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The road to EYM 2018: Music in Scotland

Posted 2 July 2018 at 12:59

Edinburgh is this year's host of Eurovision Young Musicians, which means that musicians from all over Europe will travel to Scotland to take part in the 19th edition of the contest. We indulged ourselves in local talent, and these are some highlights!

The classical music scene is thriving in Scotland, with many talents making a significant contribution to cultural life both in Scotland and internationally. With Eurovision Young Musicians around the corner, it is time to dig into the musical archives and see what Scotland has to offer.

Royal Scottish National Orchestra

The musicians of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra
The musicians of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra © 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 music scene, including performing at the opening ceremony of the Scottish Parliament building in 2004.
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.

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra was formed in December 1935 by Scottish composer and conductor Ian Whyte and is a key contributor to the BBC’s broadcasting and cultural role. The orchestra is based at the City Halls, Glasgow and has won several awards, including a Royal Philharmonic Society Award and four Gramophone Awards.
Its wide repertoire and flexible approach means the orchestra can perform complex contemporary pieces alongside major symphonic works.
The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra will also play a big part at Eurovision Young Musicians as each of the six finalists will perform a concerto movement conducted by Chief Conductor Thomas Dausgaard.
Not only is Scotland home to two internationally-known orchestra's, many great composers and conductors also get to call Scotland 'home':

Sir James Loy MacMillan

James MacMillan at work
James MacMillan at work © Hans van der Woerd
Sir James Loy MacMillan is one these Scots. He is a classical composer and conductor born in 1959. He studied composition at the University of Edinburgh and at Durham University. From 1986 until 1988, he was a lecturer in music at the Victoria University of Manchester. Right after his studies, he returned to Scotland and became Associate Composer with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
But it was in 1990 when his success really took off in the classicial establishment with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra's premier of The Confession of Isobel Gowdie at the Proms. After this performance he went on to achieve more success: a percussion concerto for fellow Scot Evelyn Glennie, composing a cello concerto for Mstislav Rostropovich - who is considered one of the greatest cellists of the 20th century - and his second opera the Sacrifice, which won a Royal Philharmonic Society Award.

Patrick Doyle

Patrick Doyle is a Scottish film composer, born in 1953. He is classically trained and studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music. In 1987, he joined the Renaissance Theatre Company as composer and musical director composing for plays such as Hamlet, As You Like It and Look Back in Anger.
He didn't only compose for plays, he also composed music for many award-winning movies like Sense and Sensibility, Bridget Jones's Diary, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Thor, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Murder on the Orient Express.
In October 2015, Patrick received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Soundtrack Academy during the Gent Film Festival in Belgium.

Craig Armstrong

Craig Armstrong in 2014
Craig Armstrong in 2014 © Craig Armstrong
Craig Armstrong was born in 1959 in Glasgow, Scotland. He graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in 1981 where he studied musical composition, violin and piano and has written music for the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the London Sinfonietta.
In 2007, Craig premiered his first opera as part of the Scottish opera, titled Five:15 - Operas Made in Scotland.
Besides composing classical music for an orchestra, Craig also composed music for films and musicals like Moulin Rouge!, Love Actually, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, The Great Gatsby and Bridget Jones's Baby.

Eurovision and Scotland

Every Eurovision fan knows Scotland, and especially the city of Edinburgh, quite well. The Eurovision Song contest in 1972 was held at the Usher Hall, which is also the stage for this year's Eurovision Young Musicians. Back in 1972, each performance was conducted by an orchestra. Only 18 countries took part and Luxembourg's Vicky Leandros won with the song Après Toi. The writer of the winning song, Yves Desca, also wrote the winning song of 1971 by Séverine. It was the first time in the history of the contest that the same songwriter won twice in a row and for two different countries.
Next week, we will let you know what to do whilst in Edinburgh, so stay tuned!
Josianne Zwart
Scotland2018United Kingdom
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Josianne Zwart