Royal Scottish National Orchestra

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Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO)
The Royal Scottish National Orchestra Logo.jpg
Official Royal Scottish National Orchestra logo
Former name Scottish Orchestra
Scottish National Orchestra
Royal Scottish Orchestra
Founded 1891
Location Glasgow, Scotland
Principal conductor Peter Oundjian

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) is Scotland's national symphony orchestra. The orchestra has performed full-time since 1950, when it took the name Scottish National Orchestra. It was awarded royal patronage in 1977.[1] It continued to use the name 'Scottish National Orchestra' until 1991 when it briefly used the title Royal Scottish Orchestra before changing to its present name.[2] It is based in Glasgow and supported by the Scottish Government.[3]


Formed in 1843 to accompany the Glasgow Choral Union (today known as the RSNO Chorus) and recognised formally in 1891 as the Scottish Orchestra. For four years in 1900–04, the composer Gustav Holst served in the orchestra as a trombonist

Its longest serving conductor was Sir Alexander Gibson under whose baton the orchestra became known for its interpretations of Scandinavian composers, notably Jean Sibelius and Carl Nielsen. This was consolidated in the tenure of Neeme Järvi, who also led the orchestra through its first complete Gustav Mahler cycle. The second Scot to lead the orchestra, Bryden Thomson, maintained the Nordic link with a cycle of Nielsen symphonies.[2]


The RSNO's base is at the purpose-built RSNO Centre. From 1977 to 2015 the RSNO's base was at Henry Wood Hall in Glasgow and this space was also used as its recording venue. The RSNO also performs throughout Scotland, at such venues as the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Usher Hall (Edinburgh), Caird Hall (Dundee), Aberdeen Music Hall, Perth Concert Hall and Eden Court Inverness.


The orchestra had a long-standing recording contract with Chandos Records in the 1980s and 1990s which has recently been re-established. Today, it chiefly records for Naxos Records, most notably in a cycle of Anton Bruckner symphonies with the late Georg Tintner, cycles of Arnold Bax symphonies with David Lloyd-Jones, and several recordings of American works (including the complete orchestral works of Samuel Barber) conducted by Marin Alsop, who was the RSNO's principal guest conductor from 2000 to 2003. In May 2007, the RSNO made their first recordings with Stéphane Denève, of music of Albert Roussel, for Naxos. The first recording[4] received the Diapason d'Or de l'année for Symphonic Music. The second disc in the series was released in 2008.[5]

RSNO Chorus[edit]

The RSNO Chorus evolved from a choir formed in 1843 to sing the first full performance of Handel's Messiah in Scotland, in April 1844. The RSNO Chorus performs in around six different programmes in up to twenty concerts across Scotland with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra each year in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee. In addition to its commitment to the RSNO, the Chorus performs independently and has toured worldwide. The current chorus director is Gregory Batsleer.[6]

RSNO Junior Chorus[edit]

The RSNO Junior Chorus was formed in 1978 by Jean Kidd. Since 1994 it has been directed by RSNO Junior Chorus Director, Christopher Bell.[7] The RSNO Junior Chorus has a membership of around 400 singers, aged from eight to eighteen. The members are taught to sing using the Zoltán Kodály method of training.

Learning and Engagement[edit]

The RSNO also does a variety of learning and engagement activities with local communities across Scotland, working with all ages and abilities ranging from schools and nursery concerts, to community workshops and annual residencies. [8]

Artistic Team[edit]

The RSNO's music director from 2005-2012 was Stéphane Denève.[9] In April 2007, his contract was initially extended through 2011,[10] and in March 2010, further extended 1 year through the 2011–2012 season, after which time his tenure is scheduled to conclude.[11][12] In January 2011, the RSNO announced the appointment of Peter Oundjian as its next music director, as of the 2012–2013 season, with an initial contract of 4 years.[13][14] Past principal guest conductors, in addition to Alsop, have included Garry Walker (2003–2007). In October 2011, Thomas Søndergård was named the RSNO's next principal guest conductor, as of the 2012–2013 season, with an initial contract of 3 years for 3 programmes per year.[15] The RSNO's current assistant conductor is Holly Mathieson, since September 2016.[16]

Tenures of Principal Conductors[edit]


  1. ^ "Board of Directors". Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "RSNO biography". Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  3. ^ "National performing companies get official status" (Press release). Scottish Government. 29 April 2007. Retrieved 2008-08-21. 
  4. ^ Tim Ashley (8 June 2007). "Roussel: Bacchus et Ariane; Symphony No 3, RSNO/ Denève". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-03-06. 
  5. ^ Tim Ashley (13 June 2008). "Roussel: Symphony No 2; Suite in F; Pour une Fête de Printemps, RSNO/ Denève". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-02-20. 
  6. ^ "RSNO Chorus". RSNO. Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  7. ^ "Christopher Bell – Chorus Director, RSNO Junior Chorus". RSNO. Retrieved 16 June 2015. 
  8. ^ "RSNO Engage". RSNO. Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  9. ^ "Stephane Deneve at the RSNO". Stephane Deneve. Stephane Deneve. Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  10. ^ Phil Miller (19 April 2007). "RSNO to retain music director and receive £750,000 from executive". The Herald. Retrieved 2007-05-21. 
  11. ^ "RSNO Music Director commits through 2012 and announces new European appointment" (Press release). Royal Scottish National Orchestra. March 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-06. 
  12. ^ Phil Miller (4 March 2010). "National orchestra maestro to leave Scotland". The Herald. Retrieved 2010-03-06. 
  13. ^ "Peter Oundjian to be RSNO's new Music Director" (Press release). Royal Scottish National Orchestra. 31 January 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-01. 
  14. ^ Phil Miller (1 February 2011). "Leading violinist gets top role at RSNO". The Herald. Retrieved 2011-02-01. 
  15. ^ "Thomas Søndergård joins RSNO Artistic Team" (Press release). Royal Scottish National Orchestra. 18 October 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-06. 
  16. ^ "Holly Mathieson Biography". Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Retrieved 13 October 2016. 
  • Playing for Scotland:History of the Royal Scottish Orchestra; author Conrad Wilson, published by Collins, 1993.

External links[edit]