Young composer in Season Finale

Lillie Harris

Lillie Harris’ new composition wins vote of RSNO Composers’ Hub panel

A twenty-two year old composer has won the opportunity to have her music performed as part of the final concerts of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s (RSNO) Season.

Lillie Harris, one of five members of RSNO Composers’ Hub, will have her ten-minute work performed alongside two of the greatest examples of orchestral repertoire; Richard Strauss’ Four Last Songs and Beethoven’s Symphony No9 Choral, at the final concerts of the RSNO’s 2015:16 Season as it celebrates its 125th anniversary, at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh on Friday 27 May and at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Saturday 28 May.

Aimed at composers in the early stages of their career, RSNO Composers’ Hub is an opportunity for a group of composers to write for 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.

During the final Composers’ Hub workshop of its inaugural year - which was held at the new RSNO Centre last Saturday -  the five participants’ works were performed by the Orchestra in front of a panel of judges, comprising internationally renowned composers Brett Dean and Stuart MacRae, RSNO Principal Bassoon David Hubbard, Executive Producer Manus Carey and RSNO Associate Conductor Jean-Claude Picard. Lillie’s work, remiscipate, derives its name from the amalgamation of ‘reminisce’ and ‘dissipate’ and takes its inspiration from the recent demolition of Glasgow’s Red Road Flats.

Composer Lillie Harris: “"It has been a real honour to have been part of Composers’ Hub - the people and performers of the RSNO have all been incredibly welcoming and generous. The amount of practical workshop time the RSNO gave all five of us feels unprecedented, and I know I have grown so much as a composer this year as a result.

“As a young composer, to be offered the chance to write such a substantial piece for a large orchestra, and not only hear it played, but to participate in a  workshop with some of the best orchestral players around, giving us practical and useful feedback in real time, was utterly invaluable. I am so grateful for the time and attention all five of us were given by the players, Jean-Claude Picard, Brett Dean, Stuart MacRae, and all the team at RSNO throughout our time with them. It’s fantastic to learn that Composers’ Hub will run again next year, as such a positive and beneficial scheme for composers deserves to continue, training fresh talent."

RSNO Executive Producer Manus Carey: “Our five composers, selected from nearly 80 applicants, have been spending time rehearsing and discussing their work with the Orchestra, under the direction of internationally-renowned composers, Brett Dean and Stuart MacRae.  Although the scheme is not a competition and is very much focussed on process and development, we wanted to provide an opportunity for a public performance of one of the works, and we have selected remiscipate to be performed as part of our final season performances in Glasgow and Edinburgh.  The standard of all five works was very high, but we felt that Lillie Harris’ individual voice came across in the workshop, as well as the imaginative handling of her chosen subject matter.”

To book tickets for Glasgow Royal Concert Hall performances contact the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall Box Office on  0141 353 8000. For Usher Hall, Edinburgh concerts call 0131 228 1155. For more information visit www.rsno.org.uk.

The RSNO Composers' Hub is supported by PRS for Music Foundation.

Spring Rite Time for Stravinsky

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Learn about, listen to and join in with Stravinsky and the RSNO this spring

Seven events over two weeks focusing on one of the 20th century’s most influential composers

From Sunday 24 April to Saturday 7 May the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) will be under the influence of one of 20th century’s most thrilling and era-defining composers, Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky.

The composer receives special attention over a two-week celebration showcasing some of his greatest works. Principal Guest Conductor Thomas Søndergård leads the Orchestra for the exploratory presentation Under the Skin of Stravinsky at the RSNO’s New Auditorium and explores two distinct aspects to this selcouth composer in concert, focusing on three of his neo-classical works as well as his explosive and highly influential ballet music, The Rite of Spring.

Friday 29 April at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh and at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Saturday 30 April sees Stravinsky’s Symphony in C, when Principal Guest Conductor Thomas Søndergård juxtaposes two of Schubert’s early symphonies (symphonies Three and Four) with Stravinsky’s first major composition since his emigration to the United States, Symphony in Three Movements and the Symphony in C, written just prior to his leaving Europe. At the Caird Hall, Dundee on Thursday 28 April the Orchestra will perform Schubert’s Symphony No3, Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements and Dvořák’s Cello Concerto, with RSNO Principal Cello Aleksei Kiseliov as soloist, who recently won the coveted BelBrand International Music Award.

Under The Skin Of…returns to the New Auditorium at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Tuesday 3 May (7.30pm) to consider the life and achievements of Stravinsky, with particular focus on The Rite of Spring, performed by full symphony orchestra, led by RSNO Principal Guest Conductor Thomas Søndergård and presented by broadcaster Sandy Burnett.

The Stravinsky Project comes to a close with performances of Stravinsky’s ballet work The Rite of Spring (Friday 6 May, Usher Hall, Edinburgh; Saturday 7 May, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall). Complementing the complete ballet music will be a performance of the composer’s neo-classical Violin Concerto, featuring Spanish soloist Leticia Moreno (replacing an indisposed Stefan Jackiw) who makes her RSNO début.

Prior to The Stravinsky Project concerts the Orchestra invites amateur musicians to join it for rehearsals and an informal performance at the New Auditorium, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Participants will rehearse with RSNO musicians from 10.00am until 4.00pm with a public performance from 6.00pm that evening. The all-Stravinsky programme includes excerpts from The Firebird Suite (1919) and Circus Polka, and the ensemble will be led by RSNO Associate Conductor Jean-Claude Picard. There is a Grade Seven suggested minimum requirement for participants. To find out more please call the Learning and Engagement Team on 0141 225 3553. Attending the concert as an audience member is free but should be booked in advance by calling 0141 353 8000.

