotRail for their support of our work taking music right across Scotland, and we look forward to a very fruitful partnership over the coming year."
ScotRail’s Head of Marketing and Sales, Nesta Gilliland, said: “This sponsorship reflects our on-going commitment to the arts, music and culture in Scotland. The RSNO presents concerts across Scotland and with services running throughout the country, there are lots of opportunities for families and friends to travel by train and enjoy a fantastic day - or night - out.“
In October 2015 the RSNO begins celebration of its 125th anniversary, coinciding with the organisation’s relocation to a new, purpose-built rehearsal and performance space in the centre of Glasgow. For more information on RSNO concerts and events, visit

Orchestra welcomes conducting apprentices

 Celtic and Scotland goalkeeper Craig Gordon conducts the Orchestra at Glasgow Airport
Celtic and Scotland goalkeeper Craig Gordon conducts the Orchestra at Glasgow Airport
Passengers invited to conduct Scotland’s national orchestra at Glasgow Airport
RSNO Music Director Peter Oundjian passes the baton to Scotland and Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon
On Monday 3 August the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) performed at Glasgow Airport, presenting well-known classical favourites, and provided an opportunity for outgoing travellers to take to the podium before taking their flight.
RSNO Music Director Peter Oundjian led Scotland’s national orchestra for two performances at Glasgow Airport’s Departures area, opening the facility’s Best of Scotland Festival. The festival will give passengers the opportunity to celebrate and experience Scotland’s finest food, drink and culture, and will see the terminal and surrounding areas showcase some of the best tastes, sights and sounds the country has to offer.
As part of the Best of Scotland celebrations, the RSNO’s Peter Oundjian invited willing participants from the passing travellers, including Celtic and Scotland goalkeeper Craig Gordon, who was travelling with the Celtic football team to Azerbaijan for their latest Champions’ League qualifying match, to take to the podium in front of sixty assembled orchestral musicians, providing the opportunity to lead a professional orchestra before catching their plane. The apprentice maestri were offered the choice to conduct either Montagues and Capulets’ from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, more recently adopted as the theme to the BBC TV Series The Apprentice, or Rossini’s William Tell Overture, who many might recognise as the title music to The Lone Ranger.
To add to the pressure of conducting a professional orchestra for the first time, the participants were marked on style and technique by members of Scotland’s national orchestra, and the winners received a gift certificate to spend in the retail outlets, kindly donated by Glasgow Airport.
RSNO Music Director Peter Oundjian: “We’re always looking for new ways to present the live orchestral experience to audiences, and over the past four years we’ve developed a successful partnership with Glasgow Airport. Last year we invited Scottish Commonwealth gold medal-winning judo champion Sarah Clark to conduct the Orchestra in a rendition of Flower of Scotland, and this year I was delighted to be joined in front of the musicians by a flurry of talented first-timers, including Craig Gordon, who turned out to be very good with his hands.”
Steven Marshall, Marketing and Customer Insight Manager at Glasgow Airport: “This summer has been one of our busiest on record, with the launch of some fantastic new routes and services and a series of major events taking place including the IPC swimming championships and the Scottish and British Opens at Gullane and St Andrews.
“For many, Glasgow Airport is their first and last impression of Scotland, and our Best of Scotland campaign is a great way to celebrate the quality of our country’s fare while also providing exciting and interesting entertainment for our passengers.
“The various events and live performances we have planned, including this eagerly anticipated one from RSNO, will no doubt make a real and lasting impression on the hundreds of thousands of people travelling through our doors.  We were delighted to see such an enthusiastic response to the conducting challenge. Many congratulations to all those who took part!”
The RSNO is participating in several key events over the summer. The musicians, led by Peter Oundjian and joined by pianist Igor Levit, will be performing at the Albert Hall, London, as part of the BBC Proms on Wednesday 2 September. It is also a key component in three events at the Edinburgh International Festival this year, as well as presenting a gala celebration, Brewin Dolphin presents Music at the Museum, at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum on Friday 11 and Saturday 12 September. The RSNO’s 2015:16 Season opens with Mahler’s Resurrection, at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh on Friday 2 October and at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Saturday 3 October. For more information please visit