Two New Year appointments to the RSNO

New Principal Timpani Paul A Philbert (image ©Eric Richmond) & Associate Principal Bassoon Luis Eisen

Scotland's national orchestra recruit new Principal Timpani and Associate Principal Bassoon

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) has appointed Paul Philbert as its new Principal Timpani and Luis Eisen as Associate Principal Bassoon.

London-born Philbert, who studied at Purcell School and Trinity College of Music, joins from the Orchestra of Opera North where he has been Principal for the past three years. Prior to this he was a founding member of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra.

Eisen joins from the Staatsorchester Oldenburg where he has been Principal Bassoon since 2014. He has also performed with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Hallé Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra and many of the professional German ensembles.

Paul Philbert succeeds former RSNO Principal Timpani Martin Gibson who retired after 36 years' service in February 2017, and Luis Eisen replaces former Associate Principal Bassoon Rosina Alter, who departed the RSNO in November 2016.

New RSNO Principal Timpani Paul Philbert: : "I couldn't be more honoured and delighted to be joining such a wonderful and welcoming ensemble. The warmth of the RSNO made me feel at home instantly, and I look forward to many years of magnificent music-making with this marvellous orchestra!"

New Associate Principal Bassoon Luis Eisen: "I'm incredibly happy to join the RSNO - from the first moment I felt a special connection to this very passionate orchestra. I very much enjoyed the performances in my trial period and I am absolutely thrilled to become a member of this prestigious ensemble."

RSNO Music Director Peter Oundjian: "It gives me great pleasure to announce the appointments of Paul and Luis to the RSNO. Their musicianship and personalities make a perfect fit for us and I look forward to working with them. Furthermore, I would like to extend my deep appreciation to Martin and Rosina for each of their many years of dedicated service."

The RSNO has made several key appointments recently, including Leader Sharon Roffman, who joins the Orchestra next month, Andrew McLean as Associate Principal Horn, Peter Dykes as Associate Principal Oboe, Lena Zeliszewska as Associate Principal Violin, Principal Trumpet Christopher Hart and Principal Horn Christopher Gough.

In May, it was announced that Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård is to succeed Peter Oundjian as RSNO Music Director at the close of the current Season. Søndergård has been the RSNO's Principal Guest Conductor since 2012. In June, Elim Chan was appointed as Principal Guest Conductor and will conduct her first concerts in-post in autumn 2018, details of which will be announced in March.

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Costa Pilavachi joins the RSNO

Newly-appointed RSNO Board of Directors member Costa Pilavachi

Former Senior Vice-President of Universal Music co-opted to Scotland's national orchestra Board of Directors
Costa Pilavachi, one of the most influential figures in the world of classical music, has joined the Board of Directors of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO).

Costa Pilavachi began his career in the recording industry as Vice-President, Artist and Repertoire of the Dutch-based Philips Classics label, 1989-1997, and went on to serve as Global President of three major classical labels, Philips Classics, Decca Music Group and EMI Classics between 1997 and 2009. In 2010 he was appointed Senior Vice-President, Classical Artist and Repertoire of Universal Music Group, overseeing the artistic direction of the Deutsche Grammophon and Decca labels worldwide. In 2016 he became a consultant to Universal Music's Global Classics division.

Costa Pilavachi brings an international perspective of the field as well as his commensurate experience from an influential and productive career. From his days as a recording industry executive in London to working with orchestras and festivals in the USA, Canada and Europe he has experienced every facet of bringing music to audiences. His arrival enables the RSNO to further increase its international presence.

Newly appointed RSNO Director Costa Pilavachi: I am thrilled at the invitation to join the Board of the RSNO, an orchestra which I have known and admired for many decades, thanks, in part, to its wonderful recorded legacy from the Sir Alexander Gibson era. In recent times the Orchestra has developed into one of Europe's most formidable ensembles and the players and their excellent Music Director Peter Oundjian can take great pride in their accomplishments to date.

"I relish having a role with a great orchestra again and look forward to meeting the musicians and working with them, as well as getting to know Thomas Søndergård, the Music Director-Designate. It takes many dedicated people to keep an orchestra humming and it will be great to work with my fellow Board members led by Dame Susan Bruce, the Chief Executive Krishna Thiagarajan, as well as the staff and the many sponsors and supporters of this venerable Scottish national institution."

