It's a busy time for the RSNO and, with the joint launch of our new Season and our fantastic new website, we thought: what better for the first blog than a backstage pass into our 2012:13 Season subscriber's event at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.
As Marketing and Development Assistant, I have watched both of these significant events come to fruition over the past months. Tonight is a really exciting evening as this is the first time many special friends and supporters of the Orchestra will meet Peter Oundjian, the RSNO's new Music Director. He's been with us for a couple of days and has already been recording with the musicians, has met the RSNO board and members of the press, and been on a whirl-wind tour of some of Scotland's most beautiful scenery. Now it's the audience's turn, in what promises to be one of the highlights of our exclusive subscriber calendar – here we go!
A fantastic turn out! The evening begins with a short video of Season highlights before RSNO Chief Executive, Mick Elliott, takes to the stage to share some of the treats we can find in 2012:13 and to introduce the two new members of the RSNO artistic team, Music Director Peter Oundjian and Principal Guest Conductor Thomas Søndergård. From the audience's reaction, Orff's Carmina Burana, one of our Choral Classics in November and, of course, RSNO favourite John Lill who is to perform Grieg's Piano Concerto will really draw a crowd.
RSNO Principal Cello Aleksei Kiseliov is welcomed to the stage to perform the first movement of Dvořák's Cello Concerto. He absolutely wows the crowd and deserves his applause, a truly exceptional musician! In next season's penultimate concert, conducted by Thomas Søndergård, Norwegian cellist Truls Mørk will perform the entire work with the Orchestra.
And now the moment everybody has been waiting for. Peter enters the stage and is joined by Anne-Marie Minhall from Classic FM for an intimate conversation – in front of all the subscribers!
As the conversation gets going it is clear that Peter is a very intelligent and charismatic new addition to the team – no wonder the Orchestra has grown so fond of him during his guest appearances. Although obviously fond of his years as a violinist, it seems that Peter was destined for a career in conducting. From a childhood encounter with Benjamin Britten (who visited his choir and subsequently requested to work with them in a number of projects) to the incredible experience, in Peter's Julliard days, when the late Maestro Herbert von Karajan invited Peter, then the concertmaster of the Julliard Orchestra, to conduct in his place in front of a crowd full of New York's musical elite who were there to watch Karajan! Karajan even covered the music as Peter conducted – showing the faith he had in Peter's knowledge and understanding of the music and his ability as a conductor. A true honour.
As the questioning turns to Peter's plans for the RSNO and his experience so far, he is full of fondness and affection for his new orchestra. He comments that the Orchestra has 'special generosity and warmth' and 'respect for the style and the music they are performing'. He also tells us that he has big plans for developing the important younger audience group. He speaks highly of our Naked Classics series and joins in the audience's laughter at the prospect of dissecting and performing Wagner's Ring in one evening! (We will be turning to the lighter de Vlieger Orchestral Adventure adaptation in our final Naked Classics concert of the 2012:13 Season.) Peter remembers the first time he conducted the RSNO, in Britten's Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes, and is delighted to announce that he will perform the piece again in his second concert as Music Director. He speaks passionately of the work of his friend John Adams, whose work features in both Peter's American Festival concerts, and also of Shostakovich. The composer is already an RSNO favourite and Peter is keen to continue this relationship. He opens the Season with Shostakovich's Eleventh Symphony which he describes as his 'most engaging work' and 'one of the most powerful experiences in music'. There is no doubt that Peter has put plently of consideration into his opening Season and that audiences are definitely in for a treat!
Following tremendous applause for Peter and Anne-Marie, we are lead down to the Exhibition Hall for a glass of wine and so everyone can get their coveted Season Brochure. This is the first glimpse that anyone has had at the brochure and that's really important to many people here. There's no messing about – people are requesting extra brochures for friends and family and huddling in corners to plot and plan their concerts!
Following a quick chat with tonight's guests I have received a really positive response to the event and to Peter particularly. One subscriber mentioned her apprehension as someone replacing the beloved Stéphane but thought Peter was fantastic and said she was very impressed by him. Another commented on Peter's ability to continue Stéphane's rapport and relationship with the audiences. Many more commented on their favourites of next Season, with Shostakovich's Symphony No11 and Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez both highly anticipated. Our New Home project is also a talking point as never-before-seen images have been placed in the centre of the room. As the crowds move out I catch some final thoughts for the night. All our guests seem to have really valued the event and I'm looking forward to seeing many of them again next Season. Some I've spoken to tonight have been subscribers for years and were ready to tick every concert when they arrived; others were newer to the game and plan to book their tickets early to get a discount.
It's events like this when I really love working for an orchestra – seeing many people brought together by an appreciation of music. And how lucky we are to have access to the talent and repertoire that I had the chance to explore tonight. Here's to another successful year for the RSNO!
Posted by Clare Campbell - Marketing and Development Assistant