RSNO and Thomas Søndergård announce three-year contract extension for Music Director at launch of Spring/Summer Digital Season - Royal Scottish National Orchestra
RSNO and Thomas Søndergård announce three-year contract extension for Music Director at launch of Spring/Summer Digital Season

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RSNO and Thomas Søndergård announce three-year contract extension for Music Director at launch of Spring/Summer Digital Season Posted Thu 18 February 2021

RSNO and Thomas Søndergård announce three-year contract extension for Music Director at launch of Spring/Summer Digital Season

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra presents Spring/Summer Digital Season April – June

  • RSNO and Thomas Søndergård announce three-year contract extension for Music Director
  • Season opens and closes with Nicola Benedetti playing Szymanowski Violin Concertos No1 and No2, conducted by both Thomas Søndergård and Elim Chan respectively
  • Diapason d’Or winner Benjamin Grosvenor plays Chopin Piano Concerto No1 conducted by Elim Chan
  • Continued celebration of composing talent in Scotland with Scotch Snaps series
  • Polish music celebrated in Polska Scotland series
  • Ticket pricing is even more accessible

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra has launched a Spring/Summer Digital Season of nine brand new concerts to be enjoyed safely at home from April to June 2021. The RSNO also announces that Music Director Thomas Søndergård has extended his contact for three years to remain with the Orchestra until Autumn 2024.

The new Spring/Summer series follows the success of the first RSNO Digital Season launched in October 2020 and returns with orchestral and chamber performances, more accessible pricing, plus a host of popular guest artists and visiting conductors.

The RSNO’s first Digital Season has been a great success for the organisation with more than 15,750 views and audiences tuning in from the UK as well as from North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Chief Executive of the RSNO, Alistair Mackie, said: “We are thrilled to confirm our Music Director Thomas Søndergård is extending his contract to remain with the RSNO, and are eagerly anticipating his return to Scotland for the opening concert of our Spring/Summer Digital Season featuring Nicola Benedetti.

“We are grateful to have found a way to bring music into homes during an extraordinary year for us all. This spring we are back with bigger and bolder orchestral programmes as well as some beautiful chamber music concerts, and world-class guest artists.

“We have learned a lot from our first Digital Season, and as many of our audiences will know we often had to move quickly and adapt to travel and working conditions that changed with very little notice. I want to thank our audiences for the support they have shown us during this time. It is a privilege to share the news of these new Spring/Summer Digital Season programmes with you and I cannot wait to share them with you from April.”

Spring-Summer Digital Season Programme

Director of Concerts and Engagement Bill Chandler said: “This Spring/Summer Digital Season builds on the success of our first series of digital concerts, whilst remaining true to our key programming ambitions of playing with world-class guest artists and producing high quality performances for audiences.

“We are continuing to celebrate Scottish talent with our Scotch Snaps series and are exploring our international connections and Polish music with our Polska Scotland concerts. As well as showcasing plenty of our own talent within the RSNO ranks, we are delighted to welcome world-class guest artists this Season. Nicola Benedetti opens and closes the Spring/Summer Digital Season with two Szymanowski performances, the latter of which will be the first time Nicola has worked with conductor Elim Chan.

“We are thrilled to welcome Benjamin Grosvenor to perform Chopin’s Piano Concerto No1, conducted by Elim Chan. Many of our audiences will know that Benjamin’s recording of that piece with Elim and the RSNO last year has been a huge success, winning awards from Diapason d’Or, Gramophone, and featuring in the New York Times top 25 classical recordings 2020.

“In addition, we will continue to have online discussions and events relating to the Spring/Summer Digital Season programming, including our popular RSNO Chatinée series where we delve into and explore the music and themes of the concerts.”

Thomas Søndergård, Music Director

Thomas Søndergård will open the Spring/Summer Digital Season, as he confirms his three-year extension as Music Director of the RSNO. In a concert celebrating Polish Master Karol Szymanowski, Søndergård is reunited with Nicola Benedetti for the first time since the RSNO European tour in January 2020.

RSNO Music Director Thomas Søndergård said: “I am excited to announce my time as Music Director of this wonderful Orchestra is continuing. I cannot wait to open our Spring/Summer Digital Season with my friends in Scotland.

