RSNO Chorus appoints conducting fellow

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David Young recruited to Sir Alexander Gibson Memorial Fellowship for Choral Conductors
Twenty-five year old David Young has been appointed as the Sir Alexander Gibson Fellow for Choral Conducting to the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) for 2016:17. David will take up the appointment in the autumn.
David is Choral Director of the Yehudi Menuhin School, Musical Director of Cardiff Polyphonic Choir and Stafford Choral Society, and has recently worked as guest or assistant conductor with New London Chamber Choir, the Royal College of Music Chorus, and St Martin’s Voices.
The Sir Alexander Gibson Memorial Fellowship is open to choral conductors interested in furthering their experience of choral conducting and is the only initiative of its type in the UK. The Fellowship offers the successful candidate the unique opportunity to work at a very high level with the chorus of Scotland’s National Orchestra and its Chorus Director.
The fellowship will involve attendance at a significant number of RSNO Chorus rehearsals. Rehearsals are held on Wednesday evenings in Glasgow and the specific number of rehearsals at which attendance is required will be decided at the discretion of the Chorus Director. David will also attend all conductor’s piano rehearsals, orchestral rehearsals and performances of the RSNO Chorus for one season from September to June and work with the RSNO Chorus Academy. There is also an opportunity to observe and work with the RSNO Junior Chorus and Director Christopher Bell.
RSNO Chorus Director Gregory Batsleer: "David gave an outstanding audition and a very enthusiastic interview and I’m convinced he is the ideal candidate for the fellowship. He will benefit immensely from the experience of working with our singers and, as an already experienced choral conductor, together we will benefit from his input and perspective. I very much look forward to working with him."
New Sir Alexander Gibson Conducting Fellow David Young: “I couldn’t be more delighted to have been offered this Fellowship. It’s a unique opportunity to learn and develop within an outstanding professional ensemble, whose remit across the whole of Scotland and makes it one of the most exciting in the UK. I can’t wait to get started with the RSNO, and know it’s going to be a fantastic year.”
The RSNO Chorus performs in around six different programmes in up to twenty concerts across Scotland with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra each year. The Chorus is currently preparing to perform Verdi’s Requiem with the RSNO, at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall and the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall in early December. For more information visit

New Principal Horn for Scottish Orchestra

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RSNO Associate Principal Horn Christopher Gough promoted to head of section
The Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) has appointed twenty-five year old Christopher Gough as its new Principal Horn. Christopher joined the RSNO as Associate Principal Horn last year.
Christopher, originally from Carshalton, Surrey, attended London’s Junior Royal College of Music from 2003 to 2009 and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland from 2010 until 2015. He has been a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, has benefitted from participating in both the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (BBCSSO) and Scottish Opera Apprenticeship schemes, and has performed with the RSNO, BBC SSO and Scottish Opera. Christopher won Merton Young Musician of the Year in 2003, the Royal Conservatoire of Music Anthony Gray Horn Prize in 2009, and the New Composition Award from the National Festival of Music for Youth in 2006.
RSNO Music Director Peter Oundjian: “It gives me very great pleasure in appointing Chris as Principal Horn of the RSNO. Since he arrived with us in 2015 he has been the consummate professional and a joy to work with and will be a stalwart leader of a leading section with an historic legacy.”
New RSNO Principal Horn Christopher Gough: ‘Having lived and studied in Glasgow over the past six years, it is a great pleasure and privilege for me to now become a member of an orchestra that I’ve listened to and held in such high regard throughout my time in Scotland. Working with the RSNO has already been an incredible learning experience at this early stage of my career, and I’m very excited to continue that experience as the new Principal Horn.”
In addition to appointing Christopher the RSNO also recently welcomed Holly Mathieson as its new Assistant Conductor.
The RSNO continues its 125th anniversary celebration in 2016:17, and opens with Music Director Peter Oundjian conducting a programme which includes Rachmaninov’s Symphony No2, Khachaturian’s Waltz from Masquerade and Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with soloist Nicola Benedetti, at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh on Friday 7 October and at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Saturday 8 October. For more information visit

Young composer wins national prize

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James Nicolson wins Scottish Orchestra’s national competition for composers aged 12-18 years
Fellow competitor Tom Aitken’s work to be performed at the opening of Scottish Parliament in July

