RORY MACDONALD AND THE ORCHESTRