• In the concert halls, online and in the community, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO) curates musical experiences for audiences across Scotland and beyond and unveils its most ambitious community project to date with the launch of a five-year intergenerational and cross-artform Residency in Craigmillar, Edinburgh
  • 27 performances in five Scottish towns and cities herald the return of live music-making for Scotland’s renowned chamber orchestra whilst it continues to reach beyond the concert hall through online broadcasts
  • Principal Conductor Maxim Emelyanychev opens the season and returns for two further programmes whilst guest artists include Benjamin Appl, Nicola Benedetti, Joana Carneiro, Lukas Geniušas, Sir James MacMillan, SCO Conductor Emeritus Joseph Swensen, Peter Whelan and Mark Wigglesworth
  • Premieres of new works by SCO Associate Composer Anna Clyne, Jay Capperauld, Peter Eötvös and Nigel Shore sit alongside music by Beethoven, Britten, Mahler, Mozart, Schoenberg & Wagner
  • The second half of the 2021/22 season (Jan – Jun 2022) will be announced this autumn

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra will make music for audiences in person and online as they return to live orchestral music-making in Scotland this autumn. The full Orchestra will tour to venues across Scotland – in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth and St Andrews whilst also launching its most ambitious community project to date in the Craigmillar area of its home city.

Gavin Reid, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra“After such a difficult and uncertain time for everyone, we’re excited to get back to performing live in venues across the country. We’re proud of the work we’ve been able to share digitally during the pandemic – and we’ll be continuing that work in the coming season – but of course, live music-making remains at the very core of what we do, and we can’t wait to experience the thrill of live performance with audiences again. We have also seen how the events of the past year have re-energised the desire for shared, creative experiences and I’m delighted that today we launch our ambitious five-year residency in Craigmillar which will see us working with a host of local partners, artists and residents to deliver a wide-ranging community programme that has collaboration and co-creation at its heart.”

A return to live music-making

The SCO celebrates the much longed-for return of live music-making in Scotland with 27 performances at venues including the Usher Hall and Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh, City Halls in Glasgow, Perth Concert Hall, Aberdeen Music Hall and Holy Trinity Church in St Andrews from September to December 2021, making it possible for audiences across the country once again to enjoy and share in the collective experience of live orchestral music.

Principal Conductor Maxim Emelyanychev launches the season with Mendelssohn’s symphonic tribute to Scotland, his Symphony No 3 ‘Scottish’, and is joined by Russian pianist Lukas Geniušas for Beethoven’s ‘Emperor’ Concerto (30 September – 2 October). In October he conducts his own arrangement of Farkas’ Five Ancient Hungarian Dances alongside the music of Leclair, Locatelli, Vivaldi and Poulenc with Russian-born violinist Dmitry Sinkovsky as soloist (7 – 8 October) before returning in December to showcase the talents of the SCO’s string and wind players in Mozart’s ‘Gran Partita’ and John Adams’ Shaker Loops. Emelyanychev is himself soloist – alongside the SCO’s Principal Flute André Cebrián and Leader Stephanie Gonley – in Bach’s Fifth Brandenburg Concerto (2 – 3 December). The SCO’s renowned Wind Soloists will also perform side-by-side with students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in November to give the UK premiere of oboist, composer and arranger Nigel Shore’s reimagining of Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier for large wind ensemble (18 – 21 November).

Austrian conductor and violinist Thomas Zehetmair leads the SCO in a programme that includes Mendelssohn, Haydn, and the UK premiere of Hungarian Peter Eötvös’ magical evocation of the Northern Lights, Aurora, performed by the SCO’s own Principal Double Bass Nikita Naumov (14 – 15 October), whilst Mark Wigglesworth performs Mozart and Shostakovich’s Fourteenth Symphony alongside soprano Elizabeth Atherton and bass Peter Rose (3 – 5 November).

