The RSNO’s 2018:19 Season announced

Thomas Søndergård’s first Season as Music Director

“This is fantastic news for the orchestra. The…Danish conductor is precisely the right man for the job.” The Scotsman

“[Søndergård] brings a massive sense of purpose to music-making, and he certainly galvanises the RSNO into some extraordinary playing at all extremes of expression…” The Herald

“[Chan] made a big impression with both players and the critics.” International Arts Manager

Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård, RSNO Principal Guest Conductor since 2012, assumes his role as the 36th individual to occupy the chief post of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s Artistic Team from October 2018, succeeding Peter Oundjian as Music Director. Last year the RSNO musicians voted overwhelmingly in favour of Søndergård’s appointment, who follows in the footsteps of previous Music Directors/Principal Conductors such as Sir George Henschel, George Szell, Sir John Barbirolli, Sir Alexander Gibson and Neeme Järvi, and is contracted for an initial four-year term.

The post of Principal Guest Conductor, made vacant by Søndergård’s promotion to Music Director, has been filled by Hong-Kong born Elim Chan, previous winner of the London Symphony Orchestra’s Donatella Flick Conducting Competition and Dudamel fellowship with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2016:17.

In Søndergård’s first Season as Music Director the RSNO will provide an insight into the future direction of the National Orchestra’s programming under his leadership, which includes the commencement of Mahler and Prokofiev symphonic cycles over four Seasons, performances of established works by Adès, Beethoven, Bruckner, Britten, Elgar, Gershwin, Grieg, Mozart, Poulenc, Rachmaninov, Ravel, Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saëns, Sibelius, and Walton, as well as new music by Lotta Wennäkoski, Ken Johnston, Gary Carpenter, Wynton Marsalis and Paul Chihara.

RSNO Music Director Designate Thomas Søndergård: “I have intimated previously that, as cliché as it may sound, I had the feeling from the very beginning of our relationship that we shared a special sense of purpose. I’m delighted that we have not succumbed to the ‘seven-year itch’, and that the Orchestra has chosen me as its Music Director for the next chapter in its journey. I love working with these musicians, I feel at home in Scotland, and I hugely appreciate the warmth and generosity of the audiences we perform to. Now, more than ever, I look forward to visiting the great concert halls across the country and playing my part in providing the quality of musicianship the people of Scotland expect and deserve.

The advantage of getting to know the Orchestra over time is that I’ve developed a feeling for what we do well together. I’ve included music in this Season that I think is important for us to do at this point in our journey together, and also music that best fits the combination of the Orchestra and me – all with a view of where we’d like to be in three or four years’ time.”

RSNO Chief Executive Dr Krishna Thiagarajan: “To a certain extent we must thank fate for lending a hand in getting us to this position. It was the cancellation of a guest conductor in 2009 and the subsequent appearance of Thomas that led to this orchestra meeting its next Music Director. From that first date the musicians knew that this was a relationship we would build and develop. Nearly seven years later and we are now taking it to the next level. Similarly, with the appointment of Elim Chan as Principal Guest Conductor, who initially came to us, stepping in for an indisposed Neeme Järvi last year, we are grateful for such fortune to strike twice. We look to the future with confidence as an exciting, innovative and growing national arts organisation, to better serve our audience.”

Thomas Søndergård
Thomas Søndergård appears for ten weeks during his inaugural Season as Music Director and commences his tenure with the first Mahler symphony, Symphony No5, of what will be a complete cycle over four years. An indication that Thomas will be introducing new works to Scotland is apparent in the choice of fellow Nord Lotta Wennäkoski’s Flounce (which received its world premiere at the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms last year and receives its Scottish premiere here) as the first work to be performed as Music Director. Further indication that Thomas will bring new and exciting collaborative artists is evident in his choice of first guest soloist, Swiss pianist Francesco Piemontesi, who will perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No2.

Thomas and the RSNO are joined by 2017 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Main Prize and Song Prize winner, Scottish mezzo-soprano Catriona Morison for the second week of the 2018:19 Season, for performances of Ravel’s song-cycle Shéhérazade, which shares the programme with selected movements from Grieg’s Peer Gynt and Rachmaninov’s Symphony No1.

