BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

In the most ambitious programme of cultural exchange ever undertaken by a UK orchestra in India, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra embarks on a three-city tour in March and April 2014 with concerts, educational workshops and exchange forming part of the tour.

Violinist Nicola Benedetti and composer James MacMillan join the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland on the tour, which includes a rich programme of events and public concerts in Chennai (29 March), New Delhi (2 April) and Mumbai (6 April). In addition, they will join the BBC SSO and the RCS in each of the cities for interactive workshops presented by the music education expert Paul Rissmann.

The visit, in partnership with the British Council and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, is the centrepiece of the orchestra’s activities leading up to the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The public concerts in Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai are being organised in partnership with Madras Seva Sadan (Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall), Seher and NCPA respectively.

A key element of the tour includes educational workshops and concerts for school children in each of the cities. In Chennai, these are being organised in partnership with Rhapsody, and in Delhi by Seher.

Gavin Reid, Director of the BBC SSO, said, “We are thrilled to be celebrating the Commonwealth Games with such an exciting and ambitious programme of events celebrating and sharing the wonderful musical culture of both Scotland and India. With Nicola Benedetti, James MacMillan, Paul Rissmann and students from the Royal Conservatoire, the BBC presents some of the very best of Scottish contemporary music-making on an international stage, whilst with AR Rahman we welcome to Glasgow one of the most celebrated and gifted artistic figures in the world today.”

John Wallace, CBE, Principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said, “The tour of India is the most incredible opportunity for a group of our students from music and from film and TV. Our partnership with BBC Scotland is enabling them to experience first hand, mentored by professionals, the interface between the West and one of the most dynamic cultures in the world. Mumbai, with its Bollywood film studios is like a twenty-first century New Orleans and Hollywood rolled into one, and in Chennai, they will also be collaborating with students from the composer of the music for Slumdog Millionaire, AR Rahman's conservatory. With James Macmillan conducting and Nicola Benedetti as soloist, it does not get any better than this.”

Rob Lynes, Director of the British Council, India, said, “The Scottish Symphony Orchestra's tour of India, accompanied by students from the Royal Conservatoire, will create a programme of ground-breaking musical collaborations in order to build stronger links between India and Scotland. While our historical ties are strong, this tour, through engaging with young people at every stage, will make those relationships relevant to a new generation. The British Council is delighted to have helped to bring this tour about – renewing friendships and bringing musicians and music-lovers together from different parts of the world.”

Nicola Benedetti said, “This will be my very first trip to India 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 another organisation equally serious about exposing this music to all parts of a community, not just to the folk who can afford to attend the concerts."

Notes to Editor

About the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra was formed in December 1935 and is a key contributor to the BBC’s broadcasting and cultural role. Now in its 78th year, it performs to large and enthusiastic audiences in venues throughout Scotland, and carries out a busy schedule of broadcasts and concerts for BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio Scotland, BBC television, and online. A past recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society Award for best orchestra, the BBC SSO’s commercial recordings have received a number of prizes, including four Gramophone Awards. Based at City Halls in Glasgow since 2006, the BBC SSO is Scotland’s leading champion of new music, and has established strong links with local communities through its thriving learning and outreach programme. It is also a major partner in Big Noise, Scotland’s innovative project for social change through music, and it maintains a close association with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, working over a variety of disciplines with conductors, composers, soloists and orchestral players. The BBC SSO appears annually at the BBC Proms and the Edinburgh International Festival, as well as at other major festivals throughout the world.

About Nicola Benedetti

Nicola Benedetti is one of the most sought after violinists of her generation. Born in Scotland of Italian heritage, Nicola began violin lessons at the age of five.  With concerto performances at the heart of her career, Nicola is in much demand with major orchestras and conductors across the globe. Fiercely committed to music education and to developing young talent, Nicola has formed associations with education establishments including schools, music colleges and local authorities. In 2010, she became Sistema Scotland’s official musical ‘Big Sister’ for the Big Noise project; a music initiative partnered with Venezuela’s El Sistema (Fundación Musical Simón Bolívar). In addition, Nicola recently developed her own education and outreach initiative entitled The Benedetti Sessions, which have been held in City Halls, Glasgow and the Royal Albert Hall, London which give hundreds of aspiring young string players drawn from secondary schools as well as music  conservatories, the opportunity to rehearse, undertake and observe masterclasses culminating in a performance alongside Nicola.
She was appointed as a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours in recognition of both her international music career and for her work with musical charities throughout the UK, and, has to date received five honorary degrees. Winner of Best Female Artist at the 2012 Classical BRIT Awards, Nicola’s most recent recording, The Silver Violin, has had a major impact on the re-evaluation of the music of Erich Wolfgang Korngold, whose Violin Concerto is the centrepiece of a disc inspired by his legacy on film music. The disc has the distinction of reaching Number 1 in the Amazon charts, 30 in the UK pop charts whilst simultaneously topping the classical charts for months.

