For everyone, 2020 has been a challenging and unprecedented year. Back in March, we went through the sad process of cancelling concerts and experienced the uncertainty of not knowing when we would be able to return to the concert hall stage.

Although the pandemic has made 2020 a very difficult year, it has also offered us opportunities to connect with communities at home and around the world. We couldn't have done it without the kind support and donations from our audience, patrons, donors and partners - thank you for brightening our year.

As we welcome in the New Year, we take a look back at 2020...

January 2020 - European Tour

Before lockdown, social distancing and travel corridors were a regular feature in our vocabulary, we went on tour! Over nine days, we performed at six concert halls in Germany (Ludwigsburg, Aachen, Regensburg, Friedrichshafen), Belgium (Antwerp) and the Netherlands (Eindhoven). Music Director Thomas Søndergård and violinist Nicola Benedetti joined us for a programme of Sibelius, Vaughan Williams and Dvořák, completed with some toe-tapping traditional Scottish reels.

February 2020 - Celebrating Beethoven and a new Principal Clarinet

We began our Beethoven Revolution series this month, created to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the legendary composer's birth. We kicked off with Beethoven's Symphony No7 with our Principal Guest Conductor Elim Chan and sensational rising star Noa Wildschut.

This month we also appointed a new Principal Clarinet, Timothy Orpen, after a six year search. You can find out more about Timothy below!

March 2020 - Last Live Concert and Friday Night Club

On 14 March, we performed our last live concert of 2020 with the RSNO Chorus singing Stravinsky and Sunwook Kim performing Beethoven's Emperor Concerto, under the baton of Music Director Thomas Søndergård. A poignant moment, we left the concert hall with a little trepidation for what was about to happen in Scotland and around the world.

When lockdown began on the 23 March, our Digital Team worked on super-speed to bring our first Friday Night Club online concert to life! The digital concert series, premiering each Friday on Facebook and YouTube ran for 15 weeks and was watched by more than 250,000 viewers! The concerts are still available to watch on demand for free.

April 2020 - #RSNOchallenge

With schools closed, we created a fun, musical activity series that all ages could take part in. We broadcast a new #RSNOchallenge every week for 14 weeks and loved seeing children, parents and teachers taking part! #RSNOchallenge was kindly sponsored by ScotRail.

May 2020 - Welcoming you into our homes

As lockdown continued, our musicians welcomed you into their homes every Sunday for a special performance of music that meant something to them. These short performances, including music by Handel, Bach and Debussy are available to watch on demand now.

June 2020 - Going Places

Due to the pandemic, we had to adapt our popular two-day work experience to an online experience. Working in collaboration with composer Nathan Hall, young people from across Scotland composed a piece of music designed to be performed by remote musicians. The young people were involved in all aspects of the project, not only creating the work but also making their own #RSNOchallenge for children and families, and designing the marketing campaign for the online performance.

July 2020 - Junior Chorus At Home

Throughout lockdown, we continued to work with our Junior Chorus through weekly Zoom calls. The culmination of these sessions were five wonderful singing wall videos. Check them out - they really will brighten your day!

August 2020 - Edinburgh International Festival

A monumental month as we stepped back onto the stage for our first performance since March. Music Director Thomas Søndergård returned to Scotland for Mahler's Symphony No7 and three songs from Mahler's Rückert-Lieder with mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill, recorded as part of Edinburgh International Festival's My Light Shines On.

Photo © Mihaela Bodlovic

September 2020 - A very different kind of Season!

As it became clear that our venues would not be able to re-open for the start of our Season, we set about re-imagining it. After lots of coffee-fuelled planning and risk assessment meetings, our first Digital Season was born! Ten concerts filmed in the RSNO Studio with COVID-19 secure measures in place, featuring many of the guest artists and music originally programmed for our live Season. Thank you to our wonderful audiences and partners for supporting us in this new venture - we couldn't have done it without you!

October 2020 - Adventures with Tara

Tara the Tugboat set sail to nurseries, schools and families across the country this month! A great introduction to classical music for early years children, the free 30-minute concert features mermaids, pirates and songs to singalong to - we had lots of fun making this show!

November 2020 - It's a Hit!

The reviews are in for the first of our Digital Season concerts and it's safe to say that both audience and critics love it! Thank you to everyone who sent a lovely message - here are a few of our favourites:

"Exceptionally good" The Scotsman
"Masterful direction" Bachtrack
"Impressive unity" The Times
"Practically perfect in every way" Sue on our streaming site
"This is one of the finest performances of Mendelssohn's Reformation Symphony I have heard" Alan on Facebook
"A wonderful concert - an absolute joy to listen to" Sharon on our streaming site

December 2020 - Some Festive Cheer

Although we couldn't hold our popular Christmas concerts featuring The Snowman this year, we did want to bring some festive cheer to families across the country. The Orchestra, Children's Classic Concerts and the RSNO Junior Chorus were delighted to perform a free online Christmas concert packed full of seasonal singalongs, letter writing to Santa and a virtual trip to Lapland!

© Royal Scottish National Orchestra 2021