RSNO Chief Executive appointed to top post at ABRSM

Michael Elliott will head the leading authority on musical assessment, the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, from 2015

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) today announces that, following his appointment as Executive Director of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM), Michael Elliott will leave his post as Chief Executive of the Orchestra in January 2015.

Elliott’s tenure has witnessed a successful partnership of organisation and artistic direction. Varied and interesting seasons of both established and more novel programmes have been encouraged under the musical direction of Peter Oundjian. These have ranged from an acclaimed performance of Mahler Symphony No8 as the climax of 2013:14 Season to a continuing exploration of the works of 20th century American composers. Their collaboration has ensured that the Orchestra’s reputation for bringing the highest quality of music and musical performers to Scottish audiences has been maintained and enhanced. A recent comment from a music critic described the Orchestra’s performance as, “… the finest I have heard in many years. Absolutely everything was spot on...”

Elliott’s leadership has been marked by major achievements for the Orchestra and has laid the foundations for future important developments. His vision of an RSNO that should reach a wider and more diverse public has met with success. The Orchestra’s CD, Astar, was distributed by Scotland’s Registry Office to every child born in Scotland, approximately 85,000, coinciding with the Year of Creative Scotland (2012) and a new engagement strategy is reaching 50,000 young people per school year. The Scottish Government’s International Touring Fund enabled the organisation of a highly successful tour of China led by Peter Oundjian in his first season. A new strand of ‘Folk, Film and Festive’ themed programmes has increased and created a set of more diverse audiences. The Orchestra’s programme of regional touring has been expanded. Examples of the RSNO’s expanded range of partnerships include joint ventures with Classic FM, the National Trust for Scotland, Glasgow Airport and the Celtic Connections festival.

Of fundamental importance has been the maintenance of highly positive relationships with funders and supporters. The RSNO’s achievements, during the last three years, have been made possible through continued support from the Scottish Government and, crucially, an increasing number of private supporters. The RSNO has both sustained and grown vital relationships with corporate partners, trusts, foundations and individuals, introducing new donors to the Orchestra. The creation and funding of the new home for the Orchestra in new build at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall will remain a milestone of the Elliott administration.

Announcing his departure RSNO Chief Executive Michael Elliott said:

Scotland’s National Orchestra is in excellent musical and organisational shape with new and growing audiences for its performances and engagement programmes across Scotland. It will be a considerable wrench, therefore, for me to leave this fabulous team of musicians, Chorus and Youth Chorus members, and staff at the end of the year at the very moment they move into their magnificent new home. I thank them, our audiences, funders, donors, sponsors, and our exceptional Board of Trustees for the support they have shown for the RSNO throughout my period as Chief Executive. It continues to be a tremendous privilege to serve the RSNO and Scotland and I will always remain an enthusiastic ambassador for this great Orchestra and nation.

RSNO Chair Brian Lang said:

Michael Elliott has been a highly successful Chief Executive for the RSNO. His period in office has seen the growth in the size and diversity of audiences, artistic success, and increasing support from funders and supporters. He has made a substantial impact on planning for the new home that will replace Henry Wood Hall. As we approach our 125th Anniversary, the Board is grateful to Michael for all he has done to put the Orchestra in good shape for the future. We will miss him, but wish him well in his new venture. A recruitment process is already underway to find his successor.

Composer Ned Bigham muses over recording his new album with the RSNO

Culebra, recorded in part by the RSNO at the Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow

My name is Ned Bigham and I am a composer published by Faber Music (www.nedbigham.com). I have been lucky enough to record pieces from my forthcoming album Culebra, released on 23rd June, with the RSNO. It was a great experience. In case anyone is interested to hear about the recording process, here goes:

A month before the recording session, I sent all the instrumental parts and a copy of the score to the very helpful RSNO Librarian, Richard Payne. He then circulated them to the players, so they had a chance to prepare prior to the session, and in particular to the Leader James Clark, so he could finalize the bowings for the string players.

I also met up with the conductor, the acclaimed Gregory Rose, and over a cup of coffee we discussed performance issues such as tempi and how we would approach the recording process. This was preferable to making decisions two minutes before kick-off (and it’s at that point that the composer realizes the bass clarinet is in the wrong clef!).

In the meantime Nick Lander, Concert and Tours Manager (now Director of Presentation and Operations), and Sam McShane, Assistant Orchestra Manager, coordinated among other things: percussion requirements, booking a harpist (the virtuoso Pippa Tunnell) and finalising the layout of the orchestra. I should also mention Gale Mahood, who kindly and efficiently handled the administrative side.

On the day, Nick and the RSNO Team welcomed us to Henry Wood Hall. Our recording engineer Calum Malcolm, ably assisted by Paul Fergusson and trainees from Edinburgh Napier University, had been there since dawn, positioning microphones and setting up the equipment (including more cables than I’ve had hot dinners). He found himself a control room deep in the basement below the hall, where he could monitor the recording uninterrupted.

We had a lot of material to record, close on twenty minutes of music and not altogether straightforward to play. The four pieces are named after places in the Highlands: Glenfinglas, Portsonachan, Sail Mhor and An Caisteal. These valleys, hills and hamlets have inspired me with the grandeur and beauty of their landscape, and it is some of this epic quality that I hoped to translate into music.

