Breaking: Scots name Dane as music director

Breaking: Scots name Dane as music director


norman lebrecht

May 25, 2017

Thomas Søndergård is to be music director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra from September 2018. He succeeds Peter Oundjian.

Søndergård, 48, has been the orchestra’s principal guest since 2011 so they haven’t had to look far.

He is presently principal conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, which he will leave in 2018.

AskonasHolt have their thumbprints on the contract.

Obligatory quotes (does anyone read them?):

RSNO Music Director Designate Thomas Søndergård: “From the moment I was invited to stand in at the last moment to conduct Shostakovich’s Symphony No 11 nearly seven years ago I felt something important was going to happen. With so little time to prepare I felt we would have a lot of work to do, and yet once we began rehearsing our working relationship clicked in such a way that by the time of the performances, my first in Scotland, I think that together we were able to come close to the heart of this great music. Since then we have grown together, explored a broad range of repertoire, gradually pushing the boundaries of what is possible, and our connection is as strong as ever. It’s wonderful to have reached this point and I look forward to the future musical journeys to come in my tenure as Music Director.

‘I must thank Peter Oundjian for his tireless support and his invaluable contribution. This is an ensemble in great shape with an insatiable appetite for music-making. I’m delighted that Peter has agreed to continue his work with the RSNO after 2017:18. Scotland has a strong musical heritage and I feel privileged to play an increasingly involved role in the future of its national orchestra.’

RSNO Music Director Peter Oundjian: ‘I’ve enjoyed a tremendously fruitful time with the RSNO. The Orchestra’s passion for music-making is a thrill to be a part of. To welcome Thomas as my successor is both heart-warming and comforting, knowing that the musicians I’ve known for the past fifteen years will be in the most capable of hands. It promises to be a tremendously exciting future for Thomas and the RSNO and I wish them every success.’

RSNO Chief Executive Dr Krishna Thiagarajan: ‘In this business it is reasonably normal for the courtship of potential Music Directors to be relatively brief, a handful of dates before the decision is made. In this instance the musicians have had eight years’ experience of working with Thomas Søndergård, five of which as Principal Guest Conductor. That the Orchestra was virtually unanimous in its decision to appoint Thomas to succeed Peter speaks volumes about the strength of the relationship and the mutual respect they share. We hit the ground running with this appointment and over the next few years our supporters will witness their orchestra striving for new heights in performance and recording excellence.

‘I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Peter Oundjian for his outstanding tenure as Music Director, which has brought about a period of extraordinary concerts, tours and recordings. I’m delighted that Peter has agreed to continue his relationship with the RSNO as he is a superb musician who is much loved by musicians and audiences in Scotland and across the globe.”

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop: ‘Congratulations to Thomas Søndergård for his recent appointment as the RSNO’s Music Director Designate. I am fully confident his extensive experience working with orchestras around the world will hugely benefit Scotland’s classical music-making scene and our communities, and I am personally looking forward to welcoming his first season in post. Thomas continues the outstanding work of his predecessor, Peter Oundjian, whom I commend for his excellent tenure as Music Director, for his successful tours in the USA, Spain and China and for steering the RSNO through its 125th anniversary. I expect the orchestra to continue to thrive and grow under Thomas’ guidance.’





  • Iain Scott says:

    Of course nobody reads these releases which is why it was announced at an open rehearsal today in the fabulous new RSNO hall with Thomas Sondergard.
    A popular an inspired choice as Music Director judging by the orchestra reactions. As a subscriber it’s good news as well for us as Sondergard has emerged as a marvellous distinctive musician. He just gets better and better with the orchestra.
    Peter Oundjan is a great communicator and I hope he continues to play an ongoing role.
    If you want to hear the Music Director designate in action go to Edinburgh Usher Hall on Friday or Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Saturday. Sibelius 5 is on.
    Ps why should you look far when outstanding talent is already there?

  • John Groves says:

    Excellent news! It bodes well for Scotland’s arts scene!