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Shetland Arts and RSNO Partnership Success

by Deborah Leggate -

Shetland Arts is delighted that its partnership with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) was so successful, after a weekend of very well-attended concerts and events.

Shetland Arts made an approach to the RSNO in early 2010 about the possibility of a visit to Shetland in the year of the Cultural Olympiad. The past weekend has been the result of Shetland Arts and the RSNO working in partnership preparing for this trip for almost two years.

Last weekend (1st – 5th March) 70 musicians from the RSNO travelled from their base in Glasgow to Shetland for Out and About in Shetland – five days of rehearsals and performances, education and community activities, and workshops and masterclasses across the Islands.

In 2011 Chris Stout was commissioned to compose a substantial work for orchestra which served as the centrepiece of the Orchestra's very successful Sunday Symphony concert, which has been praised by both local and national media.

Chris also wrote a motif which was used as the starting point of a composition and performance project, the Outer Isles Project: a collaboration between the RSNO and local musicians, supported by Shetland Arts. The Outer Isles Project involved RSNO and local musicians at separate locations in Shetland's outer isles; Unst, Skerries, Foula and Fair Isle; playing their interpretations of Chris Stout's motif and live video-streamed back to an audience at the Garrison Theatre and world-wide viewers on Shetland Arts" website, Promote Shetland's website and the RSNO website. The project was the result of a unique collaboration between Shetland Arts, the RSNO, Promote Shetland, The University of Highlands and Islands and Shetland Islands Council. The project was unlike any seen before in Shetland, attracted viewers across the world and required months of preparation.

On Monday 5 March the RSNO played a concert for Shetland's primary schools at the Clickimin. The school groups attending the concert had been preparing for the visit by participating in online workshops using the online community for Scottish schools, Glow. Shetland Arts believes this concert was the largest gathering of primary school aged children at an arts event in Shetland, ever. There were a total of 779 attendees.

Gwilym Gibbons, Director of Shetland Arts, said: “It has been a huge pleasure to work closely on this project with the RSNO on what was, at its conception, a very ambitious and brave project. From my first meetings with Simon Woods, the RSNO's Chief Executive, back in 2010 and more recently with Simon Woods, the RSNO's new CEO, and his team, a relationship was established that I believe not only led to the success of the past week but is the beginning of a new long term relationship between the RSNO and Shetland.”

Ellen Thomson, Director of Education and Community Partnerships at the RSNO, said: “The partnership between the RSNO and Shetland Arts has been fun and hugely rewarding for both of us. The organisation clearly knows the local community well and understands the aspirations of those involved in music making in Shetland. Together we achieved everything we set out to do in Out and About in Shetland. The Outer Isles project on Friday evening should serve as a lasting legacy for the project and illustrates how well Shetland Arts, Shetland Islands Council, the University of Highlands and Islands, Promote Shetland and the local schools came together to enable the broadcast of this event.

Shetland Arts and the RSNO would also like to thank Creative Scotland, TOTAL E&P UK Limited, Loganair, Capital Solutions, NorthLink Ferries and Youth Music Initiative for their generous contributions to the project.

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