British orchestras have a reputation for being the best sight-readers in the world, and the RSNO did not disappoint. But where the RSNO also stands out is in the quality of its tone and ensemble playing. This became apparent as soon as the conductor’s baton descended and they struck up the opening chord. Glorious! The session lasted an intense three hours, with a short tea break in the middle. We recorded as many takes as there was time for, giving me the luxury of being able to choose my favourite performances to edit together in my studio back in Sussex. And the results exceeded all expectations: the consistency of tone, sensitivity to dynamics, intonation and depth of feeling in the recording were in a class of their own. If interested you can hear excerpts and see a short video of Sail Mhor being recorded at www.nedbigham.com/listen. Or even better you can buy or download the cd from here for iTunes or here for Amazon.

A huge thanks to Gregory, the RSNO players and team, Michael Elliott and to Calum and his team. I hope I get an opportunity to record with them again.

View the new promotional video for Culebra can be viewed above.

Orchestra records medal-winners’ anthem for Glasgow 2014

RSNO version of Flower of Scotland to accompany Scottish Commonwealth Games successes Commonwealth Games Scotland - who select, prepare and manage Scotland’s team for the Commonwealth Games - has commissioned Scotland’s national orchestra to provide recorded instrumental versions of the nation’s unofficial anthem Flower of Scotland, to be played at the Glasgow 2014 medals ceremonies in the event of Scottish success.

Commonwealth Games Scotland - who select, prepare and manage Scotland’s team for the Commonwealth Games - has commissioned Scotland’s national orchestra to provide recorded instrumental versions of the nation’s unofficial anthem Flower of Scotland, to be played at the Glasgow 2014 medals ceremonies in the event of Scottish success.With the blessing and support of former Corries member Ronnie Browne, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Head of Brass and former RSNO musician John Logan spent two weeks arranging Flower of Scotland for large symphony orchestra. With John conducting the recording sessions, held at the RSNO’s current home the Henry Wood Hall in Glasgow’s West End earlier this year, the Orchestra recorded two versions of different length, both featuring pipers from the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland.

With the blessing and support of former Corries member Ronnie Browne, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Head of Brass and former RSNO musician John Logan spent two weeks arranging Flower of Scotland for large symphony orchestra. With John conducting the recording sessions, held at the RSNO’s current home the Henry Wood Hall in Glasgow’s West End earlier this year, the Orchestra recorded two versions of different length, both featuring pipers from the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland. Flower of Scotland was composed by The Corries’ Roy Williamson in 1965 and became one of their most popular songs, both recorded and live. It was subsequently used as the national anthem by the Scotland national rugby team, with the Scottish Football Association following suit, adopting it as its pre-game anthem in the 1990s. Following a vote by the athletes, it replaced Scotland the Brave as Team Scotland’s victory anthem for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, where Scotland won nine gold medals, ten silver medals, and seven bronze, and will be used again for this year’s Games in Glasgow.

Flower of Scotland was composed by The Corries’ Roy Williamson in 1965 and became one of their most popular songs, both recorded and live. It was subsequently used as the national anthem by the Scotland national rugby team, with the Scottish Football Association following suit, adopting it as its pre-game anthem in the 1990s. Following a vote by the athletes, it replaced Scotland the Brave as Team Scotland’s victory anthem for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, where Scotland won nine gold medals, ten silver medals, and seven bronze, and will be used again for this year’s Games in Glasgow.Ronnie Browne from The Corries:

Ronnie Browne from The Corries:

It’s been a great pleasure working with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra on this project and I’m delighted with John Logan’s arrangements. Perhaps now it’s right to consider, with the RSNO recording Flower of Scotland for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, final recognition of its standing as Scotland’s national anthem. It means a great deal to me and I know it would have meant a great deal to my colleague Roy.

Conductor and composer, John Logan:

It is a very special honour to be involved. In Ronnie we have a national legend, and his endorsement and encouragement has been wonderful. I will be watching the Commonwealth Games with anticipation and it will be with heightened pride when Scotland wins a gold medal, knowing that we contributed to the specialness of the occasion.

Chairman of Commonwealth Games Scotland, Michael Cavanagh:

We are absolutely delighted with the new arrangement and recording of Flower of Scotland by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. The playing of our chosen national anthem to mark both individual and team success is such a proud moment and I know that the athletes who find themselves in this position next month will be deeply moved by this version, recorded specially for the team.I would like to thank Ronnie Browne for giving us his blessing to use this nationally acclaimed song as our anthem, and the RSNO for transforming it into a version befitting gold medal success.

To accompany the announcement, the RSNO and Cairn Production have produced a concise documentary charting the history of the success of Flower of Scotland, from its conception to general acceptance as Scotland’s national anthem. (See above).

In 2006 the RSNO ran an online poll asking what the people of Scotland would prefer as their official national anthem. Flower of Scotland was the clear winner, with over 40% of the votes cast.

Later this month the RSNO will also release a new recording with Scottish singer/songwriter Dougie MacLean. On the Linn label, Till Tomorrow features some of Dougie’s most cherished songs, most of which have been orchestrated by John Logan, including another of Scotland’s alternative anthems, Caledonia.

Further Commonwealth Games cultural events featuring the RSNO include today’s 2014 Commonwealth Games Gala Concert with pianist Stephen Hough and Edinburgh Royal Choral Union at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall, to celebrate the arrival of the Queen’s Baton Relay to Scotland; an outdoor art event featuring a soundtrack including the RSNO, by Turner Prize nominee Phil Collins entitled Tomorrow Is Always Too Long, at Glasgow’s Queens Park on Saturday 19 July; Classics Marathon Day on Saturday 26 July at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, with a RSNO and BBC SSO combined orchestra featuring soloist Nicola Benedetti; and two performances at Glasgow Green on Tuesday 29 July, details of which will be announced shortly.

