About Us

The internationally celebrated Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO) is made up of a unique collection of talented musicians who inspire and connect with people of all ages.

We aim to provide as many opportunities as possible for people to hear live orchestral music by touring the length and breadth of Scotland and around the world as proud ambassadors for Scottish cultural excellence. In recent years, the Orchestra has travelled throughout Europe, the Far East, India and the USA.

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Playing with the sco is a great privilege and as a group of musicians we love the interaction we get with our audience. All the different venues we play in and all the different audiences we perform to keep everything fresh for the musicians and keep the music feeling alive.
Eric de Wit, Cellist

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra makes a significant contribution to Scottish life both on the concert platform and beyond, working in schools, universities, hospitals, care homes and community centres through its award-winning Creative Learning programme.

We are delighted to welcome our new Principal Conductor Maxim Emelyanychev this Season, as we celebrate several significant anniversaries. In 2020, it will be 250 years since the death of one of the greatest of all composers - Ludwig van Beethoven. We present all nine of his symphonies over four separate programmes, conducted by three of his most insightful interpreters - Maxim Emelyanychev, our Principal Guest Conductor Emmanuel Krivine and Andrew Manze.

In 1979, the SCO gave its first concerts in the newly refurbished Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh. We celebrate 40 years of music-making, with a beautiful programme of Haydn, Mozart and Schumann, directed by a great and longstanding friend of the Orchestra, pianist Piotr Anderszewski, who as it happens, will also be marking his own 50th birthday!  

It is 10 years since Gregory Batsleer became Director of the SCO Chorus. Celebrating this wonderful partnership, Greg leads both Orchestra and Chorus in a programme of music by Haydn and Stravinsky, which also features one of our two Leaders, Stephanie Gonley, in Bach’s glorious Violin Concerto in A minor.

Later in the Season our other Leader, Benjamin Marquise Gilmore, joins forces with Principal Cello Philip Higham and Guest Director Kristian Bezuidenhout to perform Beethoven’s Triple Concerto. Completing our line-up of SCO soloists, Principal Double Bass Nikita Naumov presents a new concerto by Hungarian composer Péter Eötvös.

This Season’s Featured Artist, Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto, is truly a musical chameleon. His has a fresh, engaging performance style, as well as natural skills as an improviser. Across three concerts, Pekka brings a fresh approach to Bach, Haydn and Beethoven, directs a performance of Sibelius Symphony No 5, and introduces us to a gifted cohort of contemporary composers: Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner (from the American indie-rock band The National) and newly-appointed SCO Associate Composer Anna Clyne.

As always, we showcase the very best of Scotland’s most distinguished international artists. There is a welcome return by Mezzo-Soprano Karen Cargill with songs by ‘a talent kept quiet’, Alma Mahler, a new concerto by Helen Grime for percussionist Colin Currie, and a ‘double bill’ with Nicola Benedetti featuring Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante with violist Lawrence Power.

The SCO has strong relationships with many eminent guest conductors, including Joseph Swensen, Emmanuel Krivine , François Leleux, John Storgårds, Richard Egarr and Andrew Manze, and has recently appointed Maxim Emelyanychev as Principal Conductor from September 2019.

The Orchestra enjoys close affiliations with many leading composers and has commissioned more than 150 new works, including pieces by Sir James MacMillan, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Sally Beamish, Karin Rehnqvist, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Hafliði Hallgrímsson and Lotta Wennäkoski.

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra receives core funding from the Scottish Government as one of Scotland’s five National Performing Arts Companies.

What really drives us to perform, is seeing the expressions on people's faces and watching them light up when we are playing.
William Stafford, Clarinettist