Poulenc’s Gloria is the featured work in Søndergård’s first programme as Music Director with the RSNO Chorus, which continues to celebrate its 175th anniversary in 2018. Thomas welcomes soprano Elin Rombo for the Mass, and also pianist Alexander Gavrylyuk, who will perform Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No1. These concerts begin with Prokofiev’s Symphony No1 Classical and, to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, performances of Ken Johnston’s cantata All Those Men Who Marched Away.

In the Year of Young People, Søndergård’s Guide to the Orchestra exhibits works associated with orchestral music and younger listeners. Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra and Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals are often paired, but with two world premieres, including Gary Carpenter’s Ghost Songs, written to mark the 40th anniversary of the RSNO Junior Chorus, and Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos with soloists Christina and Michelle Naughton, it’s a gala event for all ages.

A seasonal Søndergård presents a festive offering in December, with excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, joined by this Season’s RSNO Artist in Residence Johannes Moser for Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme, and to begin, Prokofiev’s Winter Bonfire.

In the New Year, Søndergård takes us hunting in the Alps by way of Bruckner’s Symphony No4, paired in the programme with the most complete element of Mahler’s final symphony, the Adagio from Symphony No10.

In February, Søndergård and Nicola Benedetti team up for the Scottish premiere of Wynton Marsalis’ Violin Concerto, composed especially for the Scottish violinist in 2015. Robert Russell Bennett’s symphonic arrangement of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and Dances from Thomas Adès’ chamber opera Power Her Face complete the programme.

Thomas returns to Scotland in March for performances of Prokofiev’s Symphony No5 and Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, with soloist Olga Kern. The audience in Edinburgh will also be treated to a World Premiere of Paul Chihara’s A Matter of Honor, while the following night in Glasgow will feature Sibelius’ Symphony No7.

The survey of the symphonies of Gustav Mahler continue in May, with performances of his Sixth Symphony, paired with Mozart’s Piano Concerto No23 K488 with frequent RSNO guest artist Ingrid Fliter.

Søndergård’s first RSNO Season as Music Director concludes in dramatic fashion when the Orchestra is joined by the RSNO Chorus for Belshazzar’s Feast, William Walton’s cantata to religious freedom. Sibelius’ suite to Belshazzar’s Feast opens the evening, and Truls Mørk performs Elgar’s Cello Concerto.

Elim Chan
Audiences and musicians were so delighted with Elim Chan’s first two appearances with the Orchestra at the beginning of last year it prompted the decision to appoint her as the next Principal Guest Conductor, succeeding Thomas Søndergård. She returns to Scotland for three programmes in 2018:19.

In November Chan presents Rachmaninov’s nostalgic orchestral suite Symphonic Dances, Dukas’ symphonic poem The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and, with multiple award-winning pianist Benjamin Grosvenor, Chopin’s Piano Concerto No2.

Ever the romantic, Chan returns in February for Valentine’s Day week. Selected movements from Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet share this programme with Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture. Lukáš Vondráček, who, according to The Telegraph has, “…a marked tendency for winning competitions…” joins Chan and the Orchestra for Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No2.

For the penultimate concerts of the 2018:19 Season Chan and the Orchestra perform Elgar’s Enigma Variations, the Scottish premiere of Hong Kong-born composer Fung Lam’s Endless Forms and Sibelius’ Violin Concerto with soloist Benjamin Beilman.

RSNO Principal Guest Conductor Designate Elim Chan: “I am thrilled to be a part of the RSNO Artistic Team and very much look forward to exploring together what’s ahead!"

