Composers’ Hub work selected for Season premiere

RSNO Composers' Hub member Daniel Kidane

RSNO’s second composer nurturing initiative yields new piece to be premiered in November

An emerging British composer has won the chance to have one of their latest works premiered by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO).

Five UK composers were selected to benefit from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s RSNO Composers’ Hub - the second annual initiative to develop the talents of individuals in the early stages of their careers – and were subsequently asked to compose a short work for Orchestra about the subject of conflict. One work, by Guildhall School of Music and Drama doctoral student Daniel Kidane, has been chosen to receive its first public performances, at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh and the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall this November, a programme presented in partnership with Poppy Scotland.

Named after the Bantu ethnic group of Southern Africa, Zulu brings to life the formidable fighting spirit of the Zulu people. Clannish regiments, known as Impi, marked their bravery and militaristic prowess in battles with invaders such as the Boer Commando and the British Empire. The vigorous nature of the piece, characterised by ever-present percussion and an unwavering drive, reflects the essence of the Zulu people.

When asked to write a piece reflecting on the idea of war, Daniel wanted to highlight an epoch in world history where colonialism was rife. The European colonial conquest period was the era from the 16th century to the mid-20th century, when several European powers established colonies in Asia, Africa and the Americas. It is hard to measure the complete damage that the practice of acquiring political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically for the mother country, had on these regions – no doubt the repercussions are still being felt today.

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 Composers’ Hub participant Daniel Kidane: “I’m very much looking forward to further collaborating with the RSNO and hearing my piece Zulu come to life in their 2017:18 Season. It was an absolute pleasure to work with Conductor Holly Mathieson and the energetic RSNO, who did a grand job of work-shopping five excitingly unique new pieces. Such opportunities are vital for younger composers and I'm glad that the RSNO are in their second year of this wonderful scheme.”

RSNO Executive Producer Manus Carey: “Our five composers have produced an awe-inspiring selection of works and it was a difficult decision to select one, though I’m delighted that Daniel’s composition will be performed by the Orchestra in November at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh and the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. My thanks go to all participants and RSNO Assistant Conductor Holly Mathieson who has provided such valuable support to the Composers’ Hub.”

To apply for RSNO Composers’ Hub, applicants were invited to submit a CV, 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.

The RSNO is supporting new music with the performances of newly-commissioned and co-commissioned works including those by former Composers' Hub composer Jay Capperauld, as well as newly written works by Oliver Searle, Sally Beamish, Martin Suckling and Gerald Barry. The Season will also feature performances of other contemporary works written in recent years. For more information on RSNO concerts and events, visit

Chan makes triumphant return

Conductor Elim Chan returns to the RSNO two weeks after her début

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) welcomes Hong Kong-born Elim Chan to conduct a second programme with the Orchestra, two weeks after making her Scottish début.

Elim, the first female winner of the London Symphony Orchestra’s Donatella Flick Conducting Competition and current Dudamel Fellow at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, returns to Scotland to replace RSNO Conductor Laureate Neeme Järvi, who has had to withdraw for personal reasons.

Elim will be joined by Argentinian pianist Ingrid Fliter, who recently toured with the RSNO to Spain, and who will perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No2. There is an alteration to the remaining programme, with Rachmaninov’s Symphony No2 replacing Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Symphony and Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture in place of the composer’s Hamlet Fantasy Overture.

Elim made her Scottish début with the RSNO last week to audiences in Kirkcaldy and Musselburgh, conducting Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture and Symphony No4 Italian as well as Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin and accompanying RSNO Principal Bass Ana Cordova as soloist in former Scottish Orchestra Principal Conductor Serge Koussevitzsky’s Concerto for Double Bass.

Conductor Elim Chan: “I am extremely honoured and delighted to be able to return to the wonderful RSNO very soon for a beautiful programme with some of my favourite music. It was such a joy making and sharing music with the RSNO musicians last week; at the end of the concerts I had one of those rare moments feeling, “It's over? But I want more!”, so I am thrilled about this second visit, and that we are going to make more music together!”