“It is incredible to think that little over a year ago myself and the full RSNO Orchestra were touring Europe with Nicola Benedetti, performing in sold-out venues, and experiencing standing ovations night after night. We could not have imagined the experiences of the past year were waiting just around the corner.

“I hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that we are coming out of the other side of this pandemic. The past year has been difficult for all of us, and sadly tragic for so many people. Music is our way of expressing and sharing our moments of grief and frustration, but also the moments of happiness and hope that help get us through these extraordinary times. I look forward to enjoying the Spring/Summer Digital Season with you all and thank you for your support.”

Elim Chan, Principal Guest Conductor

The RSNO welcomes back Principal Guest Conductor Elim Chan. The penultimate Spring/Summer concert is a highly anticipated reunion of Chan with pianist Benjamin Grosvenor for a performance of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No1, their recording of which was a major international success following the record’s release last year.  The series finale will mark the first occasion that Chan will work with Grammy-award winning Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti.

RSNO Talent

Principal Clarinet Timothy Orpen is joined by RSNO colleagues for a trio of pieces showcasing the clarinet on 23 April.

Leader Maya Iwabuchi plays Barber’s Violin Concerto in a concert recommended by Classic FM on 30 April.

Principal Cello Aleksei Kiseliov performs on 7 May with a programme featuring Beethoven, Strauss, and Dvořák’s Silent Woods for Cello and Piano featuring Alasdair Beatson.

Principal Oboe Adrian Wilson and Associate Leader Lena Zeliszewska are joined by the RSNO Chamber Ensemble in Polish Reflections, as part of the Polska Scotland series.

Guest Artists

Nicola Benedetti is reunited with the RSNO for the first time since their European tour in January 2020 to play two concerts featuring Szymanowski’s Violin Concerto No1 and No2.

Paul Lewis, dubbed ‘the finest British pianist for generations,’ joins the RSNO for Mozart’s Piano Concerto No12 K414 for piano and string quintet.

Marta Gardolińska makes her RSNO debut to conduct a concert showcasing Polish music, recommended by Classic FM.

Soprano Susanna Hurrell and Baritone Marcus Farnsworth sing Schubert’s Six Songs for Voice and Orchestra conducted by Kevin John Edusei.

Benjamin Grosvenor and Elim Chan return to the RSNO for the first time since recording Grosvenor’s award-winning Chopin Piano Concerto album.

Familiar Settings Back On Screen

Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall will feature as the venue for many of the Spring/Summer Digital Season to accommodate bigger orchestral formations. The Orchestra returns to work this March continuing to rehearse and record performances following strict COVID-19 health and safety protocols. All new travel and quarantine requirements are also factored into plans so guest artists can continue to be a part of this new Season. Additional precautions have been brought into day-to-day work for RSNO musicians and supporting staff, including routine COVID-19 testing of players and guest artists, to ensure concerts can be safely recorded and shared with audiences during these challenging times.

Polska Scotland

The RSNO’s exploration and celebration of Polish music and composers continues to be a strong part of programming in this Spring/Summer Digital Season. Guest artists and RSNO musicians explore lesser known music from Poland as well as popular works from the country’s composers. The Polska Scotland series is supported by the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Edinburgh and the Adam Mickiewicz Institute as part of the international cultural programme marking the centenary of Poland’s regained independence. Financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland as part of the multi-annual NIEPODLEGŁA programme 2017-2022.

Scotch Snaps

Shining a light on composing talent in and from Scotland continues with the RSNO this spring. Three programmes include works by three Scottish composers: Michael J Murray’s Psycho-Scherzo written for oboe, Craig Armstrong’s compositions Stac Lee ‘Dawn’ and ‘Dusk,’ and Christopher Duncan’s composition Stac Dona. The RSNO is grateful to the John Ellerman Foundation for kindly supporting the RSNO Scotch Snaps series.

