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 www.rsno.org.uk.