The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra opens a three-city tour of India on Saturday, March 29th, accompanied by composer James MacMillan, violinist Nicola Benedetti and students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
In the most ambitious programme of cultural exchange ever undertaken by a British orchestra in India, this tour celebrates the lead-up to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, and will also take in performances in New Delhi and Mumbai, as well as workshops with the KM Music Conservatory in Chennai.
It was the ‘Celctic Connections’ festival in Glasgow in January which marked the first event of the cultural exchange between Scotland and India. Musicians from the KM Music Conservatory, accompanied by Bollywood composer, AR Rahman, joined musicians from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and members of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, in a performance of music by Mr Rahman – best known for his score for the film Slumdog Millionaire.
The performances by the BBCSSO – conducted by James MacMillan – will take place in Chennai (Madras) on March 29th, in New Delhi on April 2nd, and Mumbai on April 6th. The works to be performed are Mendelssohn’s Overture The Hebrides, Mozart’s Violin Concerto No 5 – the Turkish – with Nicola Benedetti as soloist, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 4.
Ms Benedetti and James MacMillan will also join the Orchestra in each of these cities for schools concerts and workshops which will be presented by music education specialist, Paul Rissmann.
Scottish-born, of Italian heritage, Nicola Benedetti is much in demand with major orchestras and conductors around the world. She has a strong commitment to music education, and the development of young talent, having already formed associations with schools, music colleges and local authorities. In 2010 she became Sistema Scotland’s official musical ‘Big Sister’ for the Big Noise project – an initiative partnered with Venezuela’s El Sistema program.
Ms Benedetti has also recently developed her own education and outreach initiative, The Benedetti Sessions – held in City Halls, Glasgow, and at London’s Royal Albert Hall – aimed at giving hundreds of aspiring young string players the opportunity to rehearse, attend and observe masterclasses, and to perform with her.
“This will be my very first trip to India,” she says, “and I am so excited. It’s a highlight of my coming year because as well as playing some wonderful concerts, the orchestra and I will be staying in each of the cities for a few days, giving workshops and getting involved with the local communities. This is an element of music making I have dedicated so much time to and I’m thrilled to be joining other organisations equally serious about exposing this music to all parts of a community, not just to the folk who can afford to attend the concerts.”
James MacMillan’s international career was launched with the premiere of his work The Confession of Isobel Gowdie during the 1990 BBC Proms season. The pre-eminent Scottish composer of his generation, James MacMillan regularly appears on the international conducting circuit, and his music has been featured extensively at international music festivals since 1993. He has also received commissions from ensembles such as the London Symphony, the Philadelphia, the Royal Concertgebouw, and Boston Symphony orchestras, and composed for a number of artists, including Mstislav Rostropovich, Vadim Repin and Jean-Yves Thibaudet, as well as for conductors such as Sir Colin Davis, Sir Andrew Davis, Osmo Vänska and Marin Alsop. James MacMillan’s Piano Concerto No 2 was first performed at New York City Ballet, with choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, and he was commissioned to compose a work for the inauguration of the new organ at Walt Disney Hall, with soloist Wayne Marshall, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen.
The tour to India by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra is supported by the British Council, an organisation with a mission to use education, the arts and English as tools with which to build enduring international relationships and trust between nations.