Lockdown Sparks Trans-Atlantic Composition from RSNO Work Experience

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra has announced the premiere of a youth-led composition project created during lockdown by a group of young people from across Scotland, and a composer in the USA.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions the RSNO’s annual ‘Takeover’ work experience programme looked like it could not go ahead, but the organisation’s Learning and Engagement team moved quickly to adapt the experience to be carried out online.

Over 8 weeks a group of 22 young people from all over Scotland have been working with American composer, Nathan Hall, to create music and art together. The group has used video conferencing and email to communicate and share ideas across continents and time zones.

The result of the collaborative work is a composition called Going Places, which premieres at 7pm on Tuesday 16 June across the RSNO’s YouTube and Facebook channels. The piece is a multimedia pre-recorded performance by RSNO musicians and Takeover participants. The work blends music composition with spoken-word performances in multiple languages including British Sign Language, and incorporates visual effects.

As well as adapted composition and performance activities, young people participating in Takeover 2020 had the opportunity to gain experience in marketing and press activity working on their own social media and marketing campaigns, with the support of RSNO staff. Participants, including Emily Manson from Aberdeen, were also tasked with creating a challenge for the popular #RSNOChallenge on social media.

Head of Learning & Engagement at the RSNO, Laura Baxter, said: “We are so excited to be premiering Going Places and cannot wait to share this unique and brilliant composition with the world. This work represents what it has meant to be a young person living in lockdown in Scotland and expresses how this has impacted them. We have been so lucky to have Nathan Hall, a composer and musician based in Colorado in the US, working with this group across continents and of course across different time zones to create a truly special artwork.

“Going Places will take you on a journey through music at a time of course where most of us are unable to travel, and not allowed to connect in physical spaces as we usually would. The young people involved in this project took a great leap of faith with us and I am truly moved by the optimism, generosity and hope that they express in this piece - and the fun too!”

Composer, Nathan Hall, said: “I've composed collaborative music before, and have made multimedia performances, but never has one of my collaborations looked quite like this! Even though I won't be leaving my house, I jumped at the chance to work on an international project, meet new musicians, and work with young people who want to explore many facets of music-making and creativity."

17-year-old Edinburgh resident Jacob Wood, said that “It has been a really exciting and unique opportunity.  This adventure has allowed me to explore new musical avenues and gain experience in new techniques. I have expanded my knowledge during the lockdown where I am hoping to share it with my peers on return to school.  It is something that I look forward to doing each week, and I have been glad of the distraction.”

Emily Manson, 18, from Aberdeen said: "Coming up with a game for the RSNO Challenge was a really fun part of the Going Places project. It's a great feeling to know that we have created something that can be played by families around Scotland, and I hope people in Aberdeen will take part and enjoy it. The creative experience of the Going Places project has allowed me to meet new people from all over Scotland and create music with them, as well as working with an international composer! It has given me a different challenge during lockdown and I have had the opportunity to try things I have never done before."

Going Places will premiere on Tuesday June 16 at 7pm BST and is available to watch on the RSNO YouTube and Facebook pages.