Guest conductors
Carlos Miguel Prieto
returns in October for a complete concert performance of de Falla’s Three-Cornered Hat. The relationship between the Orchestra and multiple award-winning composer Krzysztof Penderecki extends many decades, who first conducted the Orchestra in 1975. The SNO performed the UK premiere of his First Violin Concerto in 1979. He returns to Scotland to celebrate his 85th birthday, conducting Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No5 and his own Violin Concerto No2 Metamorphosen with Anne-Sophie Mutter as soloist. Sir Roger Norrington resumes his interpretation of the works of Robert Schumann with the conclusion of the symphonic cycle. Gilbert Varga brings new life to Dvořák’s New World Symphony. Philadelphia Orchestra lends its Assistant Conductor Kensho Watanabe who will conduct Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. Nathalie Stutzmann makes her RSNO debut as a conductor with an all-Beethoven programme, including the Coriolan Overture and Symphony No5.

Guest Soloists
Francesco Piemontesi
makes his RSNO debut, appearing as the first guest soloist of the 2018:19, playing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No2. BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2017 winner Scottish mezzo-soprano Catriona Morison also makes her RSNO debut, channelling the spirit of Ravel’s Shéhérazade. British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor is also new to the Orchestra, who will perform Chopin’s Piano Concerto No2 in November. Winner of the 2005 Arthur Rubenstein Competition Alexander Gavrylyuk first performed with the RSNO in 2011 and rejoins the musicians for Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No1. Soprano Elin Rombo appears in the same programme for Poulenc’s Gloria.  More Poulenc the following week, in the form of his Concerto for Two Pianos with sisters Christina and Michelle Naughton as twin soloists. Penderecki’s Violin Concerto No2 will be performed by superstar German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, to whom the concerto is dedicated. RSNO Artist in Residence for 2018:19 is German-Canadian cellist Johannes Moser, who will join the RSNO in December for performances of Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme, and again in April for The Music of John Williams, plus an appearance in the RSNO Chamber Series. RSNO favourite Nicola Benedetti returns in February for the Scottish premiere of Wynton Marsalis’ Violin Concerto. Lukáš Vondráček is another newcomer to the RSNO, who will perform Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto. Mozart’s Violin Concerto No4 K218 will be played by Francesca Dego. Hungarian violinist Kristóf Baráti, who wowed audiences with the BBC SSO last year, returns to perform Brahms’ Violin Concerto in March. American violinist Benjamin Beilman, described by the Philadelphia Inquirer as, “…monstrously talented…” makes his RSNO debut in May 2019 for performances of Sibelius’ Violin Concerto. Scottish International Piano Competition 2017 winner Can Çakmur fulfils his competition-winning obligations next year, coming to play Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No3, in a programme that also features soprano Fflur Wyn and tenor Adrian Dwyer for Orff’s Carmina Burana. Olga Kern performed Rachmaninov with the RSNO in 2013 and returns in 2019 for more, this time for performances of Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp K299 features our very own Principal Flute Katherine Bryan and harpist Pippa Tunnell in May. More Mozart, in the guise of his Piano Concerto No23 K488 will be performed by Ingrid Fliter, who also contributes to the exploratory concert [INSIDE]OUT earlier in the week. To close the 2018:19 Season Truls Mørk will play Elgar’s Cello Concerto and 2017 Cardiff Singer of the World finalist, baritone Anthony Clark Evans performs Walton’s cantata Belshazzar’s Feast with the RSNO and RSNO Chorus.


The exploratory programmes by the RSNO, introduced in 2015, have been developed for 2018:19. Now titled [INSIDE]OUT and this year presented by broadcaster and musician Tom Redmond, [INSIDE]OUT will explore the musical worlds of Robert Schumann in February (with conductor Sir Roger Norrington) and in May Mozart, with Music Director Thomas Søndergård and pianist Ingrid Fliter, both at the RSNO Centre, Glasgow.

Symphony, Soup and a Sandwich

The now established lunchtime concert series in Glasgow continues for 2018:19 with three programmes spread across the Season. Increasingly acknowledged as a proving-ground for emerging conductors, the forthcoming Season welcomes Tung-Chieh Chuang, Harish Shankar and Eugene Tzigane to Scotland, all for their RSNO debuts, with programmes ranging from Fauré’s Masques et bergamasques and Bizet’s Symphony in C, to Brahms’ Symphony No2 and Beethoven’s Egmont Overture and Symphony No4.

RSNO at the Movies

The RSNO’s film music programmes have introduced thousands of new people to live orchestral music, and their popularity has continued, as illustrated by the large audiences experienced at The Music of Star Wars concerts in Perth, Edinburgh and Glasgow last February. The RSNO’s film music provision continues to grow for the forthcoming Season.  

The Orchestra’s chief film music conductor Richard Kaufman returns to conduct The Music of Harry Potter in March and The Music of John Williams in April. In January Anthony Weeden conducts and Tom Redmond presents Sci-Fi Spectacular!, with a programme including music from films such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Alien, Avatar and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

The RSNO has recorded a number of scores for movies over the years, principally for the Hollywood label Varèse Sarabande, and for the label’s 40th anniversary the RSNO is joining forces with conductor Diego Navarro, flautist Sara Andon producer Robert Townson and the RSNO Chorus to survey some of the music the partnership has brought to bear, from composers such as Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein, Alex North and Game of Thrones composer Ramin Djawadi. Also joining the Orchestra for this special occasion will be Scottish composer Patrick Doyle and English composer Rachel Portman.

The Orchestra’s partnership with Edinburgh International Film Festival began in 2015 with the screening of Back to the Future at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre with live symphonic accompaniment. Since then the RSNO has provided the live score for films such as Raiders of the Lost Ark and E.T. The Extra Terrestrial. Next year, Back to the Future will come to Glasgow, due to popular demand.

Seasonal favourite the RSNO Christmas Concert, featuring the screening of Raymond Briggs’ animated classic The Snowman, welcomes conductor Matthew Hamilton and presenter Jamie MacDougall to add a little magic to the festivities.

RSNO Chamber Series
The RSNO’s Chamber Series continues to present its musicians in a more intimate setting. The first of the new Season, in November, features pianist Benjamin Grosvenor playing Brahms’ Piano Quintet No1 and Schubert’s Trout Quintet.

In December RSNO Principal Oboe Adrian Wilson leads the ensemble for Mozart and More, with a programme including Mozart’s Oboe Quartet K370, String Quartet No19 K465 Dissonance and Finzi’s Prelude and Fugue for String Trio and Interlude for Oboe and String Quartet.

In January the RSNO Brass Quintet presents Brilliant Brass, which includes music from Bach by way of Vivaldi in the Concerto in D major BWV972, Morten Lauridsen’s O magnum mysterium, Dukas’ Fanfare from La péri, Arnold’s Brass Quintet No1 and Bagatelle Suite from the RSNO’s own Principal Horn Christopher Gough.

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

Partnerships are crucial to the work of the RSNO and we aim to facilitate local, national and international partnerships with cultural, commercial, public, charitable and community organisations in order to increase and sustain the impact, reach, reputation and contribution of the Orchestra’s work.

The RSNO continues to strengthen its reputation for delivering rewarding programmes for its corporate partners and sponsors, helping to build profile, serve local communities, engage staff and customers and generate inspiring stories.

In 2017 RSNO was delighted to re-sign a new multi-year agreement with long standing corporate partner, ScotRail. ScotRail will continue to be the RSNO’s Official Transport Provider, a partnership which reduces the environmental impact of the RSNO’s busy touring schedule and encourages concert-goers to take the train to concerts, supporting ScotRail’s commercial activities across Scotland. The partnership also supports ScotRail’s developing network of community rail partnerships (CRPs), providing music-making and engagement in communities across Scotland.

Capital Document Solutions continues its generous support of the RSNO’s photocopying and document management services in the RSNO’s new home. Across the Season Capital Document Solutions sponsors concerts from our Gala and Movies series, with opportunities to build the company’s brand and gain access to hospitality at concerts, helping to develop relationships with staff and clients. This partnership is now in its tenth year.

The RSNO is proud to be Classic FM’s Orchestra in Scotland.