The XX Commonwealth Games starts on Wednesday 23 July 2014 and runs until Sunday 3 August. For more information visit www.Glasgow2014.com and to follow the progress of Team Scotland visit www.goscotland.org.

Young Scots assume control of Scotland’s national orchestra

Two-day work experience programme for Scottish school pupils at the RSNO

For the first time, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra will be taken over by forty teenagers, for a two-day work experience initiative, where the pupils will plan, promote and present an orchestral concert.

The forty young people, between sixteen and eighteen years old, originate from across Scotland, representing twenty local authorities spanning 220 miles. Many of the young recruits have joined the RSNO’s Young Ambassador programme, which has been designed to develop interest in live orchestral music through school-aged advocates across the country. They will join staff and musicians at the Orchestra’s base in Glasgow and will be assigned to each department of the organisation – from marketing and development to artistic planning, conducting and playing in the Orchestra. A number of the young people will learn practical workshop delivery skills which they’ll then use to lead music workshops with primary aged pupils of Glasgow Gaelic School. The two-day programme will culminate in a performance with the RSNO at the end of the second day, which will be open to family and friends.

RSNO Director of Learning and Engagement Jenn Minchin:

This will be the first time we have opened our doors to an influx of youth in this way, giving them the chance to run one of Scotland’s busiest performing arts organisations. It will provide valuable experience to those seeking to pursue employment in the arts, and is intended to be challenging, stimulating and fun. You never know - we may very well have a future RSNO conductor or Chief Executive among our group.

Last month the RSNO launched its programmes for schools, RSNO Engage for Schools, one of the most comprehensive and far-reaching initiatives of its kind. Headlining the initiative, the RSNO launched a national composition competition, in partnership with the National Trust for Scotland, open to 12- to 18-year-olds across the country. Notes From Scotland invites young composers to write a two-minute work for an instrumental trio, quartet or quintet. The theme for the first year’s Notes From Scotland is inspired by five National Trust locations around the country.

RSNO Engage, announced last year, has led to a five-fold increase in the number of people enjoying music with Scotland’s national orchestra outside of its Season performances. A notable success story is the RSNO’s Young Ambassadors scheme, which invites young people aged sixteen to eighteen to help promote the live orchestral experience in their area. There is now at least one RSNO Young Ambassador for every local authority in Scotland, and the attendance of audience members under twenty-six years old has risen to 15% across Scotland and nearly 20% in Glasgow as a result.

For more information on RSNO Engage, contact the RSNO Engage Team on 0141 225 3574, email: engage@rsno.org.uk, or visit http://www.rsno.org.uk/engage.

Nationwide music programme for schools launched

RSNO Engage for Schools most ambitious Scotland-wide orchestral music initiative to date

From May, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) will provide the most comprehensive orchestra-led music access programme to primary and secondary schools across Scotland. In terms of scale and choice, RSNO Engage for Schools is the first of its kind in the UK, as education establishments can pick and choose the level of music education provision they require from over thirty options.

From May, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) will provide the most comprehensive orchestra-led music access programme to primary and secondary schools across Scotland. In terms of scale and choice, RSNO Engage for Schools is the first of its kind in the UK, as education establishments can pick and choose the level of music education provision they require from over thirty options.

Headlining the new initiative, the RSNO launches a national composition competition, in partnership with the National Trust for Scotland, open to 12- to 18-year-olds across the country. Notes From Scotland invites young composers to write a two-minute work for an instrumental trio, quartet or quintet. The theme for the first year’s Notes From Scotland is inspired by five National Trust locations around the country.

BAFTA, GRAMMY and Ivor Novello award-winning composer Craig Armstrong OBE, famed for his soundtracks to blockbusters such as Moulin Rouge!, Love Actually and The Great Gatsby, welcomed the move:

This is a fantastic idea to engage young people in composition and to bring them together with existing composers and musicians to pass on their knowledge and skills. I’m sure it will be an invaluable experience for all concerned.

RSNO Engage for Schools comprises four distinct sections; RSNO PLAY – performance-based workshops, RSNO CREATE – composition workshops, RSNO LISTEN – exploring musical concepts and appreciation, and RSNO WATCH – educational performances. Among the many available activities and workshops are conducting lessons, improvisation for beginners, samba workshops, instrumental coaching, digital composition sessions, an Instrument Petting Zoo (where children can play with orchestral instruments for the first time), and, from January 2015, a cross-Atlantic collaboration with US orchestras examining the music of American composers.
Last June the RSNO published the first ever careers booklet created by an orchestra, providing information on available courses and further education opportunities as well as case studies and insights into the workings of a modern professional symphony orchestra. The booklet is available from rsno.org.uk/engage. Now the Orchestra will be providing work experience opportunities to fifty young people each year, where pupils will assume control of Scotland’s national orchestra over a two-day period, with a view to planning, producing and performing their own concert at the end of the placement.

RSNO Engage for Schools is devised to be fully integrated into the goals of the national Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), offering increased music education and learning provisions through new concerts for every level of CfE from age 3 to 18 years. It is intended that, in its first year, over fifty thousand young people in Scotland will benefit from engaging with some form of RSNO Engage activity.

