RSNO Young Ambassador 14:15 – Rosie Lavery

Yesterday, on Sat 7 Feb 2015, I went to the RSNO concert A French Feast in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall – and what a feast it was. I had been particularly excited for this concert, as I have a great love of languages, especially French! Taking my seat with the rest of the ambassadors, after our customary meet and greet of the audience, I felt a shiver of excitement as the lights went down and the oboe played it's first tuning note for the rest of the orchestra. In the past couple of years, that lonely 'A' note has become somewhat of a signpost for me of something spectacular to come – especially whilst sitting in the Concert hall.

Once the orchestra had tuned up, and the audience has quietened down, the conductor Gilbert Varga walked onto the stage, smiling and waving, before beginning to welcome the audience to the concert. He then went on to give us some back ground on the first piece – Les Éolides (The Breezes) by César Franck, in which he asked the audience to imagine a light summers breeze gently tapping on our cheeks as the strings began in a delicate surge of sound. It felt quite unusual actually, to have a conductor speak so intimately about a piece to the audience before beginning, but I found it refreshing and very interesting. The rest of the young ambassadors and I had been discussing before the concert about how we could make Classical Music more accessible to people of our age – and one of the ways we all agreed on was giving the music a bit of context. It's all very well to listen to an orchestra playing a piece and afterwards saying "Oh yes, it was lovely" but soon forgetting it. However, what Gilbert Varga did by actually explaining the background of the piece, actually made the piece into an experience. The piece was absolutely exquisite and completely blew away the audience (breeze pun intended...)

After the rapturous applause of the audience died down, there was a slight pause in the programme as the conductor walked off the stage and was replaced by two stage crew carrying what looked like, according to one of the young ambassadors, 'a giant door'. But yet, it soon became clear as the conductor reappeared with a man holding a cello (Daniel Müller-Schott, world renowned cellist, to be more precise) that this 'giant door' was actually an extra stage – the solo cellist had arrived. And so began the second piece, Cello Concerto No.1 by Saint-Saëns. Beginning with a punchy melismatic line from the soloist, the entire audience was submerged in Daniel Müller-Schott's absolute passion for the music, which you could feel as the notes sang from his bow. I think everyone's reaction to the piece, and the night as a whole, was enraptured in the image of a little tiny girl I spotted in the front row with her grandmother, who within three seconds of the cellist beginning to play, turned round to her gran with wide eyes and mouthed "WOW!"

And to sum up, the rest of the concert was just "WOW!". Going from Fauré's absolutely exquisite and "intimately beautiful" piece, according the conductor – which had me and one of the other Ambassadors in tears – to Ravel’s Ma mère l’oye (Mother Goose) which cheered us up immensely, before a rather impromptu and unscheduled performance of a wonderful Benjamin Britten piece, performed solo cello without orchestra, the night was a complete success.

The concert ended with Ravel’s Le Valse, which told the story of a Waltz's birth and then death. The conductor related this to us using a very complicated extended metaphor of a wizard... I don’t know either... but it was clear the audience had an absolutely amazing night. The clapping bounced off of the walls, going on for ages and raining down on the orchestra, and most importantly Varga and Müller-Schott. And, as I travelled home on the train afterwards, I realised that every fantastic musical night I have begins with a lonely 'A' note from an oboe – and ends with aching hands from clapping! Globalement, c’était absolutement fantastique!

RSNO Young Ambassadors 14:15 – Sophie Lewis

Young Ambassadors Forum #3

Today was the third forum for the RSNO Young Ambassadors. Our focus was on connecting young audiences to centuries-old music which is something we all feel is important. We started off with a roundup of all we had done in our communities, which was interesting as everyone had been really busy and had made great progress. We decided that because a lot of us wanted to go to organisations and schools to talk about what we do that it would be a good idea to plan out a presentation that we could all use. This was good fun as everyone had great ideas as to what to put in and it allowed us to get a bit creative. After this, we brainstormed ways in which we thought we could connect young people to old music and turned our thoughts into questions that we could later ask the audience. We also got our Young Ambassador badges from Megan; my blazer will look great now!

During our market research with the audience, we met some really helpful people who had some great suggestions and ideas, which is always encouraging. I love getting out and speaking to the audience and when they are so receptive and willing to chat it makes the experience even better.

