Astar is Born

RSNO’s life-long musical commitment to every child born in Scotland in next 12 months

From October 2012 every child born in Scotland between 15 October 2012 and 14 October 2013 will receive a specially-created recording from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO), featuring Scottish songs, nursery rhymes and children’s favourite classical works to help new parents communicate, play and rest with their new arrivals. This CD will mark the start of an offer from the RSNO to form a relationship with these children throughout the rest of their lives.
Astar (Gaelic for journey) was recorded by the RSNO and RSNO Junior Chorus, led by new Music Director Peter Oundjian, RSNO Chorus Director of the Junior Chorus Christopher Bell and RSNO Conductor Laureate Neeme Järvi. The recording will be distributed through all 220 Registrar Offices across Scotland, introducing music into the lives of up to sixty thousand families. The CD marks the starting point of a life-long connection with Scotland’s national orchestra.
Recent studies have shown that listening to music has a positive impact on young children’s cognitive development. Listening to music can improve mood, help with communication, coordination and bonding, and supports the first step towards a life-long love of music. With support from Creative Scotland’s Year of Creative Scotland investment programme the RSNO made the recording, which was produced by British label Chandos, to be used as an opening to the Orchestra’s comprehensive music programme, which offers access at every stage in life.
RSNO Music Director Peter Oundjian:

When I was an infant my godfather gave me a tiny record player. I would place it under the family piano and put on my prized recording of Peter and the Wolf. It became my sanctuary, a place where I knew I could find joy. I have found that the power and beauty of music can truly transform lives and I seriously hope that the recipients of Astar enjoy many hours of shared pleasure to this wonderful music.

In the Year of Creative Scotland, Astar contains a variety of music for parents and their newborn babies and is purposefully divided into three sections: Wake; Play; Nap. The CD sleeve notes contain top tips for enjoying music with your newborn, fun games connected to a selection of the tracks and lyrics to some best loved nursery rhymes; Ally Bally Bee, The Little Horses, Three Craws andTwinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.
Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs:

This delightful project will encourage an early introduction to the joy of music for Scotland’s youngest children. It will help to give babies the best possible start in life, strengthen the building of parent-child bonds, and encourage families to use music to enhance learning in the home. This is entirely in line with our vision to make Scotland the best place in the world to raise children, as outlined in our new Parenting Strategy. The product of an inspired partnership between the RSNO, National Records of Scotland and the Association of Registrars of Scotland, and supported by Creative Scotland’s First in a Lifetime programme, the Astar CD will also give children their very first opportunity to experience Scotland’s rich and vibrant culture.

Iain Munro, Director of Creative Development at Creative Scotland:

Music has a powerful effect on our lives and this is an inspiring project, supported as part of our Year of Creative Scotland programme, creating First in a Lifetime opportunities to connect babies and parents with the wonderful music and singing of the RSNO and Junior Chorus. Listening to music at an early age can aid development and enhance wellbeing, communications and creativity. We want creativity to touch the lives of as many people in Scotland as possible, especially those who would not normally have access to it, and Astar is helping do just that.

Performed by the RSNO and RSNO Junior Chorus, with Music Director Peter Oundjian and pianist Susan Tomes, the repertoire reflects the versatility of a symphony orchestra – what will be a new experience for many families. Some of Scotland’s most loved tunes and songs including The Skye Boat Song, Eightsome Reels and Three Craws Sat Upon a Wa’ are presented alongside classics from Tchaikovsky, Mozart and Debussy.
Award-winning Scottish pianist Susan Tomes said of her contribution to Astar:

I’m very excited about my involvement in this lovely, idealistic project to bring classical music to young children in Scotland. Babies don’t have any preconceptions about music, and are open to anything which appeals to them. I believe that if they encounter beautiful, emotionally generous music at the start of their lives, it will be the basis of a long friendship. A lot of the classical music I happened to hear when I was little is still precious to me, and I’m happy to think that the music on this disc will play a part in the early memories of today’s children.

When new families receive Astar it will mark the start of a life-long musical journey. In addition to the RSNO’s comprehensive programme for young people, from tailored performances for pre-school children Monster Music to its primary and secondary schools programmes Mega and Maestro Music, as well as its association with Children’s Classic Concerts, the RSNO plans to support parents and carers in building music and creativity into their everyday lives, and to nurture a life-long love of music for themselves, their baby and the rest of their family. Opportunities for babies and their parents to participate in follow-on workshops are being planned across the country from 2013 and all will be invited to sign up to the Orchestra’s Under 5s initiative and to receive communications, invitations and opportunities from the RSNO throughout their lives.