RSNO Engage for Schools is part of the RSNO Engage initiative, announced last year, which has led to a five-fold increase in the number of people enjoying music with Scotland’s national orchestra outside of its Season performances. A notable success story is the RSNO’s Young Ambassadors scheme, which invites young people aged 16 to 18 to help promote the live orchestral experience in their area. There is now at least one RSNO Young Ambassador for every local authority in Scotland, and the attendance of audience members under 26 years old has risen to 15% across Scotland and nearly 20% in Glasgow as a result.

RSNO Director of Learning and Engagement Jenn Minchin:

We’re very excited to be unveiling our new programme, RSNO Engage for Schools. Its development is geared towards providing the most valuable experience in terms of musical enjoyment and understanding, and provides a seamless integration with schools curriculum requirements at all levels. What’s more, it is available to every school across the country, and those who choose to engage with Scotland’s national orchestra can do so at the level of their choice. It promises to be the most ambitious learning and engagement drive of any performing arts organisation in the UK, and we are very much looking forward to sharing our love of music with many new enthusiasts.

For more information on RSNO Engage for Schools, contact the RSNO Engage Team on 0141 225 3574, email: engage@rsno.org.uk, or visit rsno.org.uk/engage.

14:15 Season a momentous orchestral year for the RSNO

  • Scotland’s national orchestra moves to its new premises in the Year of Homecoming
  • Peter Oundjian and Thomas Søndergård’s third year as Music Director and Principal Guest Conductor
  • A selection of Scottish guest artists and RSNO musicians as soloists
  • Major new commission from Sally Beamish featuring Orchestra and Chorus
  • Scandinavian celebration – Nielsen and Sibelius anniversaries
  • Expansion of Film, Folk and Festive themed programmes
  • Classic FM Hall of Fame concert with John Suchet

The 2014:15 orchestral year will be one of momentous change for Scotland’s national orchestra, as the RSNO prepares to move into its new home – currently under construction adjacent to the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall - and will take this opportunity to reinforce its objective as being Scotland’s greatest resource for discovering, learning, engaging and enjoying orchestral music.

The new Season starts in September and presents over sixty performances across ten Scottish venues. In the opening months of the Season, the RSNO will be celebrating Scotland’s Year of Homecoming, with appearances from its own talented soloists and the very best of Scotland’s international guest artists, a major new Scottish commission to commemorate the start of the First World War, and programming with Scottish influences, complementing English, Scandinavian, Russian, European and American repertoire.

Before the new Season commences, the RSNO will be participating in the cultural events linked to the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, details of which will be announced shortly.

The RSNO also looks forward to announcing its programme of events to formally open its new residence, expected to be made following the conclusion of the current orchestral Season.

RSNO Music Director Peter Oundjian:

It is an honour for me to be a part of an organisation which, through the delivery of our new rehearsal and recording facility, will have so many opportunities to fulfil its aspirations of connecting with a growing audience.

For us and our supporters this year will be remembered as the starting point of a new, successful chapter in the history of Scotland’s national orchestra, and I can think of no better way of marking this watershed moment than by performing some of most powerful music in the orchestral repertoire.

RSNO Chief Executive Michael Elliott:

It was during the first Year of Homecoming in 2009 that we made the initial steps towards planning our move to new premises, and now, in the second Year of Homecoming, we are on the cusp of realising that ambition.

The move into our new home will herald the point where Scotland’s national orchestra is poised to build upon its remarkable achievements in recent years, to make another step-change in its contribution to Scotland and its cultural life.

The forthcoming Season holds musical delights for all our different audiences and, combined with our learning and engagement programmes across Scotland; it builds upon our commitment to excellence and extending reach.

2014:15 Season Events

This year the RSNO promotes its own musicians, welcomes returning and new guest artists of outstanding calibre, expands on its popular programming which proved so successful last year, features new works such as a major new commission for Orchestra and Chorus by Scottish composer Sally Beamish, and concludes with Elgar’s masterpiece The Dream of Gerontius.

Peter Oundjian

A statement of intent can be drawn from the programming of the opening two concerts of the Season. Employing the talents of the RSNO’s pool of musicians, Peter Oundjian is joined at the front of the stage in the opening week by the Orchestra’s own Principal Flute Katherine Bryan for the Scottish première of Christopher Rouse’s Flute Concerto, a programme also featuring Wagner’s Overture to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. The following week Principal Cello Aleksei Kiseliov steps to the fore, to perform Elgar’s Cello Concerto, sharing the evening with Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro Overture and Bruckner’s Symphony No7.

Nicola Benedetti MBE returns for her first performances of Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No1 with the RSNO. Peter Oundjian and the Orchestra open with Respighi’s orchestration of Rachmaninov’s March from Cinq Études-tableaux, concluding with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No4.

Peter and the Orchestra’s final performances in November include Stravinsky’s The Firebird Suite (1919), Respighi’s Pines of Rome, Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro for Strings and, joined by recent Gramophone Award-winning artist, Scottish pianist Steven Osborne, Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major.

Peter promised further investigation into the works of 20th century American composers, following the success of his previous performances of the repertoire. For the Sir Alexander Gibson Memorial Concert, a state-side selection, including John Adam’s Tromba Lontana, Bernstein’s violin concerto Serenade after Plato’sSymposium with Grammy-nominated soloist Robert McDuffie, Barber’s Symphony No1 and Gershwin’s An American in Paris.