The RSNO’s partnership with Glasgow Airport enters its ninth year following the successful 2017 project which saw the RSNO stage two performances in Glasgow Airport’s main terminal. The RSNO and Assistant Conductor Holly Mathieson performed two programmes of well-loved classical favourites and invited passengers to the podium to conduct Scotland’s national orchestra.

The RSNO has recently forged a new partnership with the Institut Français Écosse, an association which will support Franco-Scottish cross-cultural collaboration.

The RSNO is also delighted to continue its sponsorship with La Bonne Auberge, a partnership which supports Children's Classic Concerts, now in its ninth year.

The RSNO would like to thank all its sponsors, corporate partners, media and broadcast partners and project partners who make a crucial contribution to the work of the Orchestra.

Principal Sponsors: Capital Document Solutions, Victor & Carina Contini, Gallagher, Glasgow Airport, Harry Fairburn, Institut Français Écosse, Investec Wealth & Investment,Old Course Hotel St Andrews, Prestonfield, La Bonne Auberge, Valvona & Crolla.


Principal Media Partner: Classic FM

Broadcast Partner: BBC Radio 3

Principal Transport Provider: ScotRail

Corporate Partners: Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, Institute of Directors, Scots Magazine, The Scottish Council for Development & Industry, Smart Graphics.

Chair Sponsors: Cadenhead’s, Mitchell’s Glengyle, Springbank Distillers Ltd, J&A Mitchell and Co. Ltd.

Project Partners: Children's Classic Concerts, Children's Hospice Association Scotland, Confab, Culture Republic, Dyslexia Scotland, Glasgow Life, Horsecross Arts, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Sistema Scotland, Skills Development Scotland, Tayside Healthcare Arts Trust, Usher Hall, Year of Young People, Young Scot.

Glasgow's performance of Stravinsky's Firebird also cancelled

Tomorrow's RSNO concert at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall will no longer go ahead due to the persistent adverse weather conditions affecting much of the UK.

Yesterday afternoon the Usher Hall, Edinburgh performance of Stravinsky's Firebird, due to be performed this evening, was cancelled. It was hoped that Saturday's concert in Glasgow would be saved but the high winds combined with increased snowfall have made this unfeasible.

The RSNO will offer patrons who purchased tickets to Stravinsky's Firebird an exchange for any other RSNO 2017:18 Season concert at the Usher Hall or Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on a cost-for-cost basis, or a full refund. To arrange this, contact the Usher Hall Box Office on 0131 228 1155 or the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on 0141 353 8000.

The next RSNO concerts, Søndergård Conducts Ein Heldenleben, feature RSNO Music Director Designate Thomas Søndergård and soloist Sunwook Kim and will appear at Caird Hall, Dundee on Thursday 15 March (7.30pm), the Usher Hall, Edinburgh on Friday 16 March (7.30pm), the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on March 16 February (7.30pm). For more information visit

Heavy snow extinguishes planned performance of Stravinsky's Firebird in Edinburgh

Tomorrow's RSNO concert at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh will no longer go ahead due to the adverse weather conditions affecting much of the UK.

Stravinsky's Firebird, also due to be performed at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Saturday 3 March, is cancelled in Edinburgh due to reasons of safety, though it is hoped that the Glasgow concert will still go ahead.

RSNO Chief Executive Dr Krishna Thiagarajan: "The safety and well-being of our patrons, musicians, staff and visiting artists must always be our top priority. Adhering to the advice from the Scottish Government and Police Scotland, as well as our partner venues, we have decided to cancel Friday's performance in Edinburgh. We apologise to our supporters who were looking forward to conductor Lorenzo Viotti's RSNO Season debut and pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet's return to the Usher Hall. We will endeavour to invite them to join us at the first available opportunity."

The RSNO will offer patrons who purchased tickets to Stravinsky's Firebird an exchange for any other RSNO 2017:18 Season concert at the Usher Hall on a cost-for-cost basis, or a full refund. To arrange this, contact the Usher Hall Box Office on 0131 228 1155.