About James MacMillan

James MacMillan is the pre-eminent Scottish composer of his generation.   He attracted attention with the acclaimed BBC Proms premiere of The Confession of Isobel Gowdie (1990).  His music combines rhythmic excitement, raw emotional power and spiritual meditation and his percussion concerto Veni, Veni, Emmanuel (1992) has received over 400 performances. His works are programmed worldwide by orchestras including London Symphony Orchestra, New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics and the Cleveland Orchestra. He was featured composer at Edinburgh Festival (1993), Southbank Centre in London (1997) and BBC Barbican Composer Weekend (2005)  Interpreters include soloists Evelyn Glennie, Wayne Marshall, Colin Currie, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, conductors Slatkin, Rostropovich, Sir Colin Davis, Sir Andrew Davis, Vänska, Alsop, Maksymiuk, Runnicles and Brabbins, and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon.

About Rhapsody

Rhapsody - Education through Music works with schools to take musical intelligence to classrooms. The Rhapsody curriculum, developed by experts in music and education, sets the foundation for a firm grounding in music, and helps in the cognitive and artistic development of children.

Rhapsody Music Foundation reaches over 90,000 children across Tamil Nadu currently. Started by noted pianist Anil Srinivasan, the Rhapsody initiative works alongside schools and children's institutions, bringing a multi-genre approach to understanding and practising music, as part of the curriculum.  Rhapsody, along with its partner schools, will be bringing over 2000 children for the special concerts and workshops of the BBC SSO.

About Madras Seva Sadan

The Madras Seva Sadan was founded in 1928 by Sir & Lady M. Venkatasubba Rao as a home for young and destitute woman with a view to impart to them such education and training as would make them fit, in course of time, to look after themselves, and be self-supporting and self-reliant. Today, the Madras Seva Sadan manages higher secondary schools, vocational centres, a rehabilitation centre, and has recently entered the field of performing arts, by creating the Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall. C. Krish Kumar, head of operations, Sir  Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall and the Madras Seva Sadan has been actively involved in bringing the BBC SSO to Chennai. On the organisation’s charitable mission he says, "founded as a home for grown up girls and young women, the Madras Seva Sadan, imparts education and training to these women to make them self-supporting and self-reliant".

About Seher

Seher is one of India’s leading cultural organizations. Since its inception, Seher has been synonymous with thoughtful and imaginative initiatives in the sphere of painting, sculpture, theatre, dance, music, literature and cinema. Seher was founded with the vision of taking Indian culture to large number of people, not just to a small cultural elite. In the last 15 years, Seher has become one of the most highly regarded organizations in the area of the performing and visual arts – both for the diversity of performances as well as for the unusual manner in which each one has been conceived. Its events have been repeatedly described as historic, innovative and radically different. These have included live performances amid ancient monuments as well as in public parks. Many have been done for the first time ever in India and have attracted thousands of people.

About NCPA

Opening its doors to the world in 1969, the NCPA became the first multi-venue and multi-purpose cultural centre to be built in South Asia. Vibrant and diverse, the NCPA today is recognized by artistes, patrons and The NCPA presents over 600 events each year across all major art forms, most notably Indian Music, International Music, Theatre and Film, Dance, Literature, Visual Arts and Photography. There are Heads of
Programming for each of these art forms who curate innovative events and festivals; representative of everything from classical to contemporary throughout the year. The NCPA produces its own programmes as well as collaborates with leading cultural promoters from around the world.

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We work in over 100 countries worldwide to build engagement and trust for the UK through the exchange of knowledge and ideas between people. We work in the arts, education, science, sport and governance and last year we reached over 128 million people. 

The British Council is recognised across India for its network of 9 libraries and cultural centres. We offer a range of specialised projects in arts, education, exams, English language and society to audiences across India and more than 100,000 members. We also provide access to English language training and learning for both students and teachers, offer UK qualifications in India and enable opportunities to study in the UK.