RSNO goes digital with its Friday Night Club
- Carol Main
- 28 April 2020
New online series of never-before-seen concert footage keeps audiences connected with the orchestra
Back in October, as carefree autumnal days signalled the start of orchestras' new winter seasons, no one could have foreseen that their equally celebratory closing concerts simply wouldn't happen. How fortuitous then that the Royal Scottish National Orchestra was already dipping its toe in the digital water, looking to live stream fully from autumn of this year.
The trial content was never going to be consigned to the cutting room floor, but nor was it intended to constitute the RSNO's Friday Night Club, a brand-new online series of never-before-seen concert footage. 'We were working on digital strategies, with a new team in place, and planning to launch our first season of live streams next season,' says the orchestra's Chief Executive, Alistair Mackie.
Now in post for just over a year, his digital vision could not have had better timing. 'On our first attempt, technical failure meant that everything went dead an hour before the concert, but somehow each individual camera captured what it was seeing.' The result was the globally accessible performance of Mahler's Symphony No 1, premiered on 24 April, with almost 1,500 viewers and rising. 'It felt a shame to have this test material and not use it,' says Mackie.
Next up on Fri 1 May, audiences can hear Cardiff Singer of the World, Scottish mezzo-soprano Catriona Morison, sing excerpts from Bizet's Carmen, with Conductor Laureate Neeme Järvi. The following week, Sir Roger Norrington conducts Debussy. 'People are doing pre-concert virtual drinks parties, which is a lovely way for the orchestra to remain part of their social life,' says Mackie. 'We have a great international reach too, with our highest numbers being in England and Spain, which we'll definitely explore further for future touring.' While digital will never replace the thrill of live performance, it is, says Mackie, 'great music-making and a fantastic journey to be on.'
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