Classic FM Recommends

The RSNO is proud to be Classic FM’s orchestra in Scotland. Four concerts within the Spring/Summer Digital Season are recommended by Classic FM. They are: Paul Lewis Plays Mozart – Friday 23 April 2021: 7.30pm Scotch Snaps; Barber Violin Concerto – Friday 30 April 2021: 7.30pm Scotch Snaps; Dvořák Symphony No7 – Friday 14 May 2021: 7.30pm Polska Scotland; and Benjamin Grosvenor plays Chopin – Friday 4 June 2021: 7:30pm Polska Scotland.

Accessible Tickets

As part of ambitions for the RSNO Spring/Summer Digital Season to reach more households, concession subscriptions for £27 will be available to: full-time students; young people under the age of 26; patrons who are unemployed; and patrons with disabilities. Individual concert tickets will be £3 concession.

The nine Spring/Summer Digital Season concerts are available as a subscription for just £85, or each concert may be accessed with a single ticket purchase of £10. A new Household Subscription will be introduced for £150 for those watching on the same screen with other members of their household. Individual household tickets for £20 will continue to be available.

RSNO Partnerships

The RSNO is supported by the Scottish Government and local authorities in Scotland.

Partnerships are crucial to the work of the RSNO and we aim to facilitate local, national and international partnerships with cultural, commercial, public, charitable and community organisations in order to increase and sustain the impact, reach, reputation and contribution of the Orchestra’s work.

The RSNO continues to strengthen its reputation for delivering rewarding programmes for its corporate partners and sponsors, helping to build profile, serve local communities, engage staff and customers, and generate inspiring stories.

ScotRail will continue to be the RSNO’s Principal Transport Provider, a partnership which reduces the environmental impact of the RSNO’s busy touring schedule, encourages concertgoers to take the train to concerts and supports ScotRail’s commercial activities across Scotland.

Capital Document Solutions continues its generous support of the RSNO’s photocopying and document management services. As part of this partnership Capital Document Solutions sponsors a series of concerts across RSNO seasons, helping to develop relationships with staff and clients. This partnership is now in its fourteenth year.

This year the RSNO is delighted to announce a new partnership with the Adam Mickiewicz Institute and the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Edinburgh. The Polska Scotland series is supported by the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Edinburgh and the Adam Mickiewicz Institute as part of the international cultural programme marking the centenary of Poland’s regained independence. Financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland as part of the multi-annual NIEPODLEGŁA programme 2017-2022.

The RSNO is proud to be Classic FM’s Orchestra in Scotland, with four RSNO Digital Season concerts recommended by Classic FM.

The RSNO continues in partnership with the Institut Français Écosse, an association which supports Franco-Scottish cross-cultural collaboration.

The RSNO is also delighted to continue its sponsorship with La Bonne Auberge, a partnership which supports Children’s Classic Concerts, now in its eleventh year.

The RSNO would like to thank all its sponsors, corporate partners, media and broadcast partners and project partners who make a crucial contribution to the work of the Orchestra.

Funders: The Scottish Government, Glasgow City Council, Glasgow City of Music, Adam Mickiewicz Institute, Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Edinburgh, and RSNO Foundation.

Corporate supporters: Anta, Capital Document Solutions, Contini, Dine, Gallagher, Glasgow Isio, Airport, Hampden & Co, Institut Français Écosse, Investec Wealth & Investment, La Bonne Auberge, Resource Telecom, Prestonfield, Valvona & Crolla.

Principal Media Partner: Classic FM

Broadcast Partner: BBC Radio 3

Principal Transport Provider: ScotRail

Chair Sponsors: Cadenhead’s, Mitchell’s Glengyle, Springbank Distillers Ltd,

J&A Mitchell and Co. Ltd.

The RSNO is also deeply grateful for the generosity of its individual supporters. Our Conductors’ Circle and Patrons are a vital part of our annual fundraising. As a charity, we also rely upon a wide range of generous support from Trusts and Foundations.

For more information on RSNO concerts and events, visit

All orchestral concerts will feature a socially distanced orchestra. Please note, due to the ongoing uncertainty of the current Coronavirus pandemic, the RSNO may have to change programmes and/or artists at short notice or delay a broadcast date. If a concert must be cancelled in its entirety and an alternative concert is not possible, all ticket money will be refunded.

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