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Thursday 27 Nov 2014

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BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and new Chief Conductor Donald Runnicles announce 2009/2010 Concert Season

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
  • Donald Runnicles begins his tenure as Chief Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra with music by Mahler, Ravel, MacMillan, Bruckner, Beethoven and Mozart
  • Ilan Volkov becomes Principal Guest Conductor
  • Complete cycle of Martinu piano concertos and Rachmaninov Symphonies, broadcast live on BBC Radio 3
  • An international line-up of artists including Christine Brewer, Garrick Ohlsson, James Ehnes, Vassily Sinaisky, Lisa Milne, Lawrence Power, Stefan Solyom and Nicola Benedetti
  • Listen Here! four day summer festival of free music at City Halls
  • Birthday celebrations for Sir Peter Maxwell Davies at 75 and James MacMillan at 50
  • Flagship performances at BBC Proms and Edinburgh International Festival
  • Concert series in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Perth and Edinburgh
  • Broadcasts on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Television and Online

In his first season as Chief Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Donald Runnicles heads a line-up of world-renowned artists in a series of performances and broadcasts designed to showcase the orchestra's versatility and virtuosity.

The orchestra will present music at the core of the symphonic repertoire, with special projects devoted to Martinu and Rachmaninov. As one of the premiere contemporary music ensembles in the country, it will continue to present world and UK premieres and will celebrate the work of two of the world's leading composers, James MacMillan and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.

After seven years as Chief Conductor, having gained world renown for his adventurous programming and distinctive style, Ilan Volkov becomes the BBC SSO's Principal Guest Conductor.

Throughout the season the orchestra will be joined by world-class soloists including pianists Garrick Ohlsson, Angela Hewitt and Piers Lane, violinists James Ehnes and Nicola Benedetti, violist Lawrence Power, and leading sopranos Christine Brewer and Lisa Milne.

An eclectic line-up of conductors includes Vassily Sinaisky, Alexander Titov, Richard Farnes, Rory Macdonald and Associate Guest Conductor, Stefan Solyom.

Remarking on his forthcoming first season with the BBC SSO, Donald Runnicles said: "As I travel the world and work with some of the world's finest orchestras, we have one of the world's finest here in Glasgow."

Of his predecessor Ilan Volkov, he declared: "I am delighted that he will maintain his close association with the orchestra as Principal Guest Conductor. His legacy is quite extraordinary."

He added: "I feel best, and most potent, as a member of a team. When you're working with musicians at this level, and of this level, we are talking about collaborating. When the BBC Scottish is really a great team, this is perceptible and it's certainly the way I want to work. Together with Ilan, together with this great orchestra, that's an unstoppable team."

Director of the BBC SSO, Gavin Reid, said of the new season: "These are exciting times for the BBC SSO, with our new artistic team of Donald Runnicles and Ilan Volkov. This season is for us, all about presenting and performing the very best musical content for our audiences – whether that is in the concert hall or, crucially for a BBC orchestra, through our broadcasts on radio, television and online.

"Working with many different partners across the cultural spectrum, we are continuing to create unique events which excite increasingly large numbers of people. We will never stop aiming to do this and I am confident that, with Donald, Ilan and the BBC SSO working together, this year we'll go a long way to achieving our aims."

Glasgow City Halls

The BBC SSO's flagship Thursday Night Series at its home base in Glasgow City Halls comprises 15 concerts which have been divided into three distinctive collections: Maestros' Choice, Bohemian Rhapsodies and North by North-East.

Maestros' Choice is a collection of six programmes showcasing the talents of Chief Conductor Donald Runnicles and Principal Guest Conductor Ilan Volkov. These concerts include Berg's Seven Early Songs with soprano Heidi Melton, a live BBC Two Scotland broadcast of Mahler's Symphony No.1 conducted by Runnicles, and Ravel's complete Daphnis And Chloe, featuring the Edinburgh Festival Chorus.

Bohemian Rhapsodies celebrates the great tradition of Czech music in five concerts that include a complete cycle of Martinu's piano concertos, Dvorak's three most popular symphonies and Janacek's Sinfonietta. The Bohemian Rhapsodies series, which will also include a companion edition of Discovering Music, will be broadcast live at 7.00pm on BBC Radio 3. This collection will be complemented by a series of Radio 3 chamber music recitals at City Halls.

The sequence of concert themes is brought to a close with North by North-East, a quintet of performances highlighting music from the North, including Rachmaninov's three Symphonies – also live at 7.00pm on Radio 3 – and Symphonic Dances, Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony and Sibelius's Violin Concerto with popular Scottish soloist Nicola Benedetti.

Preludes and Codas: before every Thursday Night Series concert, eminent conductors, soloists and guests will discuss topics relevant to the programme in a pre-concert Prelude. Prelude guests include Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Nicola Benedetti, Christine Brewer, and the Controller of BBC Scotland, Ken MacQuarrie. Each Thursday Night Series concerts will also include a post-concert Coda, presenting guest soloists in a short recital.

The orchestra will continue its series of daytime concerts and broadcasts for Radio 3. The 200th anniversary of the birth of Schumann is celebrated in three Afternoon Performance concerts. The orchestra will continue to present editions of Radio 3's Discovering Music and Hear And Now programmes, a live broadcast of the drive-time show In Tune, editions of Classics Unwrapped for BBC Radio Scotland as well as live television broadcasts for BBC Two Scotland and BBC Four.

New Music

The orchestra continues to be Scotland's leading supporter of new music. It will be a key participant in the celebrations of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies' 75th birthday, climaxing with a concert performance of his opera Taverner, conducted by Martyn Brabbins. The orchestra and Ilan Volkov will also give the world premiere of a new BBC Commission by Max.

