Scottish Chamber Orchestra

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The Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO) is an Edinburgh-based UK chamber orchestra. One of Scotland's five National Performing Arts Companies, the SCO performs throughout Scotland, including annual tours of the Scottish Highlands and Islands and South of Scotland. The SCO appears regularly at the Edinburgh, East Neuk, St Magnus and Aldeburgh Festivals and The Proms. The SCO's international touring receives support from the Scottish Government. The SCO rehearses mainly at Edinburgh's Queen's Hall.


The SCO was formed in 1974, with Roderick Brydon[1] as its first Principal Conductor, from 1974 to 1983. The founding leader of the SCO was John Tunnell, and by 1977 he had been joined by Carolyn Sparey[2] as principal viola, and Haflidi Halgrimsson as principal cello. With Michael Storrs managing the orchestra for much of  its first decade, the schedule, which for a while included work as the orchestra for Scottish Opera, offered a full diary of concert performances, recordings and touring. In 1978 there was a tour to Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, as well as the first of two summers as orchestra in residence for the festival in Aix-en-Provence. A year later a tour of the Scottish Highlands and islands was the first of its kind ever to take place on the islands of the West coast of Scotland, and was followed by the official opening by Queen Elizabeth II of the Queen's Hall in Edinburgh on July 6.

A highlight of the year 1980 was a BBC TV recording with Raymond Leppard of all six Brandenburg Concertos and over the next couple of years the relentless schedule continued with concerts in Barcelona, a residency in the Scottish Highlands, performances at the St. Magnus Festival in Orkney, a recording of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with violinist Jaimie Laredo, tours of the UK and Europe with mezzo soprano Teresa Berganza, concerts with the Polish conductor, Jerzy Maksymiuk, and an introduction to the up and coming young English conductor, Simon Rattle in a concert involving the American opera singer, Jessye Norman.

Other principal conductors have included Jukka-Pekka Saraste (1987–1991) and Ivor Bolton (1994–1996). The American violinist and conductor Joseph Swensen served as Principal Conductor from 1996 to 2005, and is now the SCO's Conductor Emeritus. Sir Charles Mackerras held the position of Conductor Laureate until his death in 2010. The Estonian conductor Olari Elts served as the SCO's Principal Guest Conductor from October 2007 to September 2010.[3] Robin Ticciati was principal conductor from 2009 through 2018.[4] with an initial contract of 3 years.[5][6] Emmanuel Krivine became the SCO's principal guest conductor in September 2015.[7][8]

In March 2018, Maxim Emelyanychev first guest-conducted the SCO, as an emergency substitute for Ticciati. Based on this appearance, in May 2018, the SCO announced the appointment of Emelyanychev as its sixth principal conductor, effective with the 2019-2020 season.[9] In November 2019, the SCO announced the extension of Emelyanychev's contract as principal conductor through 2025.[10] In April 2023, the SCO announced an additional extension of Emelyanychev's contract as principal conductor through "at least 2028".[11]

In 2023 members of the orchestra were selected to play at the coronation of Charles III and Camilla.[12]

Contemporary music[edit]

The SCO's work in contemporary music has included collaborations with Gordon Crosse,[13] John McLeod,[14] and Peter Maxwell Davies, notably the series of Strathclyde Concertos.[15][16] Einojuhani Rautavaara's Autumn Gardens received its world premiere with the SCO in 1999.[17] The SCO premiered Sally Beamish's Concerto for Orchestra (Sangsters) in November 2002.[18] The SCO has commissioned over 100 new works, from composers including Peter Maxwell Davies (the SCO's Composer Laureate), Mark-Anthony Turnage, Judith Weir, Sally Beamish, Karin Rehnqvist, Lyell Cresswell, James MacMillan, Hafliði Hallgrímsson, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Stuart MacRae, Edward Harper and Martin Suckling (appointed SCO Associate Composer in 2013).[19]

The SCO has recorded for a number of labels, including Deutsche Grammophon[20] and Hyperion.[21] It has a recording partnership with the Glasgow-based record company, Linn Records,[22] with whom it has recorded 12 albums, including several recordings of Mozart symphonies conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras[23][24] and an album of Berlioz conducted by Ticciati.[25]

Principal conductors[edit]