RSNO Chair Dame Sue Bruce: "It is my great pleasure to welcome Costa, a significant and symbolic addition to the RSNO's Board of Directors. Costa is a hugely respected global figure in the music business and his understanding of the opportunities and challenges presented by our industry will be of immense value to Scotland's national orchestra. As we continue to develop our presence at home and on the world stage, through international touring, recordings and partnerships, to have Costa's experience at our disposal is a major asset to our already very capable team. This is an exciting moment in the history of the RSNO and our audiences."

The RSNO Board of Directors is comprised of up to eight Elected Directors, six Player Directors, Nominated Directors from chief local authorities, the Chief Executive and Company Secretary.

The RSNO has experienced year-on-year increases in average attendances for its performances over the past five years with a notable increase in the number of people aged 26 or under attending RSNO concerts, now constituting nearly 15% of the average total audience, up nearly 3% over the same period.

2018 promises to be a landmark year for Scotland's national orchestra. In June the RSNO will bid farewell to current Music Director Peter Oundjian and, in October, welcome former Principal Guest Conductor Thomas Søndergård as its new Music Director. Peter Oundjian will embark on his final international tour with the RSNO as Music Director in May, a five-date festival tour of Europe with soloists Nicola Benedetti, Jan Vogler and Martin Stadtfeld. In addition, the founding organisation of the RSNO, the RSNO Chorus, celebrates its 175th anniversary and will be marked with special events, beginning with performances of Leonard Bernstein's Chichester Psalms and MASS, and Holst's The Planets.

Scottish Orchestra tells China Story

Composer Xiaogang Ye

RSNO performs two programmes featuring works by China's greatest living composer

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) presents two concerts celebrating the works of arguably China's greatest living composer in the Western classical tradition this month, when it performs the music of Xiaogang Ye to audiences in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Heralded by the New York Times as, "One of China's leading contemporary composers..." 61 year-old Xiaogang Ye, who is also Artistic Director of the Beijing Modern Music Festival and Vice President of China's Central Conservatory of Music, is perhaps most famously known for composing the music to accompany the 2008 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, Starry Sky, performed by Chinese concert pianist Lang Lang.

Xiaogang Ye's music has been described as colourful, melodious and deeply emotional. The titles of the works featured in China Story evoke the countryside and the poetic heritage of the country; Mount Emei, Scent of Green Mango, and The Song of Sorrow and Gratification. In the spirit of partnership and connection with nature the programme also includes a work from one of the UK's greatest composers, Britten's Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes.

The Orchestra will be led by frequent RSNO collaborator, Hungarian conductor Gilbert Varga, and will be joined by multiple prize-winning pianist Wan Jieni; Lu Wei, Concertmaster of Deutsches Symphony Orchester Berlin; 2007 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World winner Shenyang; and acclaimed percussionist Hu Shengnan.

 Xiaogang Ye, composer: "My story is part of the Chinese story and now I will bring this story to Scotland. I hope that through music, a universal language, I can show the world the fascinating culture of modern China."

While taking the root form of Western symphonic music, Ye's compositions also contain many typically Chinese influences, such as the use of Zheng, a traditional string instrument.

The RSNO has developed a significant connection with China. In addition to inviting many of its top soloists to perform in Scotland, including Lang Lang, the Orchestra made its first visit to China in 2012/13, has recorded two albums of the works of celebrated composer Ge Gan-Ru, and has also made two recordings with pianist Xiayin Wang. In addition, the RSNO has been invited to make a return visit to China in 2018/19.

The RSNO performs China Story to audiences at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh on Friday 29 September and at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Saturday 30 September. Both performances start at 7.30pm.

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RSNO appoints two senior managers

New Director of Artistic Planning and Engagement Bill Chandler and Director of Finance and Corporate Services Angela Moreland

Scotland's national orchestra welcomes new Directors of Finance and Corporate Services and Artistic Planning

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) has appointed two new members to its Senior Management Team. Associate Leader of the Orchestra Bill Chandler becomes RSNO Director of Artistic Planning and Engagement, and Angela Moreland joins as the new Director of Finance and Corporate Services.

Bill Chandler joined the RSNO in 1996 as Associate Leader but recently shared his performing responsibilities with the artistic direction of the organisation's Learning and Engagement programme. Following a formal recruitment process which resulted in the organisation receiving applications from across the globe for the new role, Bill was selected and will now lead the team responsible for the planning and implementation of the Orchestra's own-promoted performances and Learning and Engagement activities.

