The Scottish Chamber Orchestra has announced the second instalment of its 2021/22 season which will see the world-renowned orchestra connect with audiences in person, online and in communities across Scotland and beyond from January to May. Audiences will be invited on a musical adventure with a host of star soloists and conductors alongside continued digital offerings and activities for all ages and abilities as part of the SCO’s Creative Learning programme. Kicking off with a New Year Gala Concert featuring showpieces from the Strauss family conducted by the young Prague-born conductor Jiří Rožeň (1 – 3 January) the Season comes to a resplendent close with Stravinsky’s Firebird conducted by the Orchestra’s Principal Conductor, Maxim Emelyanychev (11 – 13 May). Full SCO live performance listings are available at sco.org.uk/live.

Maxim Emelyanychev & the SCO Chorus

SCO Principal Conductor Maxim Emelyanychev conducts Beethoven, Debussy, Mendelssohn, and Stravinsky and more throughout the season across fifteen performances which draw on his exceptional and varied talents as conductor, performer and arranger. Following his critically-acclaimed all-Mozart BBC Prom with the Orchestra in August, Emelyanychev conducts the composer’s Symphony No 39 and directs the Piano Concerto No 20 as soloist (24 – 26 March). He also joins SCO principals for Schubert’s ‘Trout’ Quintet (20 February) before teaming up with star soloist cellist Steven Isserlis for a programme of French music (24 & 25 February) and with pianist Benjamin Grosvenor in a concert which will see Emelyanychev conduct his own arrangement of Sweelinck’s Beati pauperes from Cantiones Sacrae (3 – 5 February). He brings Stravinsky’s Pulcinella and Haydn’s Symphony No 103 ‘Drum Roll’ as part of the Orchestra’s digital season (9 April) as well as Stravinsky’s The Firebird Suite [1945] in a concert featuring violinist Alina Ibragimova performing Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No 1 in D Major (11 – 13 May). Emelyanychev also directs a performance of Handel’s Messiah from the harpsichord with soloists Anna DennisXavier SabataAndrew Staples and Matthew Brook (31 March & 1 April). The Messiah performances mark a celebratory reunion of the SCO and SCO Chorus led by Gregory Batsleer following two years of being unable to perform together due to the pandemic. The Orchestra and Chorus will also unite for Vaughan Williams’s Flos campi and the world premiere of The Years by SCO Associate Composer Anna Clyne later in the season (5 & 6 May).

