The Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO) has announced its 2023-24 Season, celebrating 50 years of inspiring music-making across Scotland and beyond.


Since its inaugural concert in Glasgow’s City Halls on 27 January 1974, the SCO has been known for its pioneering spirit, outstanding musicianship and for bringing exceptional live performances to its audiences, from classical masterworks to premieres by many of today’s most exciting composers.

Top of the agenda for the SCO's 50th anniversary season is the news that Maxim Emelyanychev is to extend his contract as principal conductor through to 2028.

Maxim will launch the season with a nationwide tour, presenting Beethoven’s epic ‘Eroica’ symphony in seven different locations across Scotland. From Perth to Aberdeen and Craigmillar to Ayr, Emelyanychev’s Grand Tour of Scotland will also feature soloists including pianist Kirill Gerstein, clarinettist Maximiliano Martin and violist Max Mandel.

The tour will also include a brand-new piece by SCO associate composer Jay Capperauld. Jay's The Origin of Colour (touring, 27 September-7 October) tells a surrealist tale of the creation of colour on Earth.

To conclude the season, Emelyanychev presents Mendelssohn's dramatic oratorio Elijah with the massed forces of the SCO Chorus and an international line-up of soloists including Carolyn Sampson and Roderick Williams (9-10 May). The SCO, SCO Chorus and Maxim will also take Elijah to the BBC Proms this summer for a performance at London’s Royal Albert Hall (29 July 2023).

The season also features a visit from a regular SCO collaborator, the Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto, who presents a typically eclectic trio of concerts as both soloist and director. A birdsong-inspired programme explores music by Respighi and Tarrodi as well as bringing a fresh new perspective on Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons as Pekka and cittern player Ale Carr intersperse the work with traditional Nordic folk tunes (7-9 March).

Pekka directs a concert inspired by the wonders of the natural world, including music by Erkki-Sven Tüür and Einojuhani Rautavaara as well as the UK premieres of Helen Grime’s It Will Be Spring Soon and Anna Clyne’s violin concerto Time and Tides, featuring folk tunes from Scotland, America and Finland (13-15 March).

Einojuhani Rautavaara
Einojuhani Rautavaara, whose music features in a special concert inspired by the wonders of the natural world

Further guest conductors throughout the season include Andrew Manze, who brings his musical insights to two concerts. The first features Ravel’s Piano Concerto with Steven Osborne as soloist (24-25 April), while the second is an all-Vaughan Williams concert featuring The Lark Ascending with SCO leader Stephanie Gonley as soloist and the composer’s Concerto Grosso featuring young string players from the current SCO Academy (2-3 May).

Elsewhere, composer and conductor Thomas Adès conducts the Orchestra in a concert that showcases music from Haydn to Master of the King's Music Judith Weir, as well as a new orchestral version of his own rapturous The Origin of the Harp, weaving together threads of Celtic music and more contemporary sounds (11-12 April).

Star soloists throughout the 2023-24 season include Nicola Benedetti (pictured top) in Beethoven’s Violin Concerto (13-15 December) and percussionist Colin Currie, who directs an evening of classic minimalism from founding father Steve Reich to Julie Wolf and Arvo Pärt (9-10 November).


Nicola Benedetti pic: LightPress Media and Design


Steve Wright
Steve WrightMulti-Platform Content Producer, BBC Music Magazine

Steve has been an avid listener of classical music since childhood, and now contributes a variety of features to BBC Music’s magazine and website. He started writing about music as Arts Editor of an Oxford University student newspaper and has continued ever since, serving as Arts Editor on various magazines.