The Music Director returns in May for the final two programmes of the 2014:15 Season. In the penultimate concert, Berlioz’s Le carnaval romain precedes Lalo’s most famous work, for solo violin and orchestra, Symphonie espagnole, with Ray Chen, and Brahms’ Symphony No2. To conclude the Season, Elgar’s proudest achievement, The Dream of Gerontius, with mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly, tenor Toby Spence, bass Alan Opie and the RSNO Chorus.

Thomas Søndergård

RSNO Principal Guest Conductor Thomas Søndergård continues to convey his love of rich, complex works, his first concerts of the new Season featuring Richard Strauss’Metamorphosen and Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra. However, for his second set of concerts audiences will have a hitherto unvisited opportunity to hear his interpretation of more familiar concert repertoire; Sibelius’ Symphony No6 and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No6 Pathétique. The twist is Magnus Lindberg’s 2002 Clarinet Concerto, performed by the soloist for this work, Kari Kriikku.

For his final appearance of the 2014:15 Season, Thomas is joined by Canadian violinist James Ehnes for Nielsen’s Violin Concerto, a programme accompanied by Sibelius’ Karelia Suite and Beethoven’s Symphony No3 Eroica.

Neeme Järvi

The Orchestra’s Conductor Laureate Neeme Järvi is fondly known for his world-renowned RSNO recordings of Russian repertoire. This Season he returns to Shostakovich’s Symphony No5, Rimsky-Korsakov’sCapriccio espagnole, and, joined by International Classical Award’s 2012 Artist of the Year Jean-Efflam Bavouzet - who wowed RSNO audiences and critics in 2013 - Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No3.

Jean-Claude Picard

RSNO Assistant Conductor Jean-Claude Picard made his European début last year with an operatic Valentine’s offering, and this coming February he returns to the podium to conduct a Latin flavoured romantic music selection, with works from De Falla, Chabrier, Rodrigo, Bizet, Morricone and John Barry.

Guest Artists

Scottish Conductor Rory Macdonald makes his RSNO début in November for Remembrance Sunday weekend. Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture and Elgar’s Enigma Variations frame works by two Scottish composers. Cecil Coles’ Behind the Lines is a portrait painted by a young composer who died on the Western Front during the First World War, complemented in the programme by a substantial new work for Orchestra and Chorus by Sally Beamish, Equal Voices, a joint commission with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Paul Daniel leads the RSNO for the first concerts of December, in an all-Russian menu of Prokofiev (Russian Overture), Shostakovich (Piano Concerto No2 with RSNO debutante Kirill Gerstein) and Rachmaninov (Symphony No2).

Christoph Altstaedt made his début with the Orchestra in 2012, and caused such a sensation he was immediately invited back. Here he presents an evening of Schumann (Overture, Scherzo and Finale; Symphony No1 Spring) and Lizst (Piano Concerto No2) with Khatia Buniatishvili as soloist.

Haydn’s Symphony No49 La passione and Beethoven’s Symphony No6 Pastoral in the hands of Sir Roger Norrington promises to be a thought-provoking occasion. Lars Vogt features as soloist for Mozart’s Piano Concerto No27.

Finnish maestro John Storgårds makes his first appearances with the RSNO in May, with a triptych of Scandinavian treasures, Sibelius’ Nightride and Sunrise, Nielsen’s Symphony No4 The Inextinguishable, and Grieg’s Piano Concerto with soloist Christian Ihle Hadland.

The Orchestra’s relationship with Sir Andrew Davis is further cemented through his arrival, in May, to lead the musicians, performing works from three of the conductor’s most beloved composers; Delius’ A Song Before Sunrise and Berg’s Seven Early Songs, featuring soprano Erin Wall, precede Mahler’s Symphony No4.

Film, Folk and Festive

Over the last year, the RSNO has devoted more stage-time to popular programmes. Recently, its The Music of John Williams concert in Glasgow, which sold out months in advance, welcomed nearly 2000 new attenders to the Orchestra. This coming year the RSNO will continue to meet the clear appetite for experiencing live, well-known orchestral music.

Folk duo Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain return in November for St Andrew’s Party, which has become a firm favourite with traditional music-loving audiences. Expect guest appearances from big names, a night of jigs and reels, and, as Phil himself describes, “An intimate club night for 2,500 people…”

Hollywood Christmas, featuring the return of Hollywood conductor Richard Kaufman, the RSNO Chorus and Junior Chorus, explores the festive music of the silver screen.

The RSNO Christmas Concerts are now embedded as a traditional marking of the Scottish festive season. Christopher Bell conducts the Orchestra for the occasion, with seasonal fayre and the screening of Raymond Briggs’ classic animation, The Snowman, with Scottish actor Julie Wilson Nimmo as this year’s narrator.

Exponent of historical performance, British conductor Laurence Cummings returns to conduct Handel’s Messiah following last year's performance with Jonathan Cohen which was, for one music critic, the best Messiah they had ever heard.

Classic FM presenter and Beethovian John Suchet joins Peter Oundjian and the RSNO for an evening dedicated to his favourite composer. Egmont Overture and Symphony No5 as well as his Third Piano Concerto, performed by the as yet to be determined winner of the 2014 Scottish International Piano Competition.