Eighteen year old James Nicolson from Kirkwall has won Scotland’s national orchestra’s Notes From Scotland, its annual composition competition specifically for 12-18 year olds based in Scotland.
The theme for the second Notes From Scotland was sourced from Scotland’s contemporary architecture: Maggie’s Highlands; Pier Arts Centre, Orkney; The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh; Shettleston Housing Association, Glasgow, and Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre.
In partnership with the Festival of Architecture 2016 and as part of the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s (RSNO) Notes From Scotland invited young composers to write a two-minute work for an instrumental trio, quartet or quintet. Following the closing date for entries in May five works were chosen to be performed by an RSNO ensemble at the Orchestra’s new auditorium at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall last Saturday evening. A panel of judges including Scottish composer Jennifer Martin selected James Nicolson’s work White Oasis, inspired by the architecture of the recently-restored Pier Arts Centre in Stromness, as the winning entry. James receives an iPad with music software packages included, as well as VIP access to future RSNO concerts.
Composer Jennifer Martin: "The variety of work we see in the course of this initiative is really inspiring. The brief, to express something of a piece of contemporary architecture in sound, is not easy, but our winner did just that. James Nicolson captured the essence of the building and its environmental context beautifully."
Notes From Scotland 2016 winner James Nicolson: “I first heard of the Notes From Scotland through my music teacher who encouraged me to enter a piece into the competition. Before this, the only music writing I had really done was for my music exams so I enjoyed the challenge of writing a more involved composition.
“The day of the final was incredible. Hearing the other finalists’ pieces and getting to meet the other young composers from across Scotland and hearing what inspired their pieces was fantastic. One of the highlights of the whole competition was the rehearsal where the young composes discussed with members of the RSNO how we wanted our compositions to be played. Watching these highly skilled musicians at work was a huge honour and their efficiency and professionalism was awe-inspiring. The whole competition is a fantastic idea and I am thrilled to have been part of such a special event.”
Fellow Notes From Scotland competitor Tom Aitken, whose Piano Quintet No1 was performed on Saturday by the RSNO ensemble and pianist Julia Lynch, will receive a Royal audience, having been chosen to be performed at the official opening of the fifth session of the Scottish Parliament in the presence of the Orchestra’s patron Her Majesty The Queen and Members of the Scottish Parliament,  on Saturday 2 July.
Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh MSP: “Tom Aitken’s piece perfectly encapsulates a day at the Scottish Parliament building – there’s passion, urgency, discord, reflection, and ultimately, harmony. The Scottish Parliament is delighted that it will be played before Her Majesty The Queen and our other guests at the opening of the fifth session of Parliament.
“It is wonderful to see new musical talent like Tom Aitken emerging from Scotland. As the new session of the Scottish Parliament gets under way, it’s right that we provide a platform for bright, young, creative people like Tom and that we put them at the centre of our events.”
Prior to the final concert  composer Stuart MacRae hosted free workshops for entrants at each of the inspiring buildings across Scotland (DCA; Shettleston Housing Association; Pier Arts Centre; The Scottish Parliament; Maggie’s Highlands). The participants were given tours of the sites before receiving an introductory guide to composing to a theme.
Notes From Scotland 2017 will be announced later in the year but for more information visit the competition website,, or contact the RSNO’s Learning and Engagement team on 0141 225 3557 or email

Orchestra performs live to Scottish-funded Oscar-winning animation

Academy Award-winning Peter and the Wolf screened with orchestral accompaniment
The Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) brings the Oscar-winning animated film Peter and the Wolf to Glasgow in June and will perform Prokofiev’s musical symphony for children synchronised for the first time in Scotland.
On Saturday 18 June (11.00am and 2.00pm) at the RSNO’s New Auditorium, Glasgow, Scotland’s national orchestra presents Peter and the Wolf with a screening of British director Suzie Templeton’s Oscar-winning film. This will be the final performances for RSNO Associate Conductor Jean-Claude Picard, whose tenure concludes this summer.
The idea to create a new film version of the Peter and The Wolf story came from conductor Mark Stephenson. His vision was for a film which would synchronise with Prokofiev’s much-loved score. allowing orchestras around the world to show the film during a live concert performance of the music.
He discussed the idea with producer  Hugh Welchman who  approached animation director Suzie Templeton, the beginning of the journey to create a future animation classic which took five years to complete.
The film project started to gather artistic and financial support, especially from Channel 4 TV and the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA). By bringing the Polish stop-motion specialist, Se-ma-for Studios, onto the team the producers were able to secure an experienced animation team as well as invaluable financial support from the Polish Film Institute.
Glasgow-based investment firm Kreis Consulting Ltd were impressed by the project and assisted in raising a third of the final production budget. A new production company was established – BreakThru Peter Ltd. The balance of funding required was raised in Switzerland through Archangel SA, a Kreis group company.
With the funding secured, the artistic team set about their work and the film premiered at the Royal Albert Hall in September 2006 with Mark Stephenson conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra. The film was met with critical acclaim, both from audiences and film industry insiders, and went on to win the Academy Award for Best Short Animated Film in 2008.
Co-founder of Kreis Consulting, Christopher McGinty: “As a former member of the RSNO Chorus I’m blessed with a reasonable understanding of what works for professional orchestras. When this project was first proposed it struck me that my company could help direct the funding required to complete the production. I’m proud that a Glasgow-based business played a part in the realisation of an Academy-award winning film. As the animation approaches its tenth anniversary it’s gratifying that the film will be screened with Scotland’s national orchestra, an ensemble I performed with for many years.”
Peter and the Wolf is for children aged seven and over and their families/guardians. Prior to each performance there will be craft sessions held at the RSNO Centre for audience members, as well as Instrument Petting Zoos, an opportunity for children to interact with RSNO musicians and try out various orchestral instruments, including violins, cellos and trombones.
For more information visit

