The orchestra that can’t tell symphony from concerto

The orchestra that can’t tell symphony from concerto


norman lebrecht

November 05, 2017

The fifth concerto?

Or spell Tchaikovsky on a concert poster.

Or Stravinsky.

Concerns have been voiced to Slipped Disc by eagle-eyed subscribers to the Royal Scottish National Symphony Orchestra.

Time for the RSNO to visit a new optician.


  • Halldor says:

    ‘Roysl Scottish National Symphony Orchestra’ Very droll. I see what you did there.

  • Thomas says:

    Shambolic and utterly embarrassing for a national organisation.

    Can the head of marketing be contacted for comment?

    • Geoff - The Angry Glaswegian says:

      Thank you, Thomas. Carol and Krishna Thiagarajan should expect an email from me tomorrow. How utterly embarrassing- not once, not twice but THREE times! Get your act together RSNO, you are a national performing company, with a band of impeccable musicians playing their socks of each week and you advertise like this… questions need to be answered!

  • Jilly says:

    Another 5* for the RSNO administration team.

    A cracking orchestra consistently let down by the shoddy backroom staff. Can some of their government funding be spent on english lessons?

  • Robert Roy says:

    I was getting ready to enjoy some schadenfreude when I realised it was MY local orchestral that was the culprit! Yes, it’s pretty shoddy and I suspect the offending missives hadn’t been properly proofread but that’s no excuse. It’s the first time I’ve noticed the RSNO make such a silly mistake and I hope is the LAST time.

    I should say that spelt correctly or not, the Orchestra will PLAY these works superbly.

  • Jules says:

    This is an endemic problem in arts organisations.
    If the musicians were as consistently poor as the administrative staff they’d be on their way to the dole office.
    In this case I don’t see why the RSNO can’t outsource their marketing to a professional company and say goodbye to these heinous errors once and for all.

    • John Borstlap says:

      According to my uncle who plays the tuba in the orchestra, they hired a dislectic under the pressure of the pc policies of the union, to provide equal opportunities to alphabetically-challenged people. Spelling may go wrong but social justice is done. The advantage seems to be, as I see it, that a symphony orchestra is no longer be seen as elitist. After all, spelling is mere conventional agreement, a cultural construct, which can be replaced by some other construct and why not a fairer one? I’m all for atadptaiton to poeple’s persanol speling oppinion.


  • Analeck Kram-Hammerbauer says:

    The guy on the poster is HOT!

  • Anonymous says:

    Should have gone to Specsavers

  • Halldor says:

    Typos happen: proof-reading is a specialised professional skill and I don’t know many orchestras that can afford it. And some of the comments above – the singling out of individual staff without any knowledge of the actual circumstances – is deeply spiteful. For shame.

    Orchestral management staff pretty much invariably work longer hours for lower pay than musicians – and they invariably take the rap whenever human errors occur. But when the violins play sharp, the woodwinds fluff an entry or the horns split a note, you don’t see their colleagues in the office bursting with synthetic outrage, hurling accusations of incompetence or accusing players of undermining *their* hard work. Only sympathy. For goodness’ sake, have a quick snigger, sympathise with their embarrassment, by all means. But at the very least show some basic decency.

    • Anonymous says:

      We’re talking about a national organisation with an 8-figure budget; I think they can afford spell check software (or use a free website such as

      If I type Tchaikovsy in this comment box it immediately changes to Tchaikovsky. If I go back and change it to Tchaikovsy I get a dotted red line under it. Why can’t the text on an A1 poster displayed all over Edinburgh get the same treatment?

      • John Borstlap says:

        Western spelling of Tchaikovsky is, in fact, phonetic. It can also be spelled Chaikowsky or Tjaikovski. For Russians, it is still very hard to write the correct letters, as we know:

        «Мы продолжаем пытаться»

      • Halldor says:

        There are 101 ways things like this can creep through, even with spellcheck software(which in my experience is abundantly capable of supplying mis-spellings of proper nouns, especially non-English ones). This text is far more likely to have been inputted through a graphic design programme rather than a word processor, in any case. And don’t tell me you’ve got a spellchecker that knows how many concertos Tchaikovsky wrote, too?

  • PaulD says:

    My local orchestra sent out an email promoting a concert featuring, “Fauré’s “Paellas et Mélisande.”” Sounded tasty, but I assume it was an auto-correction gone bad.

    The performance was fine.

    • John Borstlap says:


      On an announcement of fragments from Wagner’s Ring on the website of some enthusiastic but rather careless youth orchestra, audiences were promised, among other remarkable items, ‘Sickfried Rhino Fart’.

  • Tish Roskams says:

    Where ever you look there is evidence of lack of knowledge, respect for or understanding of classical music…look at the BBC Radio 3 site to see things like piano trios referred to as an orchestra etc. Spelling of Russian names is phonetic though. Closing music departments is endemic even though the evidence is there supporting listening to classical music helps everyone academically. Why employ such unaware people in marketing?

  • Nick says:

    Hallidor is correct – typos do happen – but very rarely! In fact a professional organisation has a duty to ensure that they do NOT occur. The fact that several have occurred with the RSNO is illustrative of poor and shoddy management both of the department which produces the materials and of the general management which permits it to continue. This has nothing to do with opticians, but I appreciate the joke. It is to do with professionalism as opposed to rank amateurism.

    • Halldor says:

      I repeat: it happens with major publishers, it happens with the BBC, it happens in every national newspaper. It happens, and it’s a lot more likely to happen in small, underpaid, overworked, multitasking departments (I’m guessing from your comments that you’ve never worked in orchestral management) – where few people involved in checking marketing material will not also have been involved in producing it (an absolute pre-requisite for accurate proofreading).

      No-one “permits” it to continue, any more than a conductor “permits” a horn player to split a note (a far more common occurrence in an orchestral organisation than typos). They’re a fact of life, they’re mortifying for those concerned and they’re no more indicative of an organisational failure than the orchestra van getting a puncture or a 2nd violin missing an entry. There’s a real nastiness (backed by basic ignorance) about the tone of some of the comments further up here. Remember when we all used to claim that listening to classical music made you a more thoughtful, more tolerant, (god knows) even more intelligent person?

      • John Borstlap says:

        Yes…. but the downside is that it also makes you more critical and more sensitive to violations of the Good, Beautiful and True. The challenge is to balance both acquisitions.