Nicola Benedetti and James MacMillan join BBC SSO tour of India to mark 2014 Commonwealth Games

We are thrilled to be celebrating the Commonwealth Games with such an exciting and ambitious programme of events celebrating and sharing the wonderful musical culture of both Scotland and India."Gavin Reid, Director, BBC SSO
Date: 03.10.2013     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 18.12
Category: Scotland; Orchestras
Violinist Nicola Benedetti and composer James MacMillan will join the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland on their first tour of India next year.

The visit, in partnership with the British Council, is the centrepiece of the orchestra’s activities leading up to the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Other major events include: a Celtic Connections concert celebrating AR Rahman, the multi-award-winning Bollywood composer and recording artist, best known to Western audiences for his music in Slumdog Millionaire; a Schools’ Concert on 11 October 2013 to be streamed across the globe; and a special Commonwealth Day Concert, broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.

Nicola Benedetti - who has just won the Classical Brit Award for Best Female Artist for the second time - will be the soloist and James MacMillan the conductor for the three public concerts in Chennai (29 March), New Delhi (2 April) and Mumbai (6 April). In addition, they will join the BBC SSO and the RCS in each of the cities for schools concerts and workshops to be presented by the music education expert Paul Rissmann.

Nicola Benedetti said: “This will be my very first trip to India and I am so excited. It’s a highlight of my coming year because as well as playing some wonderful concerts, the orchestra and I will be staying in each of the cities for a few days, giving workshops and getting involved with the local communities. This is an element of music making I have dedicated so much time to and I'm thrilled to be joining other organisations equally serious about exposing this music to all parts of a community, not just to the folk who can afford to attend the concerts."

Gavin Reid, Director of the BBC SSO, said: “We are thrilled to be celebrating the Commonwealth Games with such an exciting and ambitious programme of events celebrating and sharing the wonderful musical culture of both Scotland and India. With Nicola Benedetti, James MacMillan, Paul Rissmann and students from the Royal Conservatoire, the BBC presents some of the very best of Scottish contemporary music-making on an international stage, whilst with AR Rahman we welcome to Glasgow one of the most celebrated and gifted artistic figures in the world today.”

John Wallace, CBE, Principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “The tour of India is the most incredible opportunity for a group of our students from the music and the film and TV departments. Our partnership with BBC Scotland is enabling them to experience first-hand, mentored by professionals, the interface between the West and one of the most dynamic cultures in the world.

"Mumbai, with its Bollywood film studios is like a 21st century New Orleans and Hollywood rolled into one, and in Chennai, they will also be collaborating with students from the composer of the music for Slumdog Millionaire, AR Rahman's conservatory. With James Macmillan conducting and Nicola Benedetti as soloist, it does not get any better than this.”

Lloyd Anderson, Director of the British Council Scotland, said: "The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra's tour of India, accompanied by students from the Royal Conservatoire, will create a programme of groundbreaking musical collaborations in order to build stronger links between India and Scotland.

"While our historical ties are strong, this tour, through engaging with young people at every stage, will make those relationships relevant to a new generation. The British Council is delighted to have helped to bring this tour about – renewing friendships and bringing musicians and music-lovers together from different parts of the world.”

In January 2014, the BBC SSO and the Royal Conservatoire join forces again to celebrate the music of AR Rahman as part of Celtic Connections. Rahman, once voted one of Time magazine’s most influential people, has massive profile in his native country and students from his K M Music Conservatory in Chennai will join RCS students and members of the BBC SSO for an evening of his music on 30 January at the Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall.

AR Rahman said: “I’m thrilled to be part of this year’s Celtic Connections and I’m touched that there is a concert devoted to my music. It’s also very special that this gig will bring together the young musicians of the K M Conservatory from India and of the Royal Conservatoire in Scotland, celebrating the global talent and youthful energy of both our countries.”

The BBC SSO’s Commonwealth Games celebrations officially launch on Friday 11 October 2013 with a free concert for schools which will be streamed live to pupils around the world on the Commonwealth Class website.

Commonwealth Class is a special initiative, run in conjunction with the British Council, that provides teaching resources, online debates and interactive activities for schools, and marks the run-up to the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Its growing young audience already includes hundreds of schools across the globe.

Commonwealth Day 2014 (Monday 10 March) will be marked with a live concert from City Halls in which James MacMillan will conduct his own iconic work, The Confession of Isobel Gowdie, as part of a programme that celebrates composers connected with Glasgow. The concert will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.

Audiences following the Queen’s Baton Relay, which begins on 9 October at Buckingham Palace, will also get a chance to regularly hear the BBC SSO: the orchestra and its Chief Conductor, Donald Runnicles, have recorded the specially-commissioned music that accompanies the BBC’s coverage of the baton’s progress across the Commonwealth.


Friday 11 October 2013, 11.00am
Commonwealth Class Schools Concert
City Halls, Glasgow
Free, by invitation only

To be streamed live via

Thursday 30 January, 2014
Celtic Connections: A R Rhaman
With the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and students from the KM Music Conservatory and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Tickets available at 10am on Tuesday 15 October via or 0141-353 8000

Monday 10 March, 7.30pm
Commonwealth Day Concert
City Halls, Glasgow
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Danny Driver, piano
James MacMillan, conductor
Tickets available from January 2014


Saturday 29 March 2014
Sir Mutha Venkatassubba Rao Concert Hall, Chennai
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Nicola Benedetti, violin
James MacMillan, conductor

Wednesday 2 April
Siri Fort Auditorium, New Delhi
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Nicola Benedetti, violin
James MacMillan, conductor

Sunday 6 April
National Centre for the Performing Arts, Mumbai
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Nicola Benedetti, violin
James MacMillan, conductor