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The Royal Scottish National Orchestra

In the decades since its founding, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra has earned a reputation as a distinguished ensemble with an extensive concert schedule, wide-ranging repertoire, and a significant representation on recordings. In 2021, the orchestra was heard on the album Xiaogang Ye: Winter, as well as a recording of Mozart Concertos, backing Francesca Dego. The Royal Scottish National Orchestra is the direct descendant of the Scottish Orchestra, founded in Glasgow in 1891. Throughout its first 40 years, the Scottish Orchestra had a series of principal conductors, beginning with George Henschel from 1893 until 1895. In 1933, while the orchestra -- along with the rest of the world -- was facing financial difficulties, subscribers and patrons kept the ensemble afloat. That year, John Barbirolli assumed the post of principal conductor; since that time, the orchestra has been helmed by many well-known conductors, including George Szell, Walter Süsskind, and Alexander Gibson (the first Scot to lead the ensemble and the longest-tenured), among others. Under Süsskind's leadership, with the establishment of the Scottish National Orchestra Society with monies from several Scottish cities, the Scottish Orchestra became a permanent ensemble, changing its name to the Scottish National Orchestra in 1950. During its early years, the orchestra played its Glasgow concerts in the acoustically wonderful St. Andrew's Hall. From the time the hall was destroyed by fire in 1962, the Scottish National Orchestra played in a series of venues of varying suitability. In 1977, during Gibson's tenure, Queen Elizabeth II granted the orchestra royal patronage; Gibson also earned his knighthood that year during the Queen's Silver Jubilee and Birthday Honours. The redesign of the Trinity Church on Claremont Street in 1979 gave the Scottish National Orchestra a new home: Henry Wood Hall. In 1991, the orchestra changed its name to the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, affirming its royal patronage. It was briefly named the Royal Scottish Orchestra but reverted to its present name in 1992. While the orchestra boasts a wide-ranging repertoire, it has been singled out for its recordings of Bruckner, Barber, and 20th century British composers like Bax, MacMillan, and Holst. It has also earned a particular reputation for recorded performances of film scores, including a Gramophone Award in 1997 for its recording of Bernard Herrmann's score to Vertigo. In 2015, the orchestra moved to its current home, the RSNO Centre at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Neeme Järvi (principal conductor from 1984 until 1988) is the orchestra's conductor laureate, and Alexander Lazarev (principal conductor from 1997 until 2005) is conductor emeritus. Following a six-year stint as principal guest conductor, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra appointed Thomas Søndergård its music director, effective in 2018. In 2021, the orchestra was heard on a collection of works by Xiaogang Ye on BIS and, under Roger Norrington, backed Francesca Dego on a Chandos recording of Mozart Concertos.
© TiVo Staff /TiVo


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