The Orchestra welcomes back three long-time SCO collaborators: Sir James MacMillanJoseph Swensen and Peter Whelan. MacMillan returns to conduct Mahler, Wagner, Ives and the world premiere of a new work Death In A Nutshell by one of Scotland’s most exciting young composers, Ayrshire-born Jay Capperauld, inspired by the “godmother of forensic science”, Frances Glessner Lee (11 – 12 November). SCO Conductor Emeritus Joseph Swensen brings a richly coloured programme of music from the hothouse of Vienna at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries including Mahler’s Blumine, Benjamin Britten’s chamber reimagining of the second movement of Mahler’s Third Symphony and Alban Berg’s Kammerkonzert with German violinist Kolja Blacher and Israeli pianist Roman Rabinovich (25 – 26 November). Masterpieces from the Classical era will be directed from the fortepiano by early music expert (and former SCO Principal Bassoon) Peter Whelan including CPE Bach’s Symphony in F, Haydn’s Symphony No 102 in B flat major and two contrasting Mozart concert arias performed by renowned British soprano Anna Dennis (28 – 29 October).

Portuguese conductor Joana Carneiro makes her SCO debut with a magical weaving of movements from Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite and Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn with soprano Ana Quintans and baritone Julien van Mellaerts, creating a glittering storybook of musical fantasy (9 – 11 December) whilst Scotland’s best-loved violinist Nicola Benedetti brings the autumn season to a close with Mozart’s First Violin Concerto (15 – 17 December).

Full SCO live performance listings are available at sco.org.uk/live

Reaching audiences digitally

Building on the work it has done throughout the pandemic to connect with audiences digitally, several SCO performances will be available exclusively online and free of charge. These will include: Julia Wolfe’s percussion concerto riSE and fLY performed by Edinburgh-born percussionist Colin Currie (available from 29 September – 29 October); conductor Gregory Batsleer and children’s TV presenter Chris Jarvis take audiences on a musical adventure with dog-and-cat duo Stan and Mabel (available from 16 October – 16 November) with accompanying video resources and downloadable teaching materials; Ryan Wigglesworth conducting Butterworth’s A Shropshire Lad with German baritone Benjamin Appl, Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending with former SCO Leader Benjamin Marquise Gilmore as soloist, and the Scottish premiere of SCO Associate Composer Anna Clyne’s Stride, (available from 15 November – 15 December).

Full SCO Digital Season listings are available at sco.org.uk/digital

SCO in Craigmillar

Announced today, the SCO has launched a five-year intergenerational community residency in the Craigmillar area of Edinburgh. The Residency, which will run from August 2021 to August 2026, is the Orchestra’s most substantial community project to date, following on from its successful three-year programme in Wester Hailes in Edinburgh and building on the SCO’s commitment to encouraging collaboration and co-creation in its local community. Over the course of the Residency, the SCO and its team of professional musicians and creative learning practitioners will deliver imaginative, cross-artform workshops and performances for children, young people, families and adults to explore their musical potential and help develop their creativity. With large-scale community events planned in 2024 and 2026 involving local residents and SCO musicians, a schools‘ programme and wider community projects, the Residency is designed to bring people together through music to enhance health and well-being, to help people of all ages develop confidence and skills, and to empower residents to explore and celebrate their community and place.

The SCO in Craigmillar programme launches at the inaugural Craigmillar & Niddrie Community Festival which takes place on 14 and 15 August 2021. The Festival will bring together local residents and over 30 organisations drawn from across this multi-cultural community and is inspired by the ethos of the original Craigmillar Festival Society. Founded in 1962 by a group of pioneering local women led by Dr Helen Crummy MBE, this grassroots organisation used the arts to address a range of social problems and to create opportunities for local people, gaining an international reputation as a pioneering Community Arts festival.

Since 2020, the SCO has been part of a collaborative conversation to help re-establish a community-wide annual festival. SCO Principal Cellist Philip Higham will give three performances in response to a new exhibition by the Craigmillar-based, Syrian artist Nihad Al Turk who is the current Artist-in-Residence at the newly re-opened Craigmillar Now arts centre. Audiences will also be invited to enjoy a live performance of Sir Scallywag and the Golden Underpants, narrated by Children’s TV Presenter Chris Jarvis, and presented in partnership with Edinburgh International Festival.

The SCO in Craigmillar programme of activity for children and young people will include the Orchestra’s collaborative music-making VIBE project at Castlebrae High School; the interactive and multi-sensory Dots and Lines for nursery school pupils; Moving Music for primary school children to explore the SCO’s music through movement; and Soundmoves, a creative composition project for primary schools. In the wider community, the SCO will launch an audio-visual project Seen & Heard in partnership with Craigmillar Now arts centre; Craigmillar Voices, a vocal project for children and adults with the Venchie Children and Young People’s Project; and an intergenerational ReConnect Buddies programme with nursery-aged children and members of Caring in Craigmillar, who include people living with dementia.