 

To book tickets for Glasgow Royal Concert Hall performances (including those held in the New Auditorium) contact the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall Box Office on  0141 353 8000. For Usher Hall, Edinburgh concerts call 0131 228 1155. For more information visit www.rsno.org.uk.

Prokofiev Discover Day with Katherine Wren

Well, right now I am working on a symphonic suite of waltzes, which will include three waltzes from Cinderella, two waltzes from War and Peace and one waltz from the movie score Lermontov. The War and Peace has just been brilliantly produced in Leningrad, where the composer Cheshko made an especially noteworthy appearance as a tenor, giving a superb performance in the role of Pierre Bezukhov. Besides this suite, I am working on a sonata for violin and piano [No. 1 in F minor], upon completion of which I will resume work on the Sixth Symphony, which I had started last year. I have just completed three suites from the Cinderella ballet and I am now turning the score over to copyists for writing the parts, so that most likely the suites will already be performed at the beginning of the fall season

The above quote from 1946 gives us a wonderful insight into the workaholic Prokofiev’s mind. Come and join me in Edinburgh as we explore the background to Prokofiev's Cinderella, written in the grand fairy-tale tradition of the great Tchaikovsky ballets. We will set the ballet in its historical context, looking at Prokofiev's return to Russia in 1935 and what this meant musically to an artist used to working in the liberal environment of Paris and the USA. Cinderella was written during World War II, a surprisingly productive period for Prokofiev. Other works from this period include one of his best-loved symphonies, no. 5, the film score to Ivan the Terrible and the epic opera on Tolstoy's War and Peace. Prokofiev became almost obsessive about this opera, and it eventually brought him into conflict with Stalin’s notorious culture minister, Zhdanov.

In the morning, we will look at the first part of Prokofiev's career, prior to taking a closer look at the 4th Piano Concerto, which the RSNO will play with Alexander Lazarev and Nikolai Lugansky in the same programme as Cinderella. This rarely performed concerto was one of several commissioned from prominent composers of the time by Paul Wittgenstein, who lost his right arm in World War I. Neither he nor Prokofiev was particularly well-versed in social etiquette, which led to some frank exchanges between the two men! You can read more on Wittgenstein in our Executive Producer, Manus Carey's blog.

Come along to the Usher Hall on Saturday 9 April from 10:30am - 4:30pm to find out more and to welcome our special guests from Scottish Ballet, music director Richard Honner and Chief Executive and Artistic Director Chris Hampson, fresh from their winter production of Cinderella.

Oh, and don't forget to buy your tickets to hear Lazarev and Lugansky perform these great works in Perth Concert Hall on Thursday 14 April 2016, Edinburgh's Usher Hall on Friday 15 April 2016, and at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Saturday 16 April 2016!

Lugansky and Prokofiev with the RSNO in 2016

Nikolai Lugansky Photo: Marco Borggreve

Nikolai Lugansky
Photo: Marco Borggreve

Russian pianist celebrates twenty years relationship with Scotland by performing complete cycle of Prokofiev’s concertos

As part of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s 125th anniversary celebrations, Russian pianist Nikolai Lugansky, whom The Guardian described as “…a true inheritor of a profound keyboard tradition…”, and who has a relationship with the RSNO spanning twenty years, will return in April for his first of four 2016 visits which will see him perform all five of Prokofiev’s Piano Concertos in the 125th anniversary year of the composer’s birth and Orchestra’s founding.

Nikolai made his Scottish debut with the RSNO in October 1996, performing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No1 and his second BBC Proms appearance in September 2003, also with the RSNO, performing Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No1. Since then he has joined the Orchestra on four further occasions, including another BBC Proms appearance in 2013 and a joint visit to the Aix en Provence Music Festival in the same year.

Nikolai and the RSNO commence the concerto cycle in April when they perform Prokofiev’s concerto for the left hand, Piano Concerto No4, commissioned by Austrian one-armed pianist Paul Wittgenstein, also famed for commissioning, amongst others, Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand (to be performed by Steven Osborne and the RSNO this coming April), in a programme paired with the orchestral suite from the composer’s accompaniment to the ballet Cinderella, led by the RSNO’s Principal Conductor from 1994 to 2005, Alexander Lazarev.

He re-joins the Orchestra and RSNO Music Director Peter Oundjian the following month for performances of the Second Piano Concerto, counterpointed in the programme with Shostakovich’s Symphony No8.

Returning for the Orchestra’s 2016:17 Season, in early November Nikolai performs Prokofiev’s fifth and first Piano Concertos in the same programme and concludes the concerto cycle with the most popular of the five, Piano Concerto No3, the following week.

Pianist Nikolai Lugansky: “The RSNO is an orchestra with which I have a very special relationship. I am always excited and honoured to return to this orchestra and to Scotland, with its wonderful people and cities. I have many special memories playing with this orchestra, including the concert at the Proms a few years ago.”

RSNO Music Director Peter Oundjian: “To the audience it’s abundantly clear that the RSNO and Nikolai have this connection, something rare which in part stems from the length of the relationship. I’ve known Nikolai for a number of years now and always look forward to our performances together. His combination of pointillist technique, deeply ingrained understanding and feeling is so valuable and such a joy to experience. It’s only fitting that he should be our principal guest soloist in 2016, performing these five concertos in the 125th anniversary of both composer and orchestra.

The Prokofiev Piano Concerto Cycle with Nikolai Lugansky commences with Lazarev Conducts Cinderella at Perth Concert Hall on Thursday 14 April, at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh on Friday 15 April and at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Saturday 16 April. For more information visit www.rsno.org.uk.