Angela Moreland, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, joins as Director of Finance from Scottish charity Sense Scotland, where she has been Head of Finance for the past seven years. Prior to this Angela worked for ten years as the Finance Manager for Erskine Hospital.

RSNO Chief Executive Dr Krishna Thiagarajan: "After over two decades leading and co-leading the RSNO, as well as participating in learning and engagement initiatives too numerous to mention, Bill accepted the offer and will use his considerable knowledge and experience to drive the strategic change of the organisation. More than ever, there is an identified requirement for the removal of divisions between the planning of our performance and community work, and Bill is absolutely the ideal person to drive this forward, unite our planning and deliver greater cohesiveness across our diverse activity.

"We also prepare to welcome Angela Moreland as our new Director of Finance, who has a breadth of experience in the charity and commercial sector and whom I'm confident will become an integral part of our busy team."

Director of Artistic Planning and Engagement Bill Chandler: "I am so excited about this new opportunity. I am looking forward to playing a new role and bring my 22 years of experience with the RSNO to the challenge of mapping out the artistic direction of this great orchestra. I am particularly excited about the  opportunity to bring the considerable outreach activity of the RSNO directly into the heart of the Orchestra's planning, enabling us to reach even more people across the country. Watch this space as the RSNO goes from strength to strength."

RSNO Director of Finance and Corporate Services Angela Moreland: "I'm delighted to have the opportunity to work for such a prestigious organisation. I am sure that my skills and previous experience will add to the success of the RSNO and continue the excellent work of my predecessor."

Bill Chandler's new role combines the positions of Artistic Director of Learning and Engagement - previously held by Bill - and that of Executive Producer, recently vacated by Manus Carey, who left earlier this year following his appointment as Director of Performance at the Royal Northern College of Music. Angela Moreland succeeds Kenneth Osborne, who accepted a senior management role with The Robertson Trust in July.

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ScotRail help Scottish Orchestra network

RSNO Violin Paul Medd and RSNO Viola and presenter of Teddy Bears' Picnic Lisa Rourke

RSNO's transport partner host musicians' performances on Scotland's main railway lines

Musicians from Scotland's national orchestra will take the train to various destinations across Scotland to perform concerts for the very young to the more mature this week and will provide fellow passengers with music along the way.

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra and ScotRail have enjoyed a partnership for nearly a decade, and to say thanks for being its Principal Transport Partner the RSNO musicians will disperse to four locations using the rail network to perform a concert for young children at Kennishead, a traditional dance band performance in Pitlochry featuring music from the 1920s, string duo recitals in Mallaig and Crianlarich, and two on-board performances by RSNO string members on the Edinburgh Waverley to Tweedbank line.

Closest to the RSNO's home in Glasgow, a chamber group and presenter Lisa Rourke will welcome early years and nursery aged children to Kennishead community organisation Positively Including Everyone (PIE), for a presentation of its critically acclaimed Teddy Bears Picnic, an interactive performance tailored especially for young children.

In the east, RSNO string players will entertain passengers on the Borders Railway Line between Edinburgh and Tweedbank, the longest new domestic railway to be built in over 100 years in Scotland.

On Tuesday 6 June and Wednesday 7 June the West Highland Line between Glasgow Queen Street Station and Mallaig will have a string duo performing music with a Nordic influence, collated by RSNO Viola Katherine Wren who spent several months last year travelling around Shetland, The Faroes, Greenland and Iceland, immersing herself in the diverse but connected musical cultures.

The RSNO's Café Orchestra will perform at the Atholl Centre, Pitlochry on Wednesday 7 June from 2.30pm, providing attendees with all the means to dance to the hits of the 1920s and 30s. The musicians will also be entertaining passengers on their way from Glasgow to Pitlochry with a themed selection of music.

James Ledgerwood, the ScotRail Alliance's Head of Economic Development: "We're very fortunate to work alongside so many groups across Scotland that are so passionate, not only about their local railway, but also about the wider difference the railway can make to local communities.

"These concerts show that the benefits these groups bring don't end at the station platform."

RSNO Artistic Director for Learning and Engagement William Chandler: "Our partnership with ScotRail is incredibly valuable to us as it provides us with the means to travel the country performing to audiences in urban and rural settings. We relish the opportunity to try new things so when the opportunity to use the rail network to not only access performance opportunities but to provide platforms for performances themselves we were keen to accept. We're very much looking forward to seeing some new faces on our journeys and spreading the joy of live music".