Royal Scottish National Orchestra's Departing Music Director Says It Should Leave Its Glasgow Home for Edinburgh
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
The Herald [Glasgow]
By Phil Miller
It is a dramatic final flourish ó one which his many admirers might recognise from his performances on stage. Alexander Lazarev, the departing principal conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, has declared that the nation's orchestra should move from its historic home in Glasgow to Edinburgh.
The Russian conductor, who will perform his last concert at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Saturday [23 April], believes that the RSNO should be based in the Usher Hall, as it is the best venue in Scotland, rather than at the Henry Wood Hall in the west end of Glasgow.
The maestro, who is to conduct a programme of works by Prokofiev this weekend, is leaving the orchestra after eight years, and StÈphane DenËve will assume the post of music director in September.
In an interview with The Herald, Lazarev said: "Now that I am leaving the RSNO, I would like to say something I have not said before. That the orchestra should have its home in Edinburgh, not Glasgow.
"The Usher Hall is a fantastic hall, one of the greatest in the world. It should be where the players always rehearse, where they reside." he said. But, last night, Julian de Ste. Croix, the acting chief executive of the orchestra, disagreed with the conductor's thesis. He said: "Maestro Lazarev is entitled to his opinion. The RSNO performs in some of Scotland's finest venues. However, Glasgow has been the home of the orchestra for over 100 years and will remain so for the foreseeable future."
Lazarev believes that the RSNO should look to the example of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, which is based at the Philharmonic Hall in the city and has full-time access to it.
If the orchestra did leave Glasgow, it may not affect the hall's programme, as the orchestra would still have to perform in the city as part of its national remit. However, it would represent a loss of prestige for the city and a break in the orchestra's tradition, which stretches back to 1891.
Last night, Louise Mitchell, director of the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, said it was unlikely the orchestra would ever leave the city but said the base of any national orchestra was a "red herring".
"The RSNO is very much part of Glasgow's musical life," she said. "Where their offices are is not important, but where the audience is, that's important, and it is not only in Glasgow and Edinburgh but throughout the country.
"Where the orchestra is based is a bit of a red herring. I can understand that they want to spend more time rehearsing at the concert hall but it is just not possible. I doubt they would have unlimited rehearsal time at the Usher Hall, either."
The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall was built to replace the St. Andrews Hall, which burned down in 1962. The first stone was laid in April 1989 and it was completed in only 864 days. It was originally to be the Glasgow International Concert Hall but royal status was granted after completion. The RSNO is a key part of its annual programming.
Lazarev's comments come as he was awarded an honorary professorship in the School of Slavonic, Central and East European Studies at Glasgow University.
He said: "The experiences I have had in my eight years as principal conductor of the RSNO are reward enough, but I realise too that others have valued what we have achieved in that time. Scotland should be proud to have such talent."
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