The programme for tonight’s concert – A French Feast – was one that I had been looking forward to a lot! Perhaps, as a cellist, I am biased but it was one of the best concerts yet! Daniel Müller-Schott was incredible; I was completely in awe at the way he played the Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto. The technicality of the piece and the passion he played with both amazed me. When this then led into the Fauré Elégie I thought I was in music heaven. The Elégie is one of my favourite pieces for the cello and as I am currently studying it in my music lessons it was amazing to hear it live and played so beautifully. Being sat close to the stage, you could really feel the emotion, and as a cellist I really connected to that as I’m sure many of the other Young Ambassadors did. The encore that Müller-Schott played was a great surprise and rounded off a beautiful section amazingly. I was inspired to go home and practice myself; much to my families dislike! I loved every part of the first half and would gladly sit through it again and again and again.

The second half of the concert was equally as amazing. It amazed me how together the orchestra was in Ravel's La Valse. You just got swept up on the music and let the orchestra take over. The conductor's comments on the music really put you in the right frame of mind to listen and this was great to hear. It was a shame to end the concert, to be honest, I could have listened all night!

Sophie Lewis, Young Ambassador 14:15 for North Ayshire

RSNO Young Ambassador 14:15 – Rachel Hendry

Review of Buniatishvili plays Liszt at the Music Hall, Aberdeen on Thursday 29 January 2015

The concert opened with a piece by Schumann. This isn't a composer whose work I am very familiar with, so I wasn't sure what to expect. The piece was Overture, Scherzo and Finale. I liked the elegant opening section but I really loved the lively Finale.

Next was the highlight of the evening. The pianist, Khatia Buniatishvili, played Liszt's Piano Concerto No2 in A major. Again, this piece was new to me, but I really enjoyed it. I loved the way it didn't have 3 separate movements but three contrasting sections with the same beautiful melody running through it. I thought Khatia was amazing I couldn't take my eyes off her hands as she played – her performance was spellbinding! After the gentle opening I was quite surprised by the harsh, crashing style of the finale. After the interval we were treated to two more beautiful pieces of music; Siegfried Idyll by Richard Wagner and Symphony No1, Spring by Robert Schumann. I enjoyed the soft gentle sound of the Idyll, but I really loved the more dramatic Spring, which was a wonderful end to a lovely evening.

RSNO Young Ambassadors 14:15 – Megan Lawson

Fife RSNO Young Ambassador Megan Lawson describes Metamorphosen in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Friday 24 October 2014.

I had heard R. Strauss’ Metamorphosen many a time on YouTube but to hear it live was a totally different experience. The unusual layout of the strings was a very different thing to see indeed. Many of the people I had brought with me were confused at the fact the orchestra was so small and that they were not placed in the usual manner. The piece started off very well, with the cellos taking the tune over now and again. The piece was very mystical and had a sinister feel to it. I think you have to have an acquired taste for that type of music to enjoy the musicality behind it.

Beethoven’s Overture to Fidelio was a very short and beautiful contrast to the previous piece. The fast and lively sections of the piece caught the immediate attention of the audience. As the main tune re-occurs many times in this piece many people begin to recognise the piece. The question and answer sections of the piece were executed perfectly. I really enjoyed this piece.

Concerto for Orchestra - what a way to finish a concert! I love this piece, I have listened to it so many times and it is one of my favourite classical pieces. The five different movements are all very contrasting to each other. The final movement is very lively and upbeat. It is a fantastic ending to an amazing piece.

Overall, this concert was an excellent one. All 3 pieces contrasted each other in very different ways and it was a perfect first classical concert for people to attend.

Megan Lawson

Megan is part of the RSNO's Young Ambassador Scheme, arranged by the Learning and Engagement Department. All opinions expressed by Young Ambassadors are that of the individual and are not representative of the RSNO. For more information, visit the RSNO website. 

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RSNO Young Ambassadors 14:15 – Scott Bathgate

Edinburgh RSNO Young Ambassador Scott Bathgate describes Metamorphosen in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Friday 24 October 2014.

