Scotland

RSNO tours US for first time in 35 years

Nicola Benedetti at the final rehearsal of the RSNO before the US tour
Image caption Nicola Benedetti at the final rehearsal of the RSNO before the US tour

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra is off on its first tour in the United States in 35 years.

The orchestra, along with violinist Nicola Benedetti, will perform eight concerts at seven venues across the state of Florida, beginning on Monday.

Touring is expensive, particularly with a 90-piece orchestra.

But the RSNO believes it will build its profile and encourage sales of the 200-plus recordings it has made over the past few decades.

Image caption The RSNO will perform at concert halls across Florida

Peter Oundjian, musical director of the RSNO, said Florida was now an "enormous centre of culture in North America".

"People who loved the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony and the Boston Symphony have all retired down there.

"Over the past several decades they have built fantastic concert halls so they can continue to have great music."

Dr Krishna Thiagarajan, the RSNO's chief executive, said part of the orchestra's mission was to be a "cultural ambassador for Scotland".

But he added: "Scots all across the world find us whenever we show up."

Image caption Peter Oundjian, musical director of the RSNO, said Florida was an enormous centre of culture

Dr Thiagarajan said: "One of the interesting aspects is to see different halls, different acoustics and interact with people that act differently.

"Scottish audiences are slightly more reserved even when they are completely enthusiastic about the performance.

"American audiences share their enthusiasm quicker."

Superstar violinist Nicola Benedetti will be joining the RSNO on the Florida tour.

The 29-year-old, who started her professional career with the orchestra, was not even born when the last tour happened.

She is expected to be a major draw for American audiences - along with the eightsome reels the RSNO plan to play as an encore.

Mr Oundjian told BBC Scotland: "Nicola is quite extraordinary.

"She is one of the most magical artists today. She has some quality inside her that as soon as she takes that instrument you feel something extraordinary is happening."

The RSNO will perform at Fort Lauderdale (Broward Center), West Palm Beach (Kravis Center), Sarasota (Van Wezel), Vero Beach (Indian River Symphonic Association), Gainesville (University of Florida), Fort Myers (Barbara B. Mann), and Daytona Beach (Peabody Auditorium).

It will perform two programmes that will include Brahms: Violin Concerto op. 77, D major, and Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4. op. 36, F minor, as well as Beethoven's Symphony No. 5.

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