To celebrate James MacMillan's 50th birthday year, the orchestra will perform several of his key works including The Confession Of Isobel Gowdie, premiered by the BBC SSO in 1990, and the Scottish premiere of an orchestral suite from his opera The Sacrifice. Also, the BBC SSO present a Radio 3 Hear And Now Composer Portrait of MacMillan in the Old Fruitmarket, featuring the composer as musical dramatist.

The orchestra is once again a participant in Sound, North-East Scotland's contemporary music festival, and continues its support for emerging composers in the Aberdeen Music Prize.

At the 2009 BBC Proms the orchestra will perform the World Premiere of Unsuk Chin's Cello Concerto and the UK Premiere of Philip Glass's A Toltec Symphony. As part of the Listen Here! weekend in June 2009, it will present new music by Scottish composers including David Horne and James Clapperton.

For Radio 3's Hear And Now, Ilan Volkov curates a programme exploring the music of Richard Ayres and Morton Feldman. Conductor Stefan Solyom leads the orchestra in the UK premiere of Benjamin Staern's Jubilate. In May the orchestra will present a Hear And Now composer portrait of the young German modernist, Matthias Pintscher.

This year has already seen the orchestra receive its second Gramophone Award for Best Contemporary Recording in music by Jonathan Harvey and its collaboration with IRCAM has resulted in a nomination in the Festivals category at the 2009 Royal Philharmonic Society Awards to be announced in May.

Listen Here!

From 18 to 21 June 2009, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra presents the second annual Listen Here!, a weekend festival of free concerts and music-making events in the orchestra's home at Glasgow City Halls.

Listen Here! covers the full range of the BBC SSO's output, from core classics to new music, and this year will feature performances from renowned Scottish pianist Steven Osborne. Amateur singers will be given the chance to sing choruses from Haydn's oratorio The Creation alongside the orchestra and members of the BBC Singers.

Across Scotland

The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra will present a full season of six concerts at the Music Hall in Aberdeen, with Donald Runnicles leading three of the orchestra's programmes there plus symphonies by Mahler, Elgar, Beethoven and Rachmaninov.

As well as appearances at the Edinburgh International Festival, the BBC SSO and Donald Runnicles perform two flagship concerts in the Usher Hall in October and March.

The orchestra will also perform in Inverness, Ayr, and Haddington and, once again, joins forces with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Royal Scottish National Orchestra to present the Scottish Orchestras Series at Perth Concert Hall.

In addition the orchestra will perform in Leeds as part of the city's International Concert Series.

Edinburgh International Festival 2009

The BBC SSO continues its close association with the Edinburgh International Festival with two performances at the Usher Hall. Donald Runnicles will conduct Brahms' Double Concerto, and Richard Strauss' Don Quixote, and the orchestra will give a concert performance of Verdi's opera Macbeth, conducted by David Robertson.

BBC Proms 2009

At the BBC Proms Donald Runnicles will conduct Strauss's gargantuan tone poem Symphonia Domestica, and John Adams' 1996 opus Slonimsky's Earbox.

Ilan Volkov's tenure as Chief Conductor culminates with two landmark Proms concerts which include Stravinsky's The Rite Of Spring to be broadcast live on BBC Four and Beethoven's Choral Symphony, also scheduled for broadcast on BBC Four. Digital viewers of the Rite Of Spring Prom will be able to press the red button to view "Maestro Cam" to see a close-up of the conductor and hear expert commentary during the performance.

The BBC SSO is the backbone of Proms in the Park in Scotland, the pan-UK celebration of the Last Night Of The Proms, which once again comes from Glasgow Green, and plays annually to a home crowd of up to 20,000 people.

Learning and Outreach

The BBC SSO is the main performance partner in the inspirational social and orchestral learning programme, Sistema Scotland. Known in the community as Big Noise, Sistema Scotland brings the distinctive methodology and philosophy of Venezuela's El Sistema to the Raploch area of Stirling in this pilot initiative.

The BBC SSO continues its commitment to lifelong learning and participation with initiatives which allow performers of all ages to play alongside members of the orchestra: The Merchant Sinfonia is a thriving community orchestra based at City Halls, with sections led by members of the BBC SSO.

In addition, in June the BBC SSO will present a week of concerts entitled Our Planet, a unique multimedia event designed specifically for children and families, combining music and science. Featuring BAFTA award-winning visuals from the BBC's Natural History Unit, and music by composers including Beethoven, Holst and Vaughan Williams, Our Planet is presented by CBBC's Kirsten O'Brien, and BBC Scotland's weather forecaster, Heather Reid.


The BBC SSO continues to be an integral part of BBC Scotland's broadcast output, contributing programmes to Radio 3, including live performances from Glasgow City Halls, concerts from the BBC Proms and Edinburgh International Festival.

The orchestra's appearances on BBC TV will include Donald Runnicles' performance of Mahler's Symphony No.1 on BBC Two Scotland on 8 October, and Ilan Volkov's performance of The Rite Of Spring and Beethoven's Choral Symphony at the Proms on BBC Four on 13 August and 11 September, respectively. These will be available to download via the BBC iPlayer for seven days after broadcast, as are all its performances on Radio 3 and Radio Scotland.

As part of Radio 3's ongoing Visualisation project, selected performances in the season will be filmed and made available for audiences to experience online. This is a development of the BBC SSO's drive to bring the unique content it provides to audiences in a range of ways and on multiple platforms.

The BBC SSO will again contribute the soundtrack to the successful BBC One programme A History Of Scotland, in a second series scheduled for broadcast across the UK from November 2009.

The popular Christmas At The Movies concert for Radio Scotland will once again be conducted by world renowned authority on classic film scores, John Wilson, and the orchestra will continue its successful commercial relationship with British-based Hyperion Records.


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