Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Gleneagles Gala Concert

City Halls, Glasgow

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Miranda Heggie


CELEBRATING an exciting new partnership with Gleneagles hotel, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s gala concert on Friday evening was a triumphant showcase of some of the very best of Scotland’s young musicians. Opening with Sir James MacMillan conducting two of his own works, The Death of Oscar is a complex tone poem inspired by the ancient Celtic warrior Ossian’s anguish after losing his beloved son. From the outset, the orchestra has a vivid, animated sound, wonderfully evocative of the nature of the work. The synchronicity of players displayed here was particularly impressive, with jaunty, jazz influenced rhythms in the trumpets and thunderously resolute percussion. Macmillan’s The World’s Ransoming is a work for solo cor anglais and orchestra, based on the biblical events of Maundy Thursday; Christ’s betrayal by Judas. Soloist Clara Lafuente Garcia, who was the winner of RCS’s MacMillan Concerto Competition in 2016, played with a beautiful warmth and suppleness, gliding above a highly intricate orchestral soundscape.

The second half of the evening saw Gary Walker take to the podium for Britten’s Spring Symphony. The trio of soloists, all RCS alumni, each brought a distinct character to the piece. Mezzo soprano Penelope COusland gave a warm and contemplative interpretation of AUden’s text Out on the lawn I lie in bed while Kate Valentine and Jamie MacDougall were both spirited and compelling Fair and Fair, for tenor and soprano soli. With a chorus from both the junior and senior conservatoire, this was a marvelous highlight of RCS’s music making at every level. The RCS Chorus made a vibrant sound, the full-bodied alto section particularly standing out, while the Junior Conservatoire Choir performed with a jubilant energy, and with excellent precision.