Guest soloists and conductors

A glittering array of star soloists and conductors will perform with the Orchestra in 2022 including cellist Steven Isserlis (Saint-Saëns’ Cello Concerto No 1, 24 & 25 February) and violinist Alina Ibragimova (Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No 1, 11 – 13 May). British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor also gives concerts of Liszt (Piano Concerto No 1, 3 – 5 February) with Maxim Emelyanychev and Chopin (Piano Concerto No 2, 28 & 29 April) conducted by Joana Carneiro in a programme which also includes Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 whilst Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto returns to Scotland for a three-concert residency featuring a brand new collaboration between Scottish singer-songwriter Karine Polwart and sound artist Pippa Murphy (10 & 11 March) and the UK premiere of Nico Muhly’s Violin Concerto ‘Shrink’ (16 – 18 March). Kuusisto will also give a unique performance presented in a cabaret-style at Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall featuring music by American composers Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, Caroline Shaw and Steve Reich alongside music from Kuusisto’s home country Finland framed by DJ sets from Edinburgh-based radio station EHFM (6 March). Edinburgh-born percussionist Colin Currie returns to perform Scottish composer Helen Grime’s Percussion Concerto under the baton of Clemens Schuldt (7 & 8 April) and a new concerto by Laurent Petitgirard will be premiered by oboist François Leleux (3 & 4 March). Joining the SCO for the first time, star sitar player and composer Anoushka Shankar will team up with the Orchestra for the 2022 Celtic Connections festival revisiting her father’s Concerto No 3 for sitar and orchestra (28 January) whilst Andrew Manze leads an all-British programme (5 & 6 May). Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti also makes a welcome return performing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto as part of the Orchestra’s digital Mendelssohn Weekend (21 & 22 May). Musical travelsAudiences will be taken on journeys to countries across the world this season including two stopovers in America in the company of SCO Conductor Emeritus Joseph Swensen, SCO Principal Clarinettist Maximiliano Martín and violinist Pekka Kuusisto, a French adventure with Steven Isserlis and François Leleux, a visit to Italy with violinist Lorenza Borrani and a tour of the UK with Andrew Manze. Joining the Orchestra for the first time, Florence-born Borrani directs a programme pairing the music of Haydn with her compatriot Bruno Maderna (13 & 14 January), whilst Isserlis performs Saint-Saëns’ Cello Concerto No 1 in a concert which also features Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune and Jean Françaix’s Dixtuor for wind quintet and string quintet conducted by Maxim Emelyanychev (24 & 25 February). French oboist François Leleux also leads a performance of Bizet’s L’Arlésienne, Suite No 1 and performs the world premiere of French composer Laurent Petitgirard’s Oboe Concerto (3 & 4 March). On a trip across the Atlantic, Joseph Swensen brings Milhaud’s bewitching ballet La création du monde infused with the jazz the composer encountered on the streets of Harlem with clarinettist Maximiliano Martín also performing Copland’s Clarinet Concerto written for jazz legend Benny Goodman and Bernstein’s Sonata for Clarinet and Orchestra (20 & 21 January). As part of his three-concert residency, Pekka Kuusisto performs the UK premiere of Nico Muhly’s Violin Concerto ‘Shrink’ (16 – 18 March) and champions the music of other contemporary US composers Caroline Shaw, Bryce Dessner and Missy Mazzoli (6 March). Throughout his residency Kuusisto also performs music from his home country Finland (Irla Haarla and Sauli Zinovjev, 6 March) and directs the Orchestra in works by Estonian and Swedish composers Erkki-Sven Tüür and Andrea Torrodi (10 & 11 March). Andrew Manze conducts an all-British programme featuring the music of Welsh composer Grace Williams, Britten, Vaughan Williams, a new work from Anna Clyne, and an arrangement by Manze of Dowland’s If My Complaints Could Passions Move (5 & 6 May). The music of Beethoven also weaves its way throughout the whole season with performances of four of his symphonies – Nos 1, 2, 4 and 6 – as well as chamber music and his Romance No 1.

New works

As part of his three-concert residency Pekka Kuusisto partners up with Scottish artists Karine Polwart and Pippa Murphy to perform the world premiere of their Seek the Light (SCO commission, 10 & 11 March) and also gives the UK premiere of American composer Nico Muhly’s Violin Concerto, ‘Shrink’ (16 – 18 March). Elsewhere oboist François Leleux gives the world premiere of a new oboe concerto written specially for him by French composer Laurent Petitgirard entitled SOUEN WOU K’ONG commissioned by the SCO and Swedish Chamber Orchestra (3 & 4 March) whilst a new work, The Years, by Anna Clyne,with a specially-commissioned libretto by Stephanie Fleischmann, is premiered as part of an all-British programme conducted by Andrew Manze (5 & 6 May). In her role as SCO Associate Composer, Clyne has also connected with three emerging composers as part of the SCO’s New Stories commissioning project with Electra PerivolarisGillian Walker and Georgina MacDonell Finlayson each writing a brand new piece for SCO musicians inspired by the art of storytelling. These new works receive their world premiere performances online to coincide with Scotland’s Year of Stories. The three Scottish-based composers have worked closely with Clyne, creating tales that draw on their own lives and experiences in collaboration with writer and storyteller Janis Mackay. Electra Perivolaris’ The Blurred Lines of Archipelagos tells a mythical tale tied to her dual island heritage between Scotland and Greece, combining traditional music from both cultures (7 February – 6 March). White City by Gillian Walker takes a young child’s perspective on early years in a council estate nursery in Wallacetown, Ayr (21 February – 20 March) and Georgina MacDonell Finlayson’s Do you remember when the rain came? tells tales of climate change and ecological collapse from the perspective of a Selkie, half-human, half-seal (5 March – 4 April).