On Friday the 24th of October, I was treated to what was a magnificent concert. This concert featured the works of Strauss with Metamorphosen, Beethoven with his Overture to Fidelio and Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra. Metamorphosen was a very emotional and inspired by very dark events in the composers life. Strauss began working on the piece after he heard there was a bombing (Strauss living in the time where his home city Munich in Germany was under the Nazi regime) on the historic opera house in Munich which he had known for 70 years. The music definitely reflects this pain as we are introduced to push string sections filled with beauty and slight dissonance. We were then treated to Beethoven's Overture to Fidelio.

Derived from Beethoven's only and unsuccessful opera, Beethoven composed the opera as he enjoyed and admired the work of Mozart's operas but he was critical of the immoral subject matter in works such as Cosi fan Tutte. A very impressive piece with a very vibrant and lively character. It went down a storm with the audience. Finally we are met with Bartok's Symphony for Orchestra. This being the longest piece on the programme was a very vast and very intricate piece. While the title may contradict itself, Bartok purposely titled this piece due to the way he uses all the instruments in the orchestra in a virtuosic and solo like manner. The piece is met with many ideas and motifs which develops throughout the entire piece. One notable point in the piece is when Bartok through compositional technique mocks Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony, which he felt was getting way more attention than it should, in the fourth movement. The viola part introduces this theme very briefly before getting mocked by the loud sound of the brass. A very powerful piece which served as a suitable finale to the evening. I thoroughly enjoyed the night and so did the audience.

Scott Bathgate

Scott is part of the RSNO's Young Ambassador scheme, arranged by the Learning and Engagement Department. All opinions expressed by Young Ambassadors are that of the individual and are not representative of the RSNO. For more information, visit the RSNO website.

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Young Ambassadors Forum #4: Natalie Brayshaw

One of the Highlands' Young Ambassadors, Natalie Brayshaw, describes the 4th Young Ambassadors Forum and Vaughan Williams' 5th on Fri 4 April 2014, at Eden Court, Inverness.

Friday 4 April saw the fourth of this season’s Young Ambassador forums, in Inverness. We met at Eden Court (in Inverness). This venue was particularly appropriate due to the fact that it was the final celebration week of the RSNO’s Highland Residency. Because to this, the forum took a slightly different format from the others: this time, it involved the Young Ambassadors preparing questions which three of us would later direct at two RSNO musicians in the pre-show talk. After having decided on some questions ranging from “What do you like about the Highlands?” to “Is the bassoon undergoing a revival?” and everything in between, we met the musicians: principal bassoon David Hubbard, and cellist Ruth Rowlands, who were more than happy to answer them. Both have been involved in the Highland Residency, and I recognised David from his involvement in the Highland Schools Wind Band, which I’m a member of.

After the talk, it was straight into another fantastic concert. It started with Neilsen’s stirring Helios overture, whose melody simply tells the story of a day – from sunrise to sunset. Though I’d heard the piece before, I’d never actually seen it performed, so it was a wonderful experience which really brought the music alive.

Next came Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite, which was fantastic: commencing with the warm and lively Sinfonta (Overture) before progressing through a number of equally interesting movements. I particularly enjoyed Gavotta because of the prominent wind section, and the humorous Vivo evoked a good reaction from the audience. I absolutely loved this piece.

After a short interval, we returned for the famous Vaughn Williams’ Symphony No.5. The audience was captivated from start to finish, and the piece was a fantastic way to end ean already brilliant evening. I look forward to the next forum!

Natalie Brayshaw

Natalie is part of the RSNO's Young Ambassador scheme, arranged by the Learning and Engagement Department. All views expressed by Young Ambassadors belong to those of the individual and are not representative of the organisation. For more information, visit the RSNO website.

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Young Ambassadors at the Big Highland Residency : Natalie Brayshaw

One of the Highlands' Young Ambassadors, Natalie Brayshaw, describes the final event of RSNO's Big Highland Residency, RSNO Collaborate on Sat 5 April 2014 at Eden Court, Inverness

On Saturday 5, Eden Court hosted RSNO Collaborate, an event which invited amateur instrumentalists and singers - young and old - of grade 4 standard and above to play alongside the orchestra in a concert following a day of intensive rehearsals. When I first heard about this opportunity, I couldn’t wait to sign up, and I’m so glad that I did. The day began when, at 10am, we all gathered in the Empire Theatre for a vocal warm up – instrumentalists and singers alike – which introduced us to the fun, informal nature of the day.