The Craigmillar Residency is being supported with a £20,000 grant from the Borletti-Buitoni Trust Communities initiative and a £15,000 grant from the Scottish Government’s Youth Arts Fund through Creative Scotland. It is underpinned by support from our Creative Learning Partner Baillie Gifford and kindly supported by Scops Arts Trust, H R Creswick’s Charitable Trust, Mrs Rowena Goffin’s Charitable Trust, The Plum Trust, Cruden Foundation, The Stevenston Charitable Trust, Geraldine Kirkpatrick Charitable Trust, The Misses Barrie Charitable Trust, and those who wish to remain anonymous.

For further information visit: sco.org.uk/craigmillar

Kirsteen Davidson Kelly, Creative Learning Director, Scottish Chamber Orchestra: “The SCO is proud to be part of this community-wide journey to re-energise creative and cultural activity for residents of all ages, building on the extraordinary legacy of Community Arts in Craigmillar, most notably in the form of the ground-breaking Craigmillar Festival Society. We cannot wait to begin our collaborations with local schools and partner organisations, designed to connect this wonderfully rich and diverse community with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra over the next five years and to create unique community performances celebrating Craigmillar past, present and future!”

Ilaria Borletti Buitoni, BBT Founder: “All the organisations we support recognise the power of music to transform; to not only teach music skills that generate feelings of pride and accomplishment, but also to engender the sense of inclusion, friendship and communication that comes from engaging in music-making as a group.”

Beyond Craigmillar the SCO continues to make a significant contribution to Scottish life both on the concert platform and beyond through its award-winning Creative Learning programme. Key moments in autumn 2021 include:

  • Masterworks is the SCO’s flagship project for secondary schools which has been running since 1998. This year, the SCO presents a full online performance of riSE and fLY, a body concerto for percussion by Julia Wolfe performed by Colin Currie, alongside a suite of interactive video resources. Free to schools. Teachers can sign up now at sco.org.uk/riseandfly
  • Developed in partnership between the SCO and St Mary’s Music School, SCO Academy returns to offer free opportunities for school-aged string and percussion musicians from across Scotland to work online and in person with SCO musicians.
    For further information visit sco.org.uk/academy  
  • New Vibe is a creative music-making project, delivered in partnership with NHS Lothian Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), which exists to support young people aged 12 – 18 with a diagnosis of moderate to severe mental health problems. Free and open to young people who have an interest in any style of music and regardless of their musical experience, online taster sessions will be delivered to CAMHS staff and young people in September prior to an in-person course in Edinburgh during the October mid-term break.
    For further information visit sco.org.uk/newvibe

For more information about the SCO’s Creative Learning programme, visit sco.org.uk/creativelearning

COVID-19 Safety Measures at SCO performances in Autumn 2021

  • After listening to audience feedback and working closely with Government officials and  partner venues, the SCO have made some changes to the concert experience aiming to ensure audiences feel confident about attending this autumn.
  • For audiences’ comfort and confidence, all concerts will have physically distant, bubble seating in place.
  • For the September – December period the SCO asks that all attenders aged 18 or over (unless medically exempt) wear a face covering at all times inside venues.
  • To minimise contact the SCO has designed slightly shorter concerts with no interval.
  • Venues will be using paperless e-tickets rather than traditional printed tickets and the SCO will be producing free programmes in a digital format in advance of each concert.
  • These are temporary changes for the September – December period. The SCO will continue to be alert to changing conditions and will adjust plans in response to evolving Scottish Government and public health guidelines.

Tickets go on sale for Edinburgh (thequeenshall.net), Glasgow City Halls (glasgowconcerthalls.com) and St Andrews (byretheatre.com) concerts on Wednesday 18 August at 12pm via venue websites. Limited phones sales are available.

Tickets for Aberdeen (www.aberdeenperformingarts.com) and Perth (horsecross.co.uk) concerts go on sale on Thursday 26 August, 10am. Limited phones sales are available.

For further information on the SCO’s ticketing policy, visit sco.org.uk/autumn2021