SCO On The Road

As the RSNO returns from touring in Europe, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra has announced a huge list of concerts on tour across Scotland this summer.

The SCO’s version of “returning to normal” after the restrictions of the pandemic is to take every facet of its work out on the road, with everything from full-scale performances by the orchestra and by the SCO Chorus, to the projects for pre-schoolers to secondary students and with amateur adults, as well as visiting more remote venues with string and wind ensembles.

The programme of work runs from June to September and visits venues from the Shetland Isles to the Borders, with showcases for soloists from within the current line-up and return visits by old friends.

Inverness and Shetland are the locations for the SCO’s long-established and admired education and outreach work on the tour, with projects at Eden Court and in Elgin and in Lerwick and Brae in June. The professionals clearly expect amateur musicians to have been honing their chops during lockdown as its “Scrapers and Tooters” initiative offering coaching to rusty instrumentalists has adopted the more expectant “Come and Play” title.

Around the same time the SCO Chorus makes its venture into touring with concerts in Stirling Castle and St Andrews Holy Trinity Church on June 11 and 12. Chorus Director Gregory Batsleer directs a programme that ranges from Byrd to Britten and includes a new work from Associate Composer Anna Clyne.

The summer schedule begins in Inverness and Drumnadrochit on June 9 and 10 when an 11-piece chamber group plays a new version of Beethoven’s First Symphony by principal flute Andre Cebrian, alongside works by Ligeti and Lutoslawski.

The following week, the orchestra divides into its more familiar touring configurations of string ensemble, directed by leader Stephanie Gonley, and wind soloists. The former visits Blairgowrie, Callander and Helensburgh with a programme including Elgar, Schubert and Bartok, while the winds go to Ballachulish, Mull, Seil and Tillicoultry with Mozart, Telemann and Hummel.

Former principal bassoon Peter Whelan conducts the full orchestra in concerts, with Cebrian as soloist, in Castle Douglas, Langholm and Selkirk as June ends and July begins, before the SCO makes its annual visit to the East Neuk Festival with a programme that includes soprano Anna Dennis singing Mozart.

Principal conductor Maxim Emelyanychev joins the touring party later in July with Maximiliano Martin playing Weber’s Clarinet Concerto No 2 in Stirling and Dunoon and Philip Higham Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C in Glenrothes and Musselburgh.

At the start of September, after the SCO’s involvement in the Edinburgh Festival, Catherine Larsen-Maguire picks up the baton and Higham is joined by current first bassoon Cerys Ambrose-Evans as soloists in music by Dvorak and Mozart. That programme can be heard in Kingussie, Findhorn, Fraserburgh and Arbroath.

Ten days later the epic trek to a’ the airts winds up in Blair Castle, Linlithgow and Greenock with Estonian conductor Kristiina Poska, and the music of Shostakovich and Beethoven.

Full details are available at