SCO’s half-century and other seasons
The Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s jubilee caps a promising orchestral programme for the year to come, writes Keith Bruce
In the run-up to its 50th anniversary, the SCO is understandably cock-a-hoop to be able to preface its new season announcement with the news that Principal Conductor Maxim Emelyanychev has extended his contract with the orchestra to 2028.
As the young Russian’s reputation continues to grow globally, and his dizzying schedule takes him to the most prestigious concert halls and opera houses, he has clearly established an important mutually-supportive relationship with the Edinburgh-based ensemble. In the coming season that is as diverse as ever, opening with a seven date Scottish tour of Beethoven’s “Eroica” and a new work by the orchestra’s Associate Composer, Jay Capperauld.
Emelyanychev’s SCO season ends with Mendelssohn’s Elijah, which he, the orchestra and the SCO Chorus will perform in this summer’s newly-announced BBC Proms season.
The RSNO also kicks off with Beethoven, with Lise de la Salle the soloist for the Third Piano Concerto, when Music Director Thomas Sondergard also conducts Richard Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben. Sondergard’s season ends with Berlioz’s Grande Messe and also features two concerts including piano concertos by Saint-Saens with the season’s Artist in Residence Simon Trpceski, and an evening of French music with Scots mezzo Catriona Morison the soloist.
At the BBC SSO, Chief Conductor Ryan Wigglesworth continues to make an individual mark, opening with a concert that includes his own Piano Concerto with Steven Osborne the soloist, alongside Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, with soprano Sally Matthews. He also focuses on Elgar, with the Symphony No 1 and Dai Miyata playing the Cello Concerto, and continues his exploration of Stravinsky’s ballet music with Orpheus and The Fairy’s Kiss, with Principal Guest Conductor Ilan Volkov adding Petrushka in January 2024.
Wigglesworth also conducts the Verdi Requiem next March as the SSO continues its association with the Edinburgh Festival Chorus, and there is much for lovers of choral music to enjoy elsewhere as well.
The RSNO Chorus is celebrating its 180th anniversary in style, including a “Come and Sing” Verdi Requiem in January and Jeanette Sorrell conducting the annual New Year Messiah following an end-of-November concert of Sir James MacMillan’s Christmas Oratorio, conducted by the composer. As well as that Berlioz Grande Messe, it also features in a John Wilson-conducted concert of Ireland, Elgar and Holst – and the RSNO Youth Chorus has an equally busy concert year.
The SCO Chorus can boast a MacMillan premiere with his Burns-setting Composed in August, and Capperauld gives them another first performance with his setting of Niall Campbell’s The Night Watch. It also sings Bach’s B Minor Mass, under conductor Richard Egarr, and Schubert’s Mass in A-flat.
Mezzo Karen Cargill joins the SSO and conductor Alpesh Chauhan for Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde and is the soloist for a Scottish Chamber Orchestra programme celebrating the Auld Alliance with France. The SCO’s big birthday line-up of soloists also includes percussionist Colin Currie directing an evening of Steve Reich, Julia Wolfe and Arvo Part, Steven Osborne playing Ravel and Pekka Kuusisto returning for three concerts, one in partnership with Emelyanychev.
Violinist Nicola Benedetti, whose first programme as director of Edinburgh International Festival is unveiled on Monday, plays the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the SCO at the end of the year and gives the much-delayed Scottish premiere of Mark Simpson’s concerto written for her with the RSNO next March.
Full details of all the seasons at sco.org.uk, rsno.org.uk and bbc.co.uk/bbcsso