The 2013:14 Season’s presentations of film music were very well received and for 2014:15 the Orchestra will extend its offering. The Music of John Williams returns in March with an additional concert in Edinburgh. Richard Kaufman will also return in April to conduct The Golden Age of Film Music, including music from Spartacus, North by Northwest, The Magnificent Seven and Gone With The Wind.

As the official orchestra for Children’s Classic Concerts in the Central Belt, the RSNO performs two programmes in the coming year; Halloween themed The Monsters’ Ball in November and Seasonal family fayre Deck The Halls With Owen and Olly.

Chamber and New Music

Later this year there will be a detailed announcement on the developments of the Chamber Concert series, which will benefit from using the RSNO’s new home as its Glasgow venue for the first time. There will also be the launch of a programme from a new New Music ensemble.

RSNO Partnerships

The RSNO is supported by the Scottish Government and local authorities in Scotland.

The RSNO is committed to developing creative, dynamic, long-term partnerships with Scotland's corporate sector. The organisation continues to strengthen its reputation for delivering rewarding programmes for its corporate partners, helping to build profile, serve local communities, reward staff and generate exciting stories.

Scotland’s national orchestra is delighted to welcome Brewin Dolphin as a new partner and headline sponsor of Brewin Dolphin presents Music at the Museum, the RSNO’s annual performance at Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum.
The RSNO's partnership with TOTAL E&P UK Limited is now in its eleventh year, testimony to the mutual benefits derived from the alliance. Since the departure of former RSNO Music Director Stéphane Denève and the conclusion of the TOTAL Denève series, the partnership has evolved to support community projects in the North-East of Scotland, focusing on the RSNO’s Astar CD for new born babies and its associated early years programme for children and families.

The Orchestra's partnership with ScotRail, the RSNO's Official Transport Provider, continues to provide vital transport for RSNO musicians and staff across Scotland, promote sustainable travel to a wide audience, and opens doors for ScotRail staff to experience live classical music with their national orchestra.

The RSNO's successful partnership with The Miller Group enters its fourth year with the development of its pioneering programme of musical activities, working with Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS) and children and families in Rachel House children's hospice in Fife. With the support of The Miller Group we are delighted to announce the expansion of the programme to include Robin House Hospice in Balloch. The partnership was commended in the community category of the Arts & Business Scotland Awards 2013.

The RSNO welcomes the fifth year of the Orchestra's association with La Bonne Auberge, a partnership which supports Children's Classic Concerts.
We are delighted to continue working in partnership with The Courier in Dundee and the P&J in Aberdeen and the North. The Courier is also headline sponsors of Oundjan and Benedetti in Dundee.

The RSNO will also continue its successful relationship with Capital Document Solutions, a partnership now in its sixth year, which presents creative marketing opportunities for both partners.

The RSNO would like to thank all of its sponsors, corporate donors, corporate partners and media partners who make a crucial contribution to the work of the Orchestra: TOTAL E&P UK Limited, Brewin Dolphin, Capital Solutions, The Weir Group, La Bonne Auberge, The Courier, The Miller Group, Cameron House on Loch Lomond, Gallagher Heath, Italian Institute Edinburgh, Prestonfield House Edinburgh, Valvona & Crolla, Glasgow Airport, ScotRail, Loganair, Park’s Motor Group, Douglas Park BMW, Classic FM, BBC Radio 3, First Rule Investment Consultancy Ltd, Smart Graphics, Scots Magazine, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, The Franco-Scottish Business Club, The Scottish Council for Development & Industry.

Subscription booking for the RSNO 2014:15 Seasons in Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow opens on Wednesday 26 March, 2014. Single tickets are on sale from Tuesday 13 May, although RSNO Circle members can priority book from Monday 5 May 2014.

For more information on the RSNO, including how to book tickets, go to www.rsno.org.uk. You can keep up-to-date with the Orchestra’s movements on Twitter (@rsno) and on Facebook.

HUP! Scotland’s classical concerts for newborns

RSNO premières playful introduction to orchestral music for 0-24 months in Aberdeen

For the first time, interactive, participative performances for newborns to two-year-olds will be presented by Scotland’s national orchestra, in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, from Monday 24 March.

A trio of musicians and a drama artist will create an enchanting live music experience for the very young and their grownups. The performances are entitled Hup!, one of the most popular first spoken words for babies, when they want picked up. The young audience members will discover two violins, one cello, one raccoon, a very important tree and someone with a story to share. The relaxed thirty-minute performance is followed by the chance for the young audience to stay and play.

Hup!, devised by Hazel Darwin-Edwards & Abigail Sinar and supported by TOTAL E&P UK Limited and Vibrant Aberdeen, is one outcome of Nickum (Doric for little scamp), a partnership project between Starcatchers, an organisation that specialises in performances and creativity for babies, toddlers and young children, and the RSNO. Nickum’s strategy is to provide a range of RSNO-led community activities in the north-east of Scotland for young people and their families.

The performances for the very young are connected to the distribution of the Astar CD, a free orchestral recording for all babies born in Scotland since October 2012, available through Scottish registry offices. The RSNO hopes to roll out the concept to other areas of Scotland over the next eighteen months.

RSNO Director of Learning and Engagement Jenn Minchin:

Our first foray into presenting performances for the youngest of audiences will be especially rewarding, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing the reaction of our small critics over the next week. It’s an important step for the RSNO, as this completes our portfolio of resources and performances for people of all ages, and is a natural progression from the distribution of the Astar CD, which started in October 2012, and, I’m glad to say, will be continued for a further year.