Past SCO chief executives have included Roy McEwan-Brown. In April 2016, the SCO announced the appointment of Gavin Reid as its current chief executive, effective 29 August 2016.[26]


  1. ^ "Roderick Brydon obituary".
  2. ^ "The Art of Music -- Carolyn Sparey".
  3. ^ Marisa Duffy (6 September 2007). "A season of musical delights". The Herald. Retrieved 16 September 2007.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Tim Cornwell (10 October 2008). "He's young and talented..and the future of classical music". The Scotsman. Retrieved 13 November 2008.
  5. ^ Phil Miller (10 October 2008). "'Exciting young conductor' to take over baton at Scottish orchestra". The Herald. Archived from the original on 3 December 2008. Retrieved 13 November 2008.
  6. ^ Keith Bruce (22 March 2017). "The SCO's fine send-off season for conductor Robin Ticciati". The Herald. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  7. ^ "Scottish Chamber Orchestra appoints Emmanuel Krivine as Principal Guest Conductor" (PDF) (Press release). Scottish Chamber Orchestra. 2 May 2014. Retrieved 20 July 2014.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Scottish orchestra to benefit from the French connection". The Herald. 9 July 2014. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
  9. ^ "Scottish Chamber Orchestra announces new Principal Conductor as Maxim Emelyanychev" (PDF) (Press release). Scottish Chamber Orchestra. 29 May 2018. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  10. ^ "Scottish Chamber Orchestra Principal Conductor Maxim Emelyanychev extends contract until 2025" (PDF) (Press release). Scottish Chamber Orchestra. 19 November 2019. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  11. ^ "Maxim: 5 More Years" (Press release). Scottish Chamber Orchestra. 21 April 2023. Retrieved 24 April 2023.
  12. ^ "Buckingham Palace is pleased to announce further details of the twelve new compositions that have been written for the Coronation of Their Majesties The King and The Queen Consort at Westminster Abbey on Saturday 6th May 2023". The Royal Family. 16 April 2023. Archived from the original on 16 April 2023. Retrieved 11 May 2023.
  13. ^ Northcott, Bayan, "Recordings: Crosse: Elegy, Op.1 (1959-61); Symphony No.1, Op.13A (1976); Dreamsongs, Op.43 (1978)" (June 1981). Tempo (New Ser.), 137: 49-51.
  14. ^ MacDonald , Calum, "The Music of John McLeod" (April 1982). The Musical Times, 123 (1670): pp. 255-258
  15. ^ Johnson, David, "Reports: Scotland" (May 1984). The Musical Times, 125 (1695): pp. 284-285.
  16. ^ Warnaby, John, "Record Review - Maxwell Davies: Strathclyde Concerto No. 9 / Strathclyde Concerto No. 10 / Carolisima" (July 1997). Tempo (New Ser.), 201: pp. 53-55.
  17. ^ Edward Greenfield (28 July 1999). "A real find among Finns". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 September 2009.
  18. ^ Tom Service (18 November 2002). "SCO/Knussen (Matt Thomson Hall, Glasgow)". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 September 2009.
  19. ^ Kate Molleson (2 February 2014). "Martin Suckling is calm and composed for SCO 40th anniversary". The Herald. Retrieved 24 March 2015.
  20. ^ Andrew Clements (31 March 2006). "Mozart: La Clemenza di Tito, Trost/Martinpelto/Kozena/Milne/Rice/Relyea/SCO and Chorus/Mackerras". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 September 2009.
  21. ^ Anthony Holden (23 September 2007). "This week's classical CDs (Beethoven, The Symphonies)". The Observer. Retrieved 5 September 2009.
  22. ^ Keith Bruce (8 November 2019). "Album review: Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Maxim Emelyanychev, Schubert Symphony No.9 The Great". The Herald. Retrieved 9 November 2019.
  23. ^ Anthony Holden (24 February 2008). "Classical CD releases". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 October 2010.
  24. ^ Stephen Pritchard (7 March 2010). "Mozart: Symphonies 29, 31, 32, 35 & 36". The Observer. Retrieved 14 October 2010.
  25. ^ Andrew Clements (5 April 2012). "Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique; Overture to Beatrice and Benedict – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
  26. ^ "Announcing our new Chief Executive! Gavin Reid to succeed Roy McEwan at the helm of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra" (Press release). Scottish Chamber Orchestra. 20 April 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2016.

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