New Leader for the RSNO

Image: RSNO Leader Sharon Roffman

Sharon Roffman becomes the 21st Leader of Scotland's national orchestra

North American violinist Sharon Roffman has been appointed Leader of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Roffman will share the role with current Leader Maya Iwabuchi, who was appointed to the position in 2011. Roffman succeeds previous Leader James Clark, who departed in 2015.

Graduate of New York's Julliard School of Music, Roffman has performed with some of the world's major symphony and chamber ensembles. In addition, she has forged an impressive career as a soloist, making her debut in 1996 with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and her Carnegie Hall debut with Itzhak Perlman performing Vivaldi's Concerto for Four Violins in 2004.

Roffman is an advocate of combining performance and education, and is the founder and Artistic Director of ClassNotes, a chamber ensemble dedicated to introducing school pupils to classical music through interdisciplinary school residencies and performances.

Roffman joins the RSNO as the twenty-first Leader of Scotland's national orchestra in early 2018. Her first appearance with the Orchestra was with Music Director Peter Oundjian in a programme which included the Scottish premiere of James MacMillan's Little Mass, Szymanowski's Violin Concerto No2 (with soloist Nicola Benedetti) and Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique, in 2016.

Roffman plays a 1776 Giovanni Battista Guadagnini violin from Turin and an Étienne Pajeot bow.

Newly appointed RSNO Leader Sharon Roffman: "From the first note I played with the RSNO I felt an instant camaraderie with the musicians and a common artistic vision.  I'm so excited to join the RSNO team, discover Glasgow and connect with the community here, and most of all, I'm proud to share the stage with these wonderful colleagues with whom I look forward to many moments of exhilarating music-making together!"

RSNO Music Director Peter Oundjian: "Sharon is such a gifted musician and a marvellous fit for the RSNO, and I'm delighted that she has accepted the position. Her experience and tenacity will bring increased strength to our unit. Furthermore, her enthusiasm for music education is totally aligned with the RSNO's commitment to broadening the appeal of orchestral music. I very much look forward to welcoming her to the Orchestra."

For more information on RSNO concerts and events, visit

New members for RSNO Composers' Hub

Scotland's national orchestra welcomes five emerging composers to third nurturing initiative

Five emerging UK composers have been selected to benefit from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra's RSNO Composers' Hub, the third annual initiative to develop the talents of individuals in the early stages of their careers.
Anna Appleby, Daniel Figols-Cuevas, Neil Smith, Michael Cryne and Nick Morrish Rarity have been selected as the third group of participants of the scheme. They will be given the opportunity 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.

The five composers will spend the 2017:18 Season with the RSNO and during their term each composer will write a ten-minute work for full symphony orchestra.  The scheme will culminate in a public workshop in the RSNO Centre's New Auditorium in Glasgow in April 2018, conducted by RSNO Assistant Conductor Holly Mathieson and led by internationally-renowned composer Gary Carpenter, Professor at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester and Professor of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music London, from which one work will be chosen to be performed by the RSNO as part of its 2018:19 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 Director of Planning and Engagement Bill Chandler: "Composers' Hub is three years in and going from strength-to-strength. The success of the scheme is evident from the enthusiasm expressed by previous members of the Hub and the number of applications we receive. Furthermore, it is a rare opportunity to have an emerging composer's work performed by a professional symphonic ensemble.

We welcome Gary Carpenter, who joins as mentor, to share his vast knowledge and experience with this year's group and to help select a work from our participants to be performed by the RSNO."

Composer and Composers' Hub mentor for 2017:18, Gary Carpenter: "I am excited and honoured to have been invited to mentor these gifted young professionals on the RSNO Composers' Hub, one of the most important and vital opportunities available to young composers in the UK today."

Lillie Harris, who was one of the first participants of Composers' Hub and who received the opportunity to have her work performed at the RSNO's 2015:16 Season finale: "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 as a result."

To apply for RSNO Composers' Hub, applicants were invited to submit a CV, a one-page letter explaining why the scheme would be suitable, and two examples of their own compositions (preferably at least one for full orchestra), with scores and sound samples.

This month the RSNO began its 2017:18 Season, opening with the Scottish premiere of UK composer Gavin Higgins' Velocity. Last year's Composers' Hub participant Daniel Kidane earned the chance to have one of his compositions, Zulu, premiered by the RSNO in November, as part of the programme marking Remembrance Week, in association with Poppy Scotland. The current Season will also feature performances of other contemporary works, including the Scottish premiere of John Harbison's Double Concerto, Wolfgang Rihm's Duo Concerto, Sally Beamish's Whitescape, Oliver Searle's Sauchiehall, Judith Weir's Still, Glowing, and the premiere of Jennifer Higdon's Tuba Concerto, performed by RSNO Principal Tuba John Whitener.

