The classical music scene is thriving in Scotland, with many making a significant contribution to cultural life both in Scotland and internationally. These leading performing arts organisations have a major presence on Scotland's largest stages and concert halls.
Royal Scottish National Orchestra
The Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) is one of Europe's leading symphony orchestras. Formed in 1891 as the Scottish Orchestra, the company became the Scottish National Orchestra in 1950, and was awarded Royal Patronage in 1991. Throughout its proud history, the Orchestra has played an important 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 Walter Susskind, Sir Alexander Gibson, Bryden Thomson, Conductor Laureate Neeme Järvi, Conductor Emeritus Walter Weller, Conductor Emeritus Alexander Lazarev and most recently, Stéphane Denève.
The RSNO performs across Scotland as well as internationally in France, Germany, Spain, Austria, The Netherlands, Luxembourg and Serbia. The Orchestra visited mainland Asia for the first time in 2012-13 with a tour to China over the New Year.
Scottish Chamber Orchestra
The Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO) is internationally recognised as one of the finest chamber orchestras in the world. Formed in 1974 with a commitment to serve the Scottish community, it is also one of Scotland's foremost cultural ambassadors. The Orchestra performs throughout Scotland, and appears regularly at the Edinburgh, East Neuk, St Magnus and Aldeburgh Festivals and the BBC Proms. Its busy touring schedule has recently included many European countries as well as India and the USA.
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Based at the City Halls, Glasgow, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra is another internationally-recognised symphony orchestra. Formed in December 1935 by Scottish composer and conductor Ian Whyte, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra has won several awards, including a Royal Philharmonic Society Award and four Gramophone Awards. Its wide repertoire and flexible approach means it can perform complex contemporary pieces alongside major symphonic works.
Scotland is also home to several leading composers including James MacMillan, Sally Beamish, Lyell Cresswell, all of whom regularly collaborate with the Scottish orchestras.
Glasgow, a UNESCO City of Music
Glasgow was named a UNESCO City of Music in August 2008, making it the second Scottish city to join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (Edinburgh is a UNESCO City of Literature).The title recognises Glasgow's musical riches, the vibrancy of its music scene and its role as a world player in music. Glasgow's music scene spans many genres, including both their production and performance. In preparing its bid for UNESCO status, Glasgow counted an average of 130 music events a week ranging from pop and rock to Celtic music and opera. Whether it is contemporary, classical, Celtic or Country, Glasgow has some of the most famous music venues in the UK and a thriving music industry. It also has some of the most recognised qualifications in higher education in music.