Beyond the concert hall

Continuing to build on the work it has done throughout the pandemic to connect with audiences right across the world digitally, several SCO performances will be available exclusively online and free of charge. Emelyanychev conducts Stravinsky’s Pulcinella and Haydn’s Symphony No 103 ‘Drum Roll’ (9 April) and a digital Mendelssohn Weekend will feature Nicola Benedetti performing the composer’s Violin Concerto alongside three other works by the composer (21 – 22 May). The Orchestra’s New Stories commissions will also be released digitally beginning with Electra Perivolaris’s The Blurred Lines of Archipelagos (7 February – 6 March) followed by White City by Gillian Walker (21 February – 20 March) and finally Georgina MacDonell Finlayson’s Do you remember when the rain came? (5 March – 4 April). Full SCO Digital Season listings are available at sco.org.uk/digital The SCO also continues its five-year intergenerational community residency in the Greater Craigmillar area of Edinburgh. Launched in August 2021, the Orchestra’s most substantial community project to date aims to inspire people of all ages to explore and develop their musical potential and creativity. Highlights of SCO in Craigmillar in 2022 include:

  • a collaborative music-making VIBE project at Castlebrae High School.
  • 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.
  • creative composition project, Soundmoves, for primary schools.
  • 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.
  • intergenerational ReConnect Buddies programme with nursery-aged children and members of Caring in Craigmillar, who include people living with dementia.
  • For further information visit: sco.org.uk/craigmillar

Beyond the Residency, the SCO continues to make a significant contribution to Scottish life through its wider Creative Learning programme, inviting people of all ages and musical abilities to experience the joy of the Orchestra through inclusive and accessible creative workshops and performances in schools, hospitals and community venues across Scotland and online. In February each year the SCO brings the full Orchestra to families in venues across Scotland. These events offer an exciting introduction to orchestral music for young people, with engaging audience interaction, foyer activities, visits to schools and children’s hospitals, and online resources surrounding the concert. In a return of the SCO’s popular Stan and Mabel series, people of all ages will be invited to join the Orchestra, conductor Gregory Batsleer and children’s TV presenter Chris Jarvis to enjoy a live performance following the fun-filled musical adventures of the dog-and-cat duo written and illustrated by Jason Chapman and set to music by Paul Rissmann (11 – 13 February). Other key moments in 2022 include:

  • Masterworks, theSCO’s flagship project for secondary schools is currently online with a suite of video resources featuring riSE and fLY by Julia Wolfe performed by percussionist Colin Currie and the SCO. Free to schools.
  • 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.

Gavin Reid, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra: “We’re delighted to be sharing more live performances with audiences across Scotland in 2022. As the musical world continues its journey of renewal we’ll be inviting music-lovers to join us as we celebrate creative connections, with a longed-for reunion with the SCO Chorus, musical travels across the globe and visits from some of today’s most exciting artists. We also continue to build on our digital offering, reaching audiences across the world with our Mendelssohn festival and New Stories initiative whilst building on our work here in Edinburgh through our SCO in Craigmillar residency as well as in communities and schools across the country. We can’t wait to welcome more audiences in 2022 to join us and share in the joy of music-making both in the concert hall and beyond.”

Maxim Emelyanychev, Principal Conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra: “I’m delighted to present another exciting season of concerts with the SCO in 2022. I’m particularly looking forward to working with lots of fantastic guest artists and bringing you a kaleidoscope of music from across the centuries and around the world.”COVID-19 Safety Measures at SCO performances in 2022:

  • There will be no social distancing for audiences at SCO concerts from January 2022
  • The SCO asks that all attenders aged 18 or over (unless medically exempt) wear a face covering at all times inside venues
  • 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
  • The SCO will continue to be alert to changing conditions and will adjust plans in response to evolving Scottish Government and public health guidelines
  • For further details on the Covid-19 policy for audience members attending SCO performances visit sco.org.uk

Tickets go on sale for Edinburgh (thequeenshall.netusherhall.co.uk), Glasgow City Halls (glasgowconcerthalls.com), St Andrews (byretheatre.com), Inverness (eden-court.co.uk) concerts at 10am on 24 November via venue box offices.

Tickets for Aberdeen (aberdeenperformingarts.com) and Perth (horsecross.co.uk) concerts go on sale at 10am on 1 December via venue box offices.

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