For more information on RSNO concerts and events, visit

A Quick Q&A with James Ehnes

A Quick Q&A with Canadian violinist James Ehnes ahead of his performances of Beethoven's Violin Concert with the RSNO this week.

What's your own history with the Beethoven Violin Concerto? How long have you been playing it?
I was lucky to have the opportunity to first perform the Beethoven when I was quite young, 16 I think. I think I've probably played it more than any other piece in my repertoire! I've had a lot of special experiences with the piece, and one of the great joys of playing it is that it's always a slightly different creature depending on the conductor, orchestra, hall, etc. I played it with Ed Gardner in Birmingham last season, and am greatly looking forward to revisiting it with him this week.
Your recording of the Concerto is released this autumn - is there a reason that you've waited until now to record the piece?
Not really; it was just a case of the circumstances being perfect. It's been my philosophy with recordings to pursue the projects that "work" - the right combination of collaborators, the right producer/engineer, the right repertoire of course - rather than trying to force projects based on abstract idea of what one "should" be releasing at a particular time in one's career. With last year's recording, all sorts of things fell into place that made it seem like the perfect thing at the perfect time. I'm very proud of the way it turned out.
What do you particularly enjoy about the piece? And how would you describe it challenges - both technical and musical/emotional?
I find it to be a very uplifting and energizing experience. It is supremely beautiful and lyrical, but also tremendously exciting and triumphant. It is certainly a difficult and intricate piece violinistically, but I think the greatest challenge lies in the pacing; it is important (in my opinion) to find the right balance between enjoying all its moments of extreme beauty and keeping the momentum and not losing the architecture of the piece as a whole.
You won the Instrumentalist of the Year award at the 2017 RPS awards - what does the award mean to you?
It is a great honour! I have had the very great fortune of performing a great deal over the years all over the United Kingdom, from Orkney to Brighton; the UK and its music lovers have meant a lot to me, so it was very special to be recognised for the wonderful experiences I have had sharing music in this country.

James Ehnes performs Beethoven's Violin Concerto in Perth Concert Hall on Thursday 12 October, the Usher Hall, Edinburgh on Friday 13 October and the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Saturday 14 October.

Benedetti and RSNO post open invitation

Peter Oundjian and Nicola Benedetti

Nicola Benedetti and Scotland's national orchestra welcome guests to their rehearsal to mark the start of a new Season
Scotland's national orchestra and the nation's cherished violinist Nicola Benedetti invite their supporters to join them in rehearsal to celebrate the start of a new orchestral Season.
Scotland's orchestral season begins in earnest in October, when the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) opens 2017:18 with concerts in Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow, featuring soloist Nicola Benedetti.
To celebrate, and to mark the first concerts of Peter Oundjian's final Season as RSNO Music Director, Peter, Nicola and the Orchestra invite their supporters to join them at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow from 1.30pm to 2.30pm to witness the musicians preparing for the opening concerts. During the rehearsal, Nicola Benedetti and the RSNO will perform Elgar's Violin Concerto, considered one of the most technically demanding violin concertos of the 20th century.
In contrast to the etiquette expected of attendees of orchestral concerts, visitors to this rehearsal will be encouraged to participate in social media activity, using the method of their choice. Audience members will be able to converse in real time across various social media platforms, including Facebook (@royalscottishnationalorchestra, @NicolaBenedettiViolin); Twitter (@rsno, @NickyBenedetti) and Instagram (@officialrsno) using the hashtag #OpenRSNO.
Those interested in attending the Social Media Open Rehearsal on Wednesday 4 October (1.30-2.30pm) are asked to email their request to before 5.30pm on Tuesday 3 October.
Spaces are limited and provided on a first-come-first-served basis. Applicants' names will be added to a guest list and attendees are requested to check-in at the ticket desk, located near the box office at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.
The RSNO opens its 2017:18 Season this week at the Caird Hall, Dundee (Thursday 5 October), the Usher Hall, Edinburgh (Friday 6 October) and the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall (Saturday 7 October). The programme features the Scottish premiere of Gavin Higgins' Velocity, Elgar's Violin Concerto and Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring.
For more information on RSNO concerts and events, visit