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Maestro Runnicles extends contract with the BBC Scottish SO

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Gavin Reid BBC SSO Gavin Reid BBC SSO | 16:29 UK Time, Thursday, 29 September 2011

Photo of Donald Runnicles rehearsing the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Donald Runnicles rehearsing the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

What a week for everyone at the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra! Not content with ensuring the new concert season gets off to a flyer this evening – the Scottish premiere of James MacMillan’s monumental St John Passion, with the London Symphony Chorus, BBC Singers, baritone Mark Stone and presenter Jamie MacDougall, live on Radio 3 (and that’s just the first of three concerts this week!) – we’ve taken the opportunity of announcing that our Chief Conductor Donald Runnicles is extending his contract with us through 2015.

Many people said it was a coup for us when we first announced he was joining us a couple of years ago and rather nicely, that’s been mentioned again this week. As I said in the press release, to say I’m thrilled is something of an understatement. 

There is clearly something remarkable happening when Donald conducts this orchestra, but musical excellence is certainly not something new to the BBC SSO – through the good offices of my predecessors, this orchestra enjoys a fine reputation for picking the right players and the right conductors and there have been years of extraordinary performances. So what’s happening that is so special now?

Well for starters, Donald is one of a team of amazing conductors we have – Ilan Volkov, Andrew Manze and Matthias Pintscher – all of whom complement each other beautifully in terms of repertoire, all of whom are masters of their trade.

As far as Donald is concerned, his qualities go way beyond what you might simply call 'conducting'. They go beyond interpretative insight, wisdom and experience – although it goes without saying he has bucket loads of them all. Much more than this, he’s an enabler, a nurturer – a leader who instils the greatest trust in the musicians he’s making music with, allowing them fully to express themselves, to take the greatest musical risks – in the spirit of the Olympic ideal, to go beyond 'personal best'.

So what can we expect over the next few years? Well, without giving away all those highly guarded secrets – actually we haven’t planned it all yet – it would be surprising and perhaps a little disappointing if we didn’t continue to present the great Romantic scores and didn’t continue to invite some of the world’s greatest singers as well as instrumentalists to join us.

I may be slightly biased – forgive me – but I do think this is one of the most important partnerships in the musical world today and it’s still only Year 2 – it’s an exciting time.

Gavin Reid is Director of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra






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