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Guide to the Royal Scottish National Orchestra

Find Royal Scottish National Orchestra events
« Søndergård and the orchestra gave a performance as if this was a newly discovered score with phrasing and dynamics detailing far corners of the work. The string playing sounded fantastic with the great sweeping arcs contrasting the winter forest darkness with the sparkling sunlight on snow and ice. »
David Smythe, November 2021
About the orchestra

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra is one of Europe's leading orchestras with a rich history stretching back over 125 years. It is one of Scotland's leading cultural institutions, and an orchestra with a variety of work that is almost unparalleled amongst its British peers.

Formed in 1891 as the Scottish Orchestra, the company became the Scottish National Orchestra in 1950, and was awarded Royal Patronage in 1977.

Throughout its history, the Orchestra has played an integral part in Scotland’s musical life, including performing at the opening ceremony of the Scottish Parliament building in 2004. Many renowned conductors have contributed to its success, including George Szell, Sir John Barbirolli, Walter Susskind, Sir Alexander Gibson, Neeme Järvi, Walter Weller, Alexander Lazarev and Stéphane Denève.

The Orchestra’s artistic team is led by Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård, who was appointed RSNO Music Director in 2018, having previously held the position of Principal Guest Conductor. Hong Kong-born conductor Elim Chan succeeds Søndergård as Principal Guest Conductor.

The RSNO performs across Scotland, including concerts in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen, Perth and Inverness. The Orchestra appears regularly at the Edinburgh International Festival and the BBC Proms, and has made recent tours to the USA, China and Europe.

The RSNO has a worldwide reputation for the quality of its recordings, receiving a 2020 Gramophone Classical Music Award for Chopin’s Piano Concertos (soloist: Benjamin Grosvenor), conducted by Elim Chan, two Diapason d’Or awards for Symphonic Music (Denève/Roussel 2007; Denève/Debussy 2012) and eight GRAMMY Awards nominations. Over 200 releases are available, including the complete symphonies of Sibelius (Gibson), Prokofiev (Järvi), Glazunov (Serebrier), Nielsen and Martinů (Thomson), Roussel (Denève) and the major orchestral works of Debussy (Denève). Thomas Søndergård’s debut recording with the RSNO, of Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben, was released in 2019.