For more information on Hup! or any of the RSNO Engage activities go to www.rsno.org.uk or call 0141 225 3574.

Big ambitions for RSNO’s Big Highland Residency

Scotland’s national orchestra collaborates with communities in the north of Scotland and presents a springtime celebration of music-making, from 31 March to 5 April.

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) will connect with the music-loving communities of Inverness and surrounding area for The Big Residency, a week-long celebration featuring cross-community performances, workshops, interactive sessions, concluding with a full symphonic concert, from Monday 31 March to Saturday 5 April.

Since the launch of the RSNO’s umbrella programme RSNO Engage last year the Orchestra has broadened the scope of its Learning and Engagement remit and is committed to developing longer-term relationships with communities across Scotland. Behind the scenes, RSNO musicians have, since September 2013, been working with young musicians from Inverness-shire, Wick, Thurso, Skye and Aberdeenshire, preparing them for forthcoming performances with Highland Regional Youth Orchestra, Highland Youth String Orchestra and Highland Schools Wind Band. In addition, over the last eight months RSNO players have been in residency in the Highlands offering open masterclasses for wind and string musicians aged 16 to 18.

In association with Eden Court Theatre, Highland Council and supported by the Press and Journal and Highlife Highland, The Big Residency will be showcasing the ongoing work in a series of composition workshops, tailor-made performances for young people, cross-genre performances and a full symphonic concert.

The start of the week features RSNO on the Road, RSNO musicians including RSNO Principal Trombone Dávur Juul Magnussen, will be visiting schools across the area to lead a series of workshops from improvisation.

The critically-acclaimed Teddy Bears’ Picnic, performances for 3-5 year-olds, comes to Inverness for the first time, on Wednesday 2 April at Eden Court Theatre (10.00am and 11.30am). These story-led informal performances encourage participation from young concert attenders and their families. Receiving a five-star review for a similarly themed performance in 2013, the Herald described it as, “…a new concept, with a fresh and seamless presentation.” Wednesday also features performances for early school-years children and their families, Steve and His Seriously Tall Ladder, at the Eden Court Theatre (1.30pm, 4.00pm).

Boys United is a brand new initiative for the north of Scotland. In 2006 Director of the RSNO Junior Chorus Christopher Bell started a vocal ensemble for boys whose voices were changing. Changed Voices helps guide members - boys aged 13-18 - through that process of change. A programme inspired by the success of Changed Voices, Inverness will play host to Boys United, for the benefit of young male singers seeking to develop their ability before their voices change. With Christopher Bell visiting participating schools for preparatory sessions in the preceding weeks, the Empire Theatre at Eden Court will be filled with boys from P6 to S1 on Thursday 3 April, for a day of practical exercises and informal performances.

Christopher Bell, Director, RSNO Junior Chorus:

I''m delighted to be able to come to Inverness and work with the young singers, helping to set them on the path to finding their voices. We have some great songs which will really enthuse our ensemble.

Over the past four months, RSNO musicians have been collaborating with performers from Eden Court Community Dance Company and from Cashback for Creativity, developing a new performance. RSNO Remix will receive its première on Friday 4 April (6.00pm) at the Eden Court Theatre. It will incorporate remixed classical music - in this case Praeludium from Grieg’s Holberg Suite - digital animation and contemporary dance, creating a show that blends reworked music with two alternative but complementary art-forms, revealing ways in which traditional works can be placed in a modern context.

On Friday 4 April the RSNO presents Vaughan Williams’ Fifth, a full symphonic concert at Eden Court Theatre, featuring Vaughan Williams’ serene Fifth Symphony alongside Berlioz’ Helios Overture and Stravinsky’s ballet music Pulcinella, with conductor Jean-Claude Picard, whom the media recently described as “…clearly a man with a strong sense of fluidity, dynamism and style.” Contact the Eden Court Theatre website (www.eden-court.co.uk) or phone the Box Office on 01463 234234.

RSNO Assistant Conductor Jean-Claude Picard:

I was excited when I was offered the chance to conduct the RSNO for a concert as part of the Big Residency week. We have a great programme for you, featuring the Orchestra in all its splendour. I’m very much looking forward to sharing this music, in this excellent venue of yours that is Eden Court.

Musicians and singers from the local area are invited to join the RSNO on Saturday 5 April for RSNO Collaborate, a day of coaching and guidance, culminating in an informal performance at Eden Court, to which friends and family are invited to come and see participants play and sing side-by-side with the RSNO. Workshops are from 10.00am until 5.00pm, with the final performance at 6.00pm. It is recommended that musicians be of Grade 4 standard or above. Singers can be of any ability but some experience is preferred as sheet music will be used for some of the pieces. Repertoire for the day will be a mix of classical, traditional and popular songs and will include: Vivaldi’s Gloria, Scottish traditional songs: Johnnie Cope and Will Ye No Come Back Again, and Sing by Gary Barlow and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Further afield, the members of the RSNO Big Band will be performing in Kingussie, at the Badenoch Centre, on Saturday 5 April, from 1.00pm, providing suitable accompaniment for the RSNO Tea Dance. Also on Saturday, but back in Inverness, the RSNO Baroque Ensemble will be performing Baroque Fireworks, at Inverness Town House at 1.00pm.