The next RSNO concerts, Søndergård Conducts Ein Heldenleben, feature RSNO Music Director Designate Thomas Søndergård and soloist Sunwook Kim and will appear at Caird Hall, Dundee on Thursday 15 March (7.30pm), the Usher Hall, Edinburgh on Friday 16 March (7.30pm), the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on March 16 February (7.30pm). For more information visit

Daniel wins the ultimate prize - a trolley dash in a toy shop!

Photo: 8 year-old Daniel Rea as Lord Garmadon8 year old music fan Daniel Rea is set to experience every child's dream - a trolley dash in a toy shop, picking up prizes of all shapes and sizes. The talented youngster entered the annual Children's Classic Concerts' costume competition, sponsored by A1 Toys, at their Ghost Train concert, performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and the Usher Hall, Edinburgh over the Halloween weekend in 2017.

Daniel attended the concert dressed as Lord Garmadon from The LEGO Ninjago Movie. His home-made cardboard creation with hand-painted details seriously wowed the expert panel of judges - Danielle Durieu from the costume department at Scottish Opera and Karen McGrady-Parker, Associate Director at Scottish Youth Theatre. Daniel beat off all the competition from Children's Classic Concerts' audiences in both Glasgow and Edinburgh to win the top prize, much to his delight. Dr Alexis Rea, Daniel's Mum, said on hearing the news, "thank you so much. He will be ecstatic when he finds out. Probably won't sleep tonight!"

Children's Classic Concerts' popular presenters Owen Gunnell and Olly Cox will be there to cheer Daniel on, kick-starting proceedings in style with an enthusiastic drum roll.

The trolley dash comes amongst a flurry of activity for CCC, beginning with Gypsy Jazz, a brand-new concert featuring award-winning Scottish songstress and fiddler, Seonaid Aitken and her band Rose Room. This interactive introduction to jazz will have families literally dancing in the aisles - it starts off in Govanhill, and tours to Peebles and Banchory.

Owen and Olly then visit Additional Support Needs schools in Glasgow and Edinburgh to perform an engaging programme as part of a wider music transition project, supporting pupils as they move from primary to secondary education.
Finally, they take CCC's Tartan Tales concert to the Caird Hall, delighting the Dundee audience with a musical celebration of Scottish story-telling.

The trolley dash will take place at 5:30pm on Tuesday 27 February 2018 at A1 Toys store at the Silverburn Shopping Centre, Barrhead Rd, Glasgow G53 6QR

Andrei Ioniță makes RSNO debut in place of indisposed Jan Vogler

Photo: Andrei Ioniță

Romanian cellist and BBC New Generation Artist Andrei Ioniță will make his debut with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) this week as a last-minute replacement for RSNO Artist-in-Residence Jan Vogler, who is unwell.

In an unchanged programme, Ioniță will perform Robert Schumann's Cello Concerto with the RSNO to audiences at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh on Friday 9 February and at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Saturday 10 February. The programmes, conducted by Music Director of the Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz Karl-Heinz Steffens, also features Britten's An American Overture and Elgar's Symphony No1, which marks its 110th anniversary this year.
Described by The Times as "one of the most exciting cellists to have emerged for a decade", Andrei Ioniţă won First Prize at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 2015, and prizes at the ARD, Emanuel Feuermann and Aram Khachaturian competitions. In 2016 he was named a BBC New Generation Artist for the period 2016-2018.

Cellist Andrei Ioniţă: "First of all, I would like to wish Jan a speedy recovery. Furthermore, it is an honour and a privilege to be asked to perform with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. I have been preparing the Schumann Cello Concerto, of which I am very fond, for performances with the NFM Wrocław Philharmonic throughout Europe, so the timing is quite fortunate. I very much look forward to playing this wonderful concerto for the audiences in Edinburgh and Glasgow."

Jan Vogler has also withdrawn from the chamber concert Classic Strings on Sunday 11 February at the RSNO Centre, Glasgow, though this will still go ahead with a revised programme.