RSNO’s Michael Devlin selected for unique experience in Los Angeles

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RSNO External Relations team member to participate in a ten-day professional development seminar in Los Angeles, California. 
Michael Devlin is one of thirty emerging orchestra managers from across the world that will take part in the League of American Orchestras’ Essentials of Orchestra Management – a programme that aims to provide participants with an in-depth overview of orchestra management, build career networks, and provide an unprecedented view of what is necessary to become a successful leader in the arts.
Invited speakers include Deborah Borda, president of the Los Angeles Philharmonic; Gustavo Dudamel, music and artistic director, Los Angeles Philharmonic; Brent Assink, executive director of the San Francisco Symphony; Simon Woods, president & CEO (Former RSNO Chief Executive); top consultants and funders, and staff and board members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, among others.
RSNO Chief Executive, Krishna Thiagarajan: “We are delighted that Michael will be representing Scotland’s National Orchestra, as well as the wider British arts community, at this prestigious seminar. Not only will he learn invaluable skills and advice from many of America’s most inspiring leaders, but I am confident that he will return to Scotland enthused by the passionate debates and unique experiences that this programme will no doubt offer.”
Michael Devlin: “I’m thrilled to have been chosen to participate in this exciting course for aspiring orchestra managers. Above all, I’m looking forward to being part of a rich cultural exchange that will hopefully provide me with a strong foundation for contributing effectively to the advancement of the arts in Scotland and beyond in the future.”
Michael joined the RSNO in July 2015, after graduating from the University of Edinburgh with a degree in Economics & Accounting. He is passionate about the contribution that the arts can bring to society, particularly orchestral music-making. Michael was Principal Clarinet of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain (NYOGB) in 2013 and is presently conductor of Edinburgh University Music Society’s Sinfonia. Before joining the RSNO External Relations team, he gained experience working for Aldeburgh Music and NYOGB.
For more information about the League of American Orchestras and the Essentials of Orchestra Management course please visit

RSNO appoints new Assistant Conductor

Holly Mathieson beats over 300 applicants to join Scotland’s national orchestra for two years
New Zealand conductor Holly Mathieson, currently based in the UK, has been appointed as the Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s (RSNO) new Assistant Conductor, following a recruitment process which attracted over three-hundred applicants world-wide.
Holly has previously been assistant to former RSNO Principal Guest Conductor Marin Alsop, Assistant Conductor to Donald Runnicles at the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and continues as conductor for the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland’s Junior Orchestra. She succeeds Jean-Claude Picard, who concluded his term as Assistant Conductor last year and was subsequently promoted to RSNO Associate Conductor for an additional season. Jean-Claude conducts his final performance with the RSNO as Associate Conductor on Saturday 18 June.
The RSNO Assistant Conductorship is a two-year post, and benefits from the continued support of the John Mather Charitable Trust. The scheme is a rare opportunity for conductors keen to develop their talent and experience, and previous post-holders have found their time with a major symphony orchestra significantly improved their career prospects. Former Assistant Conductors have gone on to lead major symphony orchestras. Christian Kluxen is signed to major international artistic agency Hazard Chase and David Danzmayr is now Music Director of Ohio’s ProMusica Chamber Orchestra and Music Director of the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra.
Seven candidates were invited to the RSNO Centre in May for audition with full orchestra, where the applicants were invited to conduct a mixture of repertoire. Following the audition three candidates were invited to the final round of interviews.
As RSNO Assistant Conductor, Holly Mathieson will conduct a variety of the Orchestra’s concerts, and will also play an active role in engaging audiences and communities throughout Scotland. In addition to many conducting opportunities, a key aspect of the RSNO’s Assistant Conductor role is to provide a supportive mentoring and learning environment, through on-going professional evaluation and guidance from RSNO Music Director Peter Oundjian and player-mentors in the Orchestra. Furthermore, Holly will have the opportunity to work with many guest conductors, and develop the multi-faceted leadership, organisational and public address skills required of modern conductors.
RSNO Chief Executive Krishna Thiagarajan: “We received applications from many talented individuals but Holly’s application presented everything we were looking for. She is already an accomplished musician, having gained experience as a conductor with several ensembles including our friends at the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, so it’s pleasing to be able to continue the Scottish connection for her and to use that experience to her and our advantage. It gives me great pleasure in welcoming her to the RSNO family. In the coming years she will play a vital and rewarding role in the musical life of Scotland.”
New RSNO Assistant Conductor Holly Mathieson: "I am absolutely delighted to be coming back to Glasgow to take on the position of Assistant Conductor with the RSNO. With the calibre of conductors regularly working with the Orchestra, the breadth of repertoire and the active nature of the role, this is rightly considered one of the greatest assistant conductor positions around the world. Not least, I am really humbled to be able to work under Peter Oundjian and Thomas Søndergård for the next two years, and learn as much as I can from them both and the wonderful players. I'm strongly connected to my Scottish ancestry, and have existing ties with Glasgow through NYOS, RCS and BBCSSO, so it really feels like I'm coming back to one of my home cities."