RSNO Director of Learning and Engagement Jenn Minchin:

A power of work has already been undertaken over the past ten months, with our musicians becoming an ever-increasing part of the musical community of the Highland region. The Big Residency week serves as an opportunity to showcase our work so far, as we fully intend to continue our relationships with the new connections we have made in the north of Scotland. On behalf of all participants I look forward to welcoming you to our public events from the 31st March.

To find out more about The Big Highland Residency please visit www.rsno.org.uk or contact the RSNO Engage Team on 0141 225 3574; bigresidency@rsno.org.uk.

RSNO Chorus Director to leave at end of Season

Timothy Dean will direct the Chorus until the end of the 2013:14 Season, concluding his tenure with performances of Mahler’s Symphony No8

Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) Chorus Director Timothy Dean will leave his post at the end of the current Season, concluding his tenure with performances of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony in Edinburgh and Glasgow and joining an RSNO Chorus trip to Prague in June.

Timothy was appointed to the position of Chorus Director in November 2006 and, over his eight years at the helm of Scotland’s national orchestra’s Chorus, has worked in partnership with former Music Director Stéphane Denève and current Music Director Peter Oundjian to present some memorable programmes, including performances of Magnus Lindberg’s Graffiti in 2010, John Adams’ On the Transmigration of Souls in 2011, Britten’s War Requiem on the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth, and prepared the Chorus for what one music critic thought was the best performance of Handel’s Messiah they had ever heard, earlier this year.

Timothy, also currently Head of Opera at the Royal Conservatoire Scotland (RCS), has recently taken over the responsibility for the Leverhulme Conducting Fellows, a new development for the RCS. Over the last twelve months he has been increasingly in demand abroad, working on projects in New Zealand, Hong Kong and Nuremberg. In the future Timothy plans to work abroad more, as well as devoting more time to pursuing his own creative projects and performing career.

RSNO Chorus Director Timothy Dean:

It has been a privilege to be part of the RSNO family for the last eight years, and to have been able to contribute to a number of truly memorable performances. I will miss working regularly with the RSNO Chorus – their commitment, their sense of fun, their sound and, above all, their Glaswegian warmth and spirit. However, it is the right time for me to move on and I wish them continued success in their new home.

RSNO Music Director Peter Oundjian:

Tim is a joy to work with and I have valued his musicality, knowledge and experience. He is capable of getting the best out of our accomplished Chorus and we shall all miss him. Our final project together, Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, promises to be exceptionally poignant.

Chief Executive of the RSNO, Michael Elliott:

I’m grateful to Tim for all he has achieved with the RSNO Chorus and I have to thank him for agreeing to stay with us until the end of the current Season. He should be proud of his accomplishments during his eight-year tenure as Chorus Director, and he leaves a legacy of a highly professional body of singers. All of us at the RSNO wish him every success for the future.

The RSNO will commence its search for a successor shortly, aiming to make an appointment before the move into its new home later this year.

Young ambassadors root for live orchestral music

RSNO recruits young people nationwide to promote the live orchestral experience

Sixteen to eighteen year olds across Scotland are being recruited by Scotland’s national orchestra to promote live orchestral music to their peers, as part of a new initiative to increase youth attendance of classical music concerts.

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra announced its ambition to connect with School pupils nationwide earlier this year, when it launched its RSNO Engage programme of performances, workshops and community activities. It has now appointed over twenty Young Ambassadors to its programme, covering nearly every local authority in the country, from Highland to Argyll and Bute.

Young Ambassadors will be able to attend RSNO concerts for free and will get to know the musicians, artistic team and staff. They will be assigned a mentor who will assist with career development and will have input in the Orchestra’s future plans to engage with young people across the country. This will be open to all young people aged sixteen to eighteen with a passion for music, regardless of whether they are learning an instrument.
The Young Ambassadors will be expected to attend RSNO concerts in their area, promote RSNO activities online, create a classical music board in their school or community to highlight opportunities for young people to be involved, and attend five forums across Scotland, to discuss ways in which the RSNO can improve engagement. In return, the Young Ambassadors will receive free tickets for RSNO concerts, career development advice, be assigned a mentor from a department within the RSNO, and will be given the opportunity to influence the RSNO’s strategy.

New RSNO Young Ambassador Susannah Mack, from the Highlands:

I’m delighted to be working with young people across the country to promote classical music, giving me a chance to show off the musical talent in the Highlands at the same time. I’ve already had incredible new experiences (for example interviewing Nicola Benedetti!) and I’m really looking forward to the exciting plans to come.

Seona Glenn, from Stirling:

The world of classical music is so enriching and enjoyable to me that I want shout it from the rooftops! Young Ambassadors allows me to share my great passion for music with others of my age, and encourage them to enjoy its diversity, and engage.

Thea Sands, from Renfrewshire:

I’m excited by the prospect of change and the opportunity I've been given to work amongst people with similar passions. It’s wonderful to use my love of orchestral music to help others explore the form. I hope to aid the integration of this musical form into youth culture for the future.

RSNO Director of Learning and Engagement Jenn Minchin:

We have been surprised and delighted at the response to our appeal for the Young Ambassador scheme. Every participant will be able to contribute to the success of Scotland’s national orchestra with their own unique set of skills and contacts. We look forward to recruiting many more Ambassadors for live orchestral music in the future.

The RSNO is keen to hear from any sixteen to eighteen year olds who might be interested in becoming a Young Ambassador. For more information go to http://www.rsno.org.uk/youth/ambassadors.php