Elgar One (supported by the Iain and Pamela Sinclair Legacy) appears at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh on Friday 9 February (7.30pm) and the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Saturday 10 February (7.30pm). For more information visit

Brief Encounter with live Orchestra

Classic forbidden love story to be screened with live symphonic accompaniment

Next week, the 1945 British romantic drama Brief Encounter, based on a screenplay by Noël Coward and directed by David Lean, will be screened to audiences in Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow complete with a live orchestral score.
Dirk Brossé conducts the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO), joined by British pianist and 1993 winner of the Beethoven Piano Competition, Leon McCawley, who will perform excerpts from Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No2, as used to powerful effect in the original film score.

Brief Encounter is an adaptation of Noël Coward's 1936 one-act play Still Life and centres on a married woman whose life takes a turn following a chance meeting with a stranger at a railway station, with whom she falls in love. The film was acclaimed upon its release and was voted one of the ten greatest movies ever made in two separate 1952 critics' polls. The British Film Institute voted Brief Encounter the second greatest British film of all time, after The Third Man. Director David Lean is the most represented director in the list, with seven films in the BFI Top 100 British films.

RSNO Director of Planning and Engagement Bill Chandler: "For those who have seen it, Rachmaninov's tense, yearning music is inextricably linked with the memorable scenes from Brief Encounter. It has the perfect combination of stunning cinematography and arresting music that has made it one of Britain's most successful films to date. I'm delighted that Leon McCawley has agreed to perform this challenging music, with the added pressure of synchronising with what's on the screen. I defy anyone not to be moved by this presentation, perfect for Valentine's weekend!"

The RSNO has become synonymous with performing film music and live score performances in recent years. Its partnership with the Edinburgh International Film Festival has provided captive audiences with such presentations as Back to the Future, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial and Raiders of the Lost Ark. With conductor Richard Kaufman the Orchestra continues to perform music from the movies, notably the works of John Williams, who recently gave the Orchestra permission to give the first public performances outside the USA of his music to the latest Star Wars film The Last Jedi.

Brief Encounter Live (in partnership with Edinburgh International Film Festival) is at Caird Hall, Dundee on Thursday 15 February (7.30pm), the Usher Hall, Edinburgh on Friday 16 February (7.30pm), the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Saturday 16 February (7.30pm). For more information visit

A First for The Last Jedi Soundtrack

Scotland's national orchestra  will be first outside the USA to perform new movie music live

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) will be one of the first orchestras to perform the music of the latest Star Wars film The Last Jedi live next month, when it celebrates the canon of music associated with the most popular science fiction series of all time, to audiences in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth.

Composer John Williams will conduct the world premiere of a new suite of music from The Last Jedi with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra on Wednesday 31 January and the RSNO, with conductor Richard Kaufman, will present the european premiere of music from the latest Star Wars film on Friday 2 February at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh. The programme will also appear twice at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Saturday 3 February and once at Perth Concert Hall on Sunday 4 February.

In addition to the music from the last eight Star Wars films, including one of the first live opportunities to hear themes from the latest movie The Last Jedi, the RSNO will perform selected works from John Williams' score for Superman, which marks its 40th anniversary this year.

John Williams' career spans six decades. He has written music for some of the most popular and recognisable scores in cinematic history, including the Star Wars series, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Superman and Indiana Jones. Williams has received numerous awards, including five Oscars, and has received fifty-one Academy Award nominations, more than any other living person and the second most nominated person of all time, behind to Walt Disney. In 2005 the American Film Institute selected Williams' music for the original Star Wars movie as the greatest American film score of all time.

Richard Kaufman, who was previously a violinist in John Williams' Orchestra and appears on many of the original soundtracks, has been the RSNO's go-to maestro for its film programmes over the past five years and has developed the live film music strand as one of the Orchestra's most popular series of concerts.

Conductor Richard Kaufman: "John Williams is certainly the greatest living film composer and, without question, is also one of history's finest creators of film music.  In the grand tradition of legendary film music composers including Steiner, Waxman, Tiomkin, Herrmann, Newman and only a few others, John Williams' music is consistently the primary reason for a film's success.  Just imagine Star Wars, Jaws, E.T., Indiana Jones, Schindler's List, Harry Potter, and so many other movies without the extraordinary musical contribution of John Williams!

