“Five years ago Scottish classical music was staring into the abyss,” writes Igor Toronyi-Lalic in Thursday’s (3/18) Times (London). “Cuts, closures and mergers threatened the very existence of Scotland’s opera house and professional orchestras. … But how the laid-low have grown mighty. Scotland today is in the grip of a classical music renaissance. Leading the charge is [Donald] Runnicles, the big-framed, fierce-faced, soft-voiced 53-year-old man from Edinburgh turned international conducting powerhouse. Last year he became the principal conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. His upcoming concerts with the orchestra in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh are packed with works by the composers with whom he has become synonymous: Strauss, Wagner, Beethoven and Mahler.” The Scottish Chamber Orchestra hired Simon Rattle protégé Robin Ticciati and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra has been invigorated by Music Director Stéphane Denéve. “These changes accompanied the transformation of Glasgow’s City Halls from a boarded-up Formica wasteland into one of the most handsome concert halls in Britain, as well as the building of a glistening new world-class concert hall for humble Perth, all at the same time as Scottish composers such as James MacMillan, Judith Weir and James Dillon continued to lead the way with acclaimed new compositions.”

Posted March 18, 2010