Then, we split into our instrumental groups for sectionals. The flute sectional (which I attended) was held by Andrea Kuypers, who some of us had seen playing both flute and piccolo in the orchestra the night before. We began by running through the pieces we would be playing: a variety of Scots Traditional songs including Johnnie Cope and Will Ye No Come Back Again, and Sing by Gary Barlow and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Some of the group also performed extracts from Vivaldi’s Gloria, in which woodwind are not required. This session, was very useful, and interesting in terms of flute technique. We then went into slightly larger groups, with woodwind all being led by principal bassoon, David Hubbard. After playing through and getting a general feel for the pieces, we had a break for lunch. During this, there was a performance by RSNO’s Baroque ensemble in the local hall which participants had the opportunity to attend.

After lunch, the whole orchestra and choir came together for a rehearsal. Sitting on the stage and playing alongside such a large group of both amateurs and RSNO musicians was fantastic, and it was great to have the opportunity to get advice from the professionals. When the woodwind were no longer required, some of us sat and watched rehearsals of Vivaldi’s Gloria, before the flutes met up with Andrea again, this time for a workshop based not on the pieces, but on flute technique. I already knew two other flautists from Highland Young Musician regional groups, and it was great to meet the others. We did a variety of exercises, mainly focussing on good breath control which affects a variety of other things such as tone.

Finally, it was time for the concert. A lot of the audience were friends and family members of performers, and the concert – like the rest of the day –was fairly informal. By the time it came to perform, it felt like we’d been rehearsing a lot more than the actual grand total of around 5 hours! The concert went very well, and it was wonderful for all of us to be able to say we had the opportunity to play/sing alongside the RSNO. The whole day was absolutely brilliant, and the perfect conclusion to the RSNO’s Highland Residency.

Natalie Brayshaw

Natalie is part of the RSNO's Young Ambassador scheme, arranged by the Learning and Engagement Department. All views expressed by Young Ambassadors belong to those of the individual and are not representative of the organisation. For more information, visit the RSNO website.

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Young Ambassadors at the Big Highland Residency: Elizabeth Barke

One of the Highlands' Young Ambassadors, Elizabeth Barke reviews RSNO's Big Highland Residency

Every year the RSNO holds a residency in Scotland and this year it was held in the Highlands. Overall the residency ran for 9 months with lots of different concerts and activities for all ages.

My involvement with the Big highland residency started in September when the members of the RSNO came to the highland regional youth orchestra rehearsals and worked with us for our programme for November. Working along side members of the RSNO was great as we could see how they tackled a piece of music and they gave us loads of useful tips. I was working with Janet Richardson the principle piccolo of the RSNO. This was great for me as I only recently started the piccolo so it was very inspirational to see the piccolo being played to that standard. The musicians from the RSNO then can back later on in the year to help us with a our March programme.

As part of the big highland residency the RSNO held workshops in highland schools. I was lucky to attend an improvisation workshop with my school's big band. The workshop was taken by the principle trombone player Dávur Juul Magnussen. It was such a great experience for myself and the rest of the band. We learnt to react off each others improvisation and really work well together as a band. I also hope to be attending a conducting workshop with Jean Claude Picard run by the RSNO in the near future.

As well as these workshops in schools, the RSNO held more activities for all ages such as a tea dance in Kingussie and a singing project with boys in primary 7 and secondary 1.

To end the Big Highland Residency the RSNO were in concert on the 4rth of April with a spectacular performance of Vaughan Williams Fifth symphony alongside Berlioz Helios overture and Stravinsky's ballet music Pulcinella. I was lucky enough to interview cellist Ruth Rowlands and bassoonist David Hubbard as part of the pre-concert talk. Myself and two other young ambassadors were able to ask them about their experience of the highland residency and also general questions about being in the RSNO. After we had asked them our questions they then went on to ask us questions about being young ambassadors and our involvement in the Big Highland Residency. I really enjoyed the concert and it was also great to spend some time with the other young ambassadors.

