The Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) will embark on a six-concert tour of Europe this April, with performances in Germany, Holland and Poland. The tour will see the Orchestra’s first live concerts abroad since January 2020.

Led by the RSNO’s Music Director Thomas Søndergård [pictured], the Orchestra will perform with renowned soloists Midori and Lise de la Salle.

The opening programme includes Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony and Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, as the Orchestra is joined by Midori for concerts in Coesfeld (Saturday 2 April) and Erlangen (Sunday 3 April). Later, pianist Lise de la Salle joins the tour for concerts in Bielefeld (Tuesday 5 April), Eindhoven (Wednesday 6 April), Wiesbaden (Friday 8 April) and Katowice (Saturday 9 April) with repertoire including music by two of Britain’s most celebrated composers, Elgar and Walton, alongside a Rachmaninov piano classic.

The European Tour will be the RSNO’s first overseas engagement since the start of the pandemic.  Ensuring that the concert in Katowice goes ahead has been incredibly important to all at the RSNO, as both a recognition of the great connections between Poland and Scotland, and also to honour the current efforts in Poland to accommodate those displaced by the conflict in Ukraine. 

The RSNO’s 2020:21 Season featured Polska Scotland, a series of concerts celebrating the rich cultural history shared by Poland and Scotland. The series initially included a reciprocal tour with the Polish National Radio Orchestra due to perform in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Perth and the RSNO to travel to Poland. As the pandemic put a halt to any tour plans, the RSNO and the Adam Mickiewicz Institute responded quickly and delivered a series of digital concerts and interview features, with music by some of the most important Polish composers and starring esteemed musicians including Nicola Benedetti and Benjamin Grosvenor. This long-awaited live performance next month will be a chance to reflect on and celebrate the enduring friendship between the two nations.

The RSNO has kept Russian music in its Season programmes, acknowledging the struggle that many in Russia have faced over centuries, and that those protesting the conflict continue to face today. Rachmaninov, a Russian who celebrated Ukrainian culture, was one of the founders of the Kyiv Conservatory alongside Tchaikovsky, who himself was posthumously censored by Putin’s government for his sexuality. Both composers have enduring links to Ukraine and in performing some of their most recognisable music throughout the tour the Orchestra will express its continued solidarity to the Ukrainians and Russians unwillingly caught in conflict.

The RSNO has endeavoured to maintain a connection with its international audiences over the last two years with a series of Digital Seasons. Regular digital concerts have continued since live performances have resumed in Scotland, with international audiences tuning in to watch Scotland’s National Orchestra.

RSNO Chief Executive Alistair Mackie said: “When we started planning this tour we could never have envisaged the changes in the world that we now have to navigate. It is always an honour to perform in concert halls across the world and the uncertainties faced in recent times have definitely given greater poignancy to this tour. We are extremely grateful to be in the position to perform two fantastic programmes with soloists Midori and Lise de la Salle and hope that the music we bring to Europe offers time to reflect and optimism for the future.”

RSNO Music Director Thomas Søndergård said: “It is a privilege to travel with the RSNO and perform as ambassadors for Scotland and we are delighted to be able to do so once again. Music has an amazing power to bring people together and in these uncertain times I look forward to sharing this powerful repertoire with audiences in Europe.”  

Scottish Government Minister for Culture Neil Gray said: “We’re delighted to be supporting the RSNO’s first European tour in two years following the Covid-restrictions. Given the close ties Scotland has with Poland, I’m particularly pleased to see the orchestra will be performing in Katowice to honour the heroic efforts of the Polish people in welcoming refugees from Ukraine. The RSNO is a world-class orchestra and their return to touring means they can once again share their stunning performances with live audiences in Europe.”

The RSNO’s European Tour 2022 is supported by the Scottish Government.