A Look Back at 2023 - Royal Scottish National Orchestra
A Look Back at 2023

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A Look Back at 2023 Posted Mon 1 January 2024

A Look Back at 2023

Happy New Year! As we welcome in 2024, we take a look back at 2023 – a year that featured exciting musical ventures, wonderful guest artists, Hollywood connections and new partnerships. Read on to discover our highlights.

January 2023 – We kicked off 2023 with beautiful music! We toured Scotland with performances of our Viennese Gala in Perth, Dunfermline, Langholm, Inverness, Musselburgh and Greenock; released an archive recording of Beethoven’s Choral Symphony, which can be watched on our YouTube channel, and premiered Lisa Robertson’s am fìor-eun, a piece that was created during her time in the RSNO’s Composers Hub. Watch am fìor-eun here.

We also ventured into the wonderful world of TikTok – join us!

February 2023 – We premiered Once Upon A Tune, our concert and learning experience for primary school children, with performances in Motherwell, Inverness, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Perth. Presented by artist James Mayhew and conducted by RSNO Engagement Conductor Ellie Slorach, Once Upon A Tune introduced over 27,500 children to classical music through engaging storytelling.

Once Upon A Tune is now available for families to enjoy as part of the RSNO’s Noisy Library. Find out more.

March 2023 – A month of great concerts! Saxophonist Jess Gillam joined us for music by Glazunov and Milhaud, artist James Mayhew painted Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition live on stage, John Wilson conducted Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances and we brought The Music of John Williams to the SEC Armadillo. This month, we also bid a fond farewell to Elim Chan, our Principal Guest Conductor of five years, with a stunning performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No5.

April 2023 – We were thrilled to announce that Music Director Thomas Søndergård had extended his contract to the 2024:25 Season, with a commitment to work together beyond that point. In 2024, we are looking forward to performing Debussy’s La Mer, Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No5 and Berlioz’s Grande Messe with Thomas, all of which can be booked now! Stay tuned for details of our 2024:25 Season coming soon.

May 2023 – We returned to Europe for a four-night tour of beautiful concert halls in Austria, Italy, Slovenia and Liechtenstein with soloists Leif Ove Andsnes, who performed Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No3, and Matthias Höfs, who performed Fazil Say’s Concerto for Trumpet and Organ. A highlight for many of our musicians was performing music by Sir James MacMillan, Fazil Say and Shostakovich in the iconic setting of Vienna’s Musikverein.

June 2023 – This month, we celebrated our 50th Anniversary Gala Ball at voco Grand Central, Glasgow. Thanks to the generous donations of guests, sponsors and supporters, the event raised over £100,000 to support the work of the RSNO. The Gala Ball also saw the unveiling of Gerard M Burns’ new work A Portrait of Music, inspired by Britten’s War Requiem. The three pieces will be displayed at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall in 2024.

Find out more about A Portrait of Music here.

July 2023 – We released three recorded concerts as part of our Digital Care Packages, available for free to anyone living or working in care homes, hospices, healthcare settings or homecare. The digital concerts, available to watch on our website, featured Beethoven’s Symphony No4 directed by Sharon Roffman, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No4 performed by pianist Steven Osborne and a selection of music by Holst, Mendelssohn, Mozart and more performed at V&A Dundee.

To access our Digital Care Packages, sign-up here.

August 2023 – We were delighted to be welcomed back to the Edinburgh International Festival for three very different concerts. We opened the Festival with the Scottish premiere of Academy-Award winner Tan Dun’s Buddha Passion, conducted by the composer himself and featuring the RSNO Youth Chorus. Our second concert saw us perform alongside the National Youth Choir of Scotland for Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb and Duruflé’s Requiem, and finally, we reunited with conductor Sir Andrew Davis for Tippett’s poignant A Child of Our Time.

The critics seemed to love our concerts as much as us!

“Exquisite playing right across the platform from the RSNO”
5 Stars: The Guardian / The Scotsman / The Herald / The Arts Desk / North West End

September 2023 – This month saw the release of Denzel Washington’s The Equalizer 3, the score of which was recorded by the Orchestra in Scotland’s Studio. It’s been a great year for Studio recordings. Recent releases include Netflix’s Life on Our Planet, Ubisoft’s Avatar Frontiers of Pandora video game, Apple TV’s Silo and ‘Luminous The Symphony of Us’ for Disney Parks’ EPCOT. Lots more to come in 2024!

October 2023 – A busy month! We opened our 2023:24 Season with Richard Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben conducted by Music Director Thomas Søndergård; released the second volume of African American Voices with Linn Records, conducted by our Associate Artist Kellen Gray, and returned to Salzburg, Austria for a three-night residency at Grosses Festspielhaus with pianist Lise de la Salle. The start of the residency marked 56 years since our first visit to the venue, which also happened to be the Orchestra’s first ever tour!

November 2023 – We announced an exciting new global partnership with Charanga – the online music teaching and learning platform for teachers. Users of Charanga Scotland are now able to access our popular programmes for children. We were delighted to launch the partnership with students at St Rose of Lima Primary School and Culture Minister Christina McKelvie.

We also performed some wonderful concerts including Sibelius’ Violin Concerto with Ray Chen; a 70th birthday celebration for RSNO Composer in Residence Patrick Doyle, with special guests Richard E Grant and Peter Capaldi, and Sir James MacMillan’s Christmas Oratorio conducted by the composer himself and featuring the RSNO Chorus, singers Rhian Lois and Roderick Williams, and BSL performer Paul Whittaker. A great showcase for the RSNO Chorus in its 180th anniversary year, the performance received 5 stars from The Times, The Scotsman, The Herald and Arts Desk.

To celebrate 180 years of the RSNO Chorus, we’ve put together a short film with Chorus members and Chorus Director Stephen Doughty. Watch here.

December 2023 – We closed the year in true festive fashion with Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, which can be viewed on Classic FM’s YouTube channel, and our beloved Christmas Concerts featuring The Snowman, presented by special guest Hugh Dennis and conducted by the great Neil Ferris (check out that shirt!).

From all of us at the RSNO, we’d like to thank our audiences, supporters, sponsors and communities for being part of our work in 2023. Here’s to a musical 2024!

Photo credits:
January: Martin Shields
February: Martin Shields
March: Jess Cowley
April: Sally Jubb
June: Gerard M Burns
July: Alan Richardson
August: Jess Shurte
October: Rosie Clark
November: John Young
December: Martin Shields

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