The next day was a collaboration "come sing, come play" day with the RSNO this was a chance for musicians to play and sing alongside the RSNO. The day was run through workshops in sections run by members of the RSNO. At midday the RSNO baroque ensemble performed in Inverness town house. At the end of the day there was a performance of the collaboration day work of Vivaldi's Gloria, Sing by Gary Barlow and Andrew Lloyd Webber and some traditional songs Johnnie Cope and Will Ye No Come Back Again. The Big Highland Residency 2014 has been a wonderful success  engaging more people in classical music and giving wonderful experiences to people of all ages including myself.

Elizabeth Barke

Elizabeth is part of the RSNO's Young Ambassador scheme, arranged by the Learning and Engagement Department. All views expressed by Young Ambassadors belong to those of the individual and are not representative of the organisation. For more information, visit theRSNO website

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Young Ambassador Review: Turangalila

One of the Glasgow Young Ambassadors, Luke Maher, describes Turangalila in Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Sat 15 March 2014

Turangalila was a piece that I never thought I would be able to like. I had listened to several recording but had never seen it live and until this point I hadn't managed to enjoy it at all. The dissonance and the madness of it had just never managed to capture me, however, Saturdays (15th March) performance changed it all.

The RSNO under the baton of Thomas Søndergård were thrilling and for the first time I enjoyed Messiaen's Turangalila immensely. It really is as much of a feast for the eyes as it is for the ears with the use of instruments such as the ondes Martenot (the nearest thing to a synthesiser in a piece of classical music). All the soloists really were amazing but for me the leader of the orchestra stood out as I think he captured Messiaen's idea of a love song amongst the chaos perfectly. Passages that had usually made feel a little uneasy completely reeled me in and when the tension was released, with the massive warm brass chords that pop up several times throughout the piece, the hall was left in shock and you could feel the audience wanting more.

The only disappointing thing about this concert was the attendance. A masterpiece and display of such genius should not be missed by anyone who can help it.

Luke Maher

Luke is part of the RSNO's Young Ambassador scheme, arranged by the Learning and Engagement Department. All opinions expressed by Young Ambassadors are that of the individual and are not representative of the RSNO. For more information, visit the RSNO website.

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RSNO Work Experience: Thea Sands

Renfrewshire's Young Ambassador, Thea Sands, describes what work experience with the RSNO means to her.

I’ve always been interested in the arts but only in the past year or so has music really started to form an integral part of my life. I constantly have odd little pieces of music circulating through my thoughts, often causing my brain to take diversions and become completely distracted from the task at hand but I love it! Sometimes it’s hard to ignore and I have to give in to the glory of the music by frantically dancing around to obscure polyphonic melodies, impersonating the violins with my dulcet - often terrifyingly off key - tones or by simply grabbing the nearest pen in site and taking centre stage as a flamboyant conductor with my biro for a baton! I often fall into trances where I become totally transfixed with a piece of music; all other sounds become muted and I can do little else but stare into space trying to comprehend the music in my own little world. I first fell under the spell of classical music when I burst into tears upon hearing the first few bars of Bach’s B minor Mass. I find the power classical/orchestral music holds to evoke emotions and communicate utterly enthralling.

I’m really passionate about helping other young people experience similar feelings with regards to classical music … and all music for that matter! It’s so important for me to help others explore forms of music, even if that means influencing someone to attend one concert resulting in them deciding it’s not for them. It’s essential that they have at least tried it before disregarding the form. With this in mind, the opportunity to become a Young Ambassador for the RSNO seemed absolutely perfect! I get to promote live orchestral music and work within my own community to try to enhance the integration of this musical form into youth culture. My aim is to effectively act as a ‘doorway’ for young people establish a route into classical music and other diverse realms of music.

The ideology behind increasing accessibility for the arts comes quite naturally to me and I find it easy to talk about integration with people similar to my age group and adults. I’m brimming with ideas for projects/schemes and events which may boost this integration. It’s obvious that the perception of classical music really needs to undergo a form of modulation in order to get young people interested. I’m here to instigate change!

One of my major resolutions for 2014 is to simply delve into the world of music and get involved with further Youth Arts strategies. I’m going to continue to follow my love of Classical/orchestral music and see where it takes me and try and introduce it to those who have never experienced it before. I’m determined upon finding that spark that will get young people interested in Classical music.

Thea is part of the RSNO's Young Ambassador scheme, arranged by the Learning and Engagement Department. All views expressed by Young Ambassadors belong to those of the individual and are not representative of the organisation. For more information, visit the RSNO website.

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