"With now 51 Oscar nominations, the latest for his score to The Last Jedi, and with the unanimous respect and affection of the entire Hollywood community and audiences around the world, John has made a profound and lasting mark on film history.  And most importantly, he has done it all with humility, gracious appreciation, and dignity. When John's music is performed by the ladies and gentlemen of the RSNO, it's not merely a becomes an exciting musical event to be cherished by all who have the unique opportunity to experience some of Hollywood's most memorable film music played by one of the world's greatest symphony orchestras."

Published by Variety Magazine earlier this month, actor Mark Hamill, who has played the role of hero Luke Skywalker since the first Star Wars film in 1977, recalled hearing John's music for the first time: "Tears were streaming down my face," he says. "I was so overwhelmed, so moved, so delighted. He elevated our modest little movie into an epic. We owe him so much. Aside from George Lucas, nobody deserves more credit for the success of those films than John Williams."

The Music of Star Wars (sponsored by Capital Document Solutions) is at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh on Friday 2 February (7.30pm), the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Saturday 3 February (3.00pm and 7.30pm) and at Perth Concert Hall on Sunday 4 February (7.30pm). For more information visit

Two New Year appointments to the RSNO

Image: 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

Image: 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.

CBBC star Millie narrates The Snowman

Image: Millie Innes
Millie Inbetween actor Millie Innes makes her RSNO debut telling Briggs' festive tale
The Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) will be joined by star of the CBBC comedy series Millie Inbetween for its annual Christmas Concerts this Season, coming to Perth, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
BAFTA Nominated Millie Innes, who recently celebrated her 17th birthday, rose to fame in 2010 performing alongside fellow Scottish actor David Tennant as his on-screen daughter in BBC One drama Single Father and with Star Trek and Harry Potter star Jason Isaacs in the Edinburgh-based BBC series Case Histories. Since 2014 Millie has starred in her own sitcom series Millie Inbetween which airs on the BBC's children's television channel CBBC.
The RSNO Christmas Concerts (sponsored by the RSNO's Transport Partner ScotRail) features the screening of Raymond Briggs' classic animation The Snowman, which marks its 35th anniversary of its first broadcast on Channel 4 this year. Millie Innes will narrate the story to the film with live symphonic accompaniment, led by conductor Christopher Bell.
The RSNO Christmas Concert is also filled with seasonal favourites, carols and the chance for the audience to join in with the Orchestra and Chorus. The Herald's Music Critic Michael Tumelty gave last year's Christmas Concert five stars out of five and described it as, " of the best of such shows I have devoured with delight..."
RSNO Christmas Concert narrator Millie Innes: "I'm so excited to be working with the RSNO and it's a great honour to be involved in this Christmas classic.  The Snowman is a such a lovely story and something we can all enjoy as a family. I also look forward to collaborating with conductor Christopher Bell, who, I'm told, knows how to throw a great Christmas party!"
The RSNO Christmas Concert appears at Perth Concert Hall on Wednesday 20 December (7.30pm), the Caird Hall, Dundee on Thursday 21 December (7.30pm), the Usher Hall, Edinburgh on Friday 22 December (7.30pm) and at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Saturday 23 December (2.00pm & 6.00pm).
The RSNO's Festive Season continues at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall with its new year matinee performance of Handel's Messiah, on Tuesday 2 January 2018 (3.00pm) with the RSNO Chorus, who celebrate their 175th anniversary in 2018. Nicholas Kraemer conducts and is joined by soprano Julia Doyle, countertenor Reginald Mobley, tenor Nicholas Mulroy and baritone Benjamin Bevan.
The RSNO and its Assistant Conductor Holly Mathieson are accompanied by soprano Soraya Mafi for its Viennese Gala, which visits the Buccleuch Centre, Langholm on Friday 5 January (7.30pm), the Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline on Saturday 6 January (7.30pm), the Eden Court Theatre, Inverness (7.30pm) on Wednesday 10 January and the Albert Halls, Stirling on Thursday 11 January (7.30pm).
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