RSNO Chief Executive Dr Krishna Thiagarajan: “On behalf of the Orchestra I’d like to welcome Elim back to the RSNO for her second set of concerts. At her first sitting with the Orchestra I understand she immediately gelled with the musicians and went on to perform two wonderful concerts with our Principal Bass Ana Cordova as soloist in the Koussevitzsky concerto. I believe the audiences in Edinburgh in Glasgow will be equally delighted to welcome her back to Scotland for her second engagement here.”

Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony features conductor Elim Chan, pianist Ingrid Fliter and the RSNO at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh on Friday 17 February and at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Saturday 18 February. For more information visit

Sibelius Family Grant Permission to RSNO Musicians

Early Piano Quartet to be performed by RSNO Chamber Group will reveal composer’s classical tradition

A Scottish chamber group will perform a 19th century rarity from the predominantly 20th century composer Jean Sibelius this coming Sunday, after permission from the composer’s family was sought before the sheet music was released.

Sibelius and Strauss Piano Quartets at the New Auditorium, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall presents a chamber ensemble assembled from Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) musicians, violinists Sophie Lang and Lorna Rough, cellist Betsy Taylor and pianist Edward Cohen to air a rarely performed early work by Jean Sibelius, his Piano Quartet in D minor.

Unrecognisable when compared to his later, romantic works, the four movement quartet for two violins, cello and piano has been described as an accomplished pastiche of one of Mendelssohn’s Piano Trios. Those familiar with Sibelius’ soundscape may be surprised at the composers’ leaning towards a classical tradition at this time, this work composed when he was eighteen. Many composers had already found their voice by this age but it may surprise those familiar with his later expansive sound world to hear that he started off very much in the more contained, classical tradition.

RSNO Violin Sophie Lang: “We couldn't believe it was Sibelius when we started playing it! It sounds far more like Mozart, though there are glimpses in the harmonies of his later style. It's fascinating to see where he started, and to play off copies of the parts which we think were hand-written by him. They are full of inconsistencies, so rehearsals have been pretty pain-staking as we try and reconstruct what we believe he wanted, but that's actually made us feel closer to the composer. The parts were sent from the National Library of Finland after we had been granted permission to perform the work from the Sibelius family.”

The concert also features a performance of Richard Strauss’ early work, the substantial Piano Quartet in C minor, composed in the same year as Sibelius’ piano quartet, sixty years prior to Metamorphosen and reminiscent of the work of his idol, Johannes Brahms. The quartet will open the programme with a work by contemporary American composer Michael Daugherty, Diamond In the Rough, Daugherty’s nine-minute homage to Mozart.

Sibelius and Strauss Piano Quartets will appear at the New Auditorium, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, on Sunday 5 February (2.30pm). Tickets cost £12.50 and are available from the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall box office (0141 353 8000). You can book online by visiting

Scottish composer fulfils promise to friend with new work

New Flute Concerto for 2017 marks 20-year friendship between composer and soloist

This week Scottish audiences will be treated to the première of a new Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, written by leading Scottish composer Martin Suckling, inspired by the obsessive characteristics of one of the UK’s leading conceptual artists’ work, and borne from a teenage promise to one of the UK’s finest flautists.

Martin, who has been described by the national media as “..probably the most important figure in Scotland’s music scene since James MacMillan.”, dedicates The White Road, a title inspired by ceramicist Edmund de Waal’s 2015 travelogue, to his long-time friend RSNO Principal Flute Katherine Bryan. Martin had promised a concerto to Katherine while they were musicians in the National Youth Orchestra, and Katherine will perform the piece as soloist at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall on Friday 3 February and at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Saturday 4 February.

Composer Martin Suckling: "I've known Katherine since we were teenagers and we've long wanted to work together on a flute concerto.  Katherine's glorious tone and Edmund de Waal's beautifully austere ceramic art were twin inspirations for this piece, in which solo flute melodies lead the orchestra in antiphonal exchange through a landscape of rich, gleaming microtones and strange dances."

Katherine Bryan, who has been described by one of the country’s leading music critics as having “…intellect and comprehensive musical resource, including expressivity, in endless supply…” welcomes the challenge of performing this new work written especially for her.

RSNO Principal Flute Katherine Bryan: "Martin and I have been friends for over twenty years. He knows me very well, and it had always been a hope for both of us that he would one day write something for me. The challenge of bringing any piece to life for the first time is huge, but the fact that it is written by him makes it even more exciting for me. The piece is alluring, stirring, tender, ardent... all in a 15 minute package. I cannot wait to capture people's imaginations with it."

Paired with the new concerto is Katherine’s interpretation of Ralph Vaughan-Williams’ The Lark Ascending, transcribed from violin to flute by Katherine herself. It features on her most recent album The Silver Bow (Linn Records) which was Classic FM’s Album of the Week following its launch last year. Furthermore, Katherine’s version has received full endorsement from the Vaughan Williams Society.

RSNO Principal Flute Katherine Bryan: "Transcribing this beautiful piece was a dream I had had for some time. I'd grown up listening to it and still it melts my heart with its poignancy. I hope that my transcription brings new and interesting sounds and colours to this work which is so well known and loved."

The Lark Ascending, a Sir Alexander Gibson Memorial Concert, was due to be conducted by RSNO Music Director Peter Oundjian but has had to withdraw from the week’s performances for personal reasons.

RSNO Music Director Peter Oundjian: “It is with enormous regret that I cannot be present for the upcoming concerts in Edinburgh and Glasgow. This is a wonderful programme, including an exciting premiere by one of Scotland’s major composing talents and featuring one of our own exceptional soloists. It promises to be a memorable event.”

Norwegian conductor Arild Remmereit returns to the RSNO in his place. The Lark Ascending concludes with Maurice Ravel’s pictorial symphonic vision of ancient Greece, the ballet music Daphnis et Chloé.

For tickets or more information please visit

Rare performances of Double Bass Concerto

RSNO Principal performs Koussevitzsky showpiece for audiences in Musselburgh and Kirkcaldy

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s (RSNO) Principal Bassist Ana Cordova will take centre stage to perform Serge Koussevitzsky’s rarely performed Concerto for Double Bass, to audiences in Musselburgh and Kirkcaldy at the end of this month.

Infrequently utilised as a solo instrument Koussevitzsky wrote this showpiece for the bass to demonstrate his virtuosity when he was a touring bassist, before embarking on one of the world’s most successful conducting careers and becoming a fierce supporter of 20th century music. Koussevitzsky was even conductor of the then Scottish Orchestra, now RSNO, in 1923. He went on to champion and commission works from composers such as Prokofiev, Ravel, Gershwin and many more. Koussevitzsky moved to the USA in 1924 to become conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, a post he held for 25 years, building the BSO’s reputation as one of America’s leading ensembles.

The Concerto for Double Bass is included in a programme that also features two works by German romantic Felix Mendelssohn, Symphony No4 Italian and the Hebrides Overture, written by the composer following a visit to the island of Staffa off the west coast of Scotland. The orchestral version of Maurice Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin opens the programme.

RSNO Principal Bassist Ana Cordova: “The Koussevitzky concerto is a fantastic Russian romantic piece. It is short but very intense, passionate and touching. I am really excited to perform this concerto and have the chance to show to the audience what a double bass can do outside of the orchestra role. I hope everyone will enjoy it as much as I will."

RSNO In Concert presents Hong Kong-born conductor Elim Chan, the first female winner of the Donatella Flick Conducting Competition, making her RSNO debut. RSNO In Concert appears at the Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy on Friday 27 January (Box Office: 01592 583302) and at The Brunton, Musselburgh on Saturday 28 January (Box Office: 0131 665 2240). Both concerts start at 7.30pm. For more information visit

Game of Thrones star tells frosty fable


Scottish actor Daniel Portman narrates Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman for RSNO’s Christmas Concerts

Daniel Portman, famously known for portraying Podrick Payne in the hit HBO fantasy drama Game of Thrones, will make his Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) debut next month, narrating the classic story of Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman, as part of this year’s RSNO Christmas Concerts.

The Glasgow-born actor will be known to many, with Daniel’s film credits including Outcast and The Angel’s Share.  On the small screen he has appeared in Scottish soap opera River City.

The Orchestra takes its popular RSNO Christmas Concerts (sponsored by the RSNO’s Official Transport Provider ScotRail) – now firmly embedded as one of Scotland’s traditional seasonal events – to the Caird Hall, Dundee (Friday 16 December, 7.30pm); the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall (Saturday 17 December, 2.00pm & 6.00pm), and to the Usher Hall, Edinburgh (Sunday 18 December, 3.00pm). Led by conductor Christopher Bell, the Orchestra will perform Howard Blake’s iconic soundtrack synchronised with the screening of the animated film, with vocal soloists for the famous ballad Walking in the Air drawn from the RSNO’s own Junior Chorus. The concerts also feature well-known festive musical favourites, audience participation, the RSNO Chorus or Junior Chorus, and a few surprises.

Daniel Portman: “Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman is a big part of Christmas – it wouldn’t be the same without the classic animation and Howard Blake’s moving score. I’m very much looking forward to my RSNO debut. Narrating the story with the film and full symphonic support is going to be a highlight of my festive season.”

In addition to the RSNO Christmas Concerts the Orchestra will be performing alongside Owen and Olly for two distinct Children’s Classic Concerts’ festive shows, Christmas Countdown on Sunday 4 December (1.00pm & 3.00pm) at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, and Christmas Swingalong with the RSNO Big Band, at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh on Sunday 11 December.

On Monday 2 January 2017 the Orchestra welcomes audiences to a new year at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall for its matinee performance of Handel’s Messiah (3.00pm), with historical performance conductor Laurence Cummings joined onstage by soprano Elizabeth Atherton, counter-tenor Robin Blaze, tenor Joshua Ellicott, bass-baritone Peter Harvey and the RSNO Chorus .

Conductor Ben Gernon and soprano Jennifer France present Viennese Gala at Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline (Friday 6 January, 7.30pm); the Buccleuch Centre, Langholm (Saturday 7 January, 7.30pm); Perth Concert Hall (Sunday 8 January, 3.00pm), Eden Court, Inverness (Tuesday 10 January, 7.30pm) and at Albert Halls, Stirling (Wednesday 11 January, 7.30pm). For more information please go to

Children’s Classic Concerts and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra present individual festive offerings in Glasgow and Edinburgh


Christmas Countdown

Sunday 4th December 2016, 1pm & 3pm, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall


Christmas Swingalong

Sunday 11th December 2016, 3pm, Usher Hall, Edinburgh


Percussionist paragons Owen and Olly are back, with a separate seasonal show for each city. Two distinct programmes, personalities and prop bags – but both packed with festive fun.



Our traditional seasonal concert sees Owen & Olly team up again with the full force of the RSNO, and new Assistant Conductor Holly Mathieson, for a host of festive family favourites - as well as a few unexpected surprises. Adding extra Christmas glamour are guests, the female chamber choir Les Sirènes (winners of Choir of the Year 2012) and dancers from the Manor School of Ballet. Audience members will also be given the final say in the programme, through Strictly Come Carol-ing, an on-the-day vote for their favourite carol – the three presenters will be urging them to rally for Rudoph, joust for Jingle Bells or fight for Frosty, in the run up to the big reveal.



A festive concert that’s a little different to the usual offerings, and crammed with Christmas cool. Owen and Olly will be joined by the RSNO Big Band, a hand-picked selection of the best jazz musicians around.  Featuring high-energy versions of Christmas and movie swing classics, there’ll be plenty of opportunity for audience singing and dancing, with familiar children’s favourites.


“We’re both excited about jazzing things up a bit (pun intended!) with this swingin’ take on a Christmas concert,” says CCC artistic director and presenter, Owen Gunnell.  “It’s going to be brilliant fun to have everyone up and dancing along to Chatanooga Choo Choo, and joining in with Let It Snow. And a great opportunity for kids to hear a superb group of musicians play classics such as the Nutcracker and The Pink Panther Theme.”

Each concert will also feature the dynamic duo showing off the percussion talent their fans know and love them for, with a fast paced and furious demonstrations of their unique skills as the highlight of each show.


“I’m particularly looking forward to wheeling out our large selection of percussion instruments to join in the musical fun,” said Olly Cox. “We’ve even asked the dancers from the Manor School of Ballet to join us at both venues, for an extra touch of festive magic. Just ignore the slightly larger, hairier one, in the back…”
A perfect introduction to classical music for children aged 4 to 12 and their families, our concerts encourage active audience participation and sing-a-longs, with presenters Owen & Olly educating through performance, in a fun and informal atmosphere. Devised and performed by Owen Gunnell and Oliver Cox.


Children’s Classic Concerts’ Christmas Countdown will appear at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Sunday 4 December, 1pm & 3pm; Christmas Swinglaong at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh on Sunday 11 December, 3pm. Tickets are priced from £6 and are available to buy from Glasgow Royal Concert Hall box office (0141 353 8000) or Usher Hall box office (0131 228 1155).            @CCC_LoveMusic                CCCLoveMusic

Supported by Creative Scotland and La Bonne Auberge

Appsolutely revolutionary concerts for primary schools


New interactive app, audience-controlled composition and new work about Sauchiehall Street featured in Scottish Orchestra’s latest concerts for primary school pupils

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s (RSNO) new concerts for primary schools merge a live orchestral music experience with technology and gaming.

Five sold-out performances of RSNO 360 Live, which runs from Tuesday 22 November to Thursday 24 November, feature popular classical works alongside two new commissions from Scottish-based composers, a free interactive app for digital devices and one of the world’s most successful video games ever, Minecraft, being played live on a cinema screen.

Nearly two thousand primary school pupils will attend RSNO 360 Live over three days at the RSNO’s new home in Glasgow, having participated in pre-concert workshops with RSNO musicians visiting the schools in previous months.

The new concerts will feature two commissioned works, Oliver Searle’s Sauchiehall, written to celebrate the Orchestra’s 125th anniversary and its move from Glasgow’s West End to the City Centre, a journey that can be made directly along one of the city’s main thoroughfares, Sauchiehall Street.

In addition to Oliver Searle’s Sauchiehall, Glasgow-based composer Jay Capperauld’s new work Terrarium has been written with a set introduction and coda but with five interchangeable central sections which can be performed in any order, to be determined by the audience at each concert. Terrarium will be performed while the audience explore five distinct worlds on the big screen, through the medium of Minecraft.

The new app, developed by the RSNO Learning and Engagement team and supported by Creative Scotland’s Innovation Fund, which will be utilised as a supplementary training aid, is available on a variety of formats. Taking the poster of the orchestra with its separately-highlighted sections many school music departments displayed on their walls as inspiration, the app, RSNO 360, presents the opportunity to view and listen to the RSNO from any chosen section in the Orchestra. Oliver Searle’s specially-commissioned work Sauchiehall was recorded for RSNO 360 using binaural microphones which mimic human hearing and the resulting recording provides an audio-3D experience when listened through headphones. RSNO 360 will be available on general release from the Apple App Store from Tuesday 22 November.

RSNO Associate Leader and Learning and Engagement Artistic Director William Chandler
, who will be presenting the programmes, said: “We have purposefully designed a concert platform to appeal to what young people love most, technology. By incorporating the most successful video game ever into our presentation we will introduce a new generation to the ultimate live music experience and plant the seeds of a lifelong relationship with the dynamic and colourful world of the symphony orchestra. Never before have we provided this level of interactivity, both in the pre-concert workshops and the performances themselves.”

RSNO 360 Live is generously and vitally supported by Foyle Foundation, The Hugh Fraser Foundation, The McGlashan Charitable Trust, Glasgow City Ward Areas and George and Mary Firth Bequest. RSNO 360 Live starts on Tuesday 22 November and runs until Thursday 24 November at the New Auditorium at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. These performances are all sold out. Further schools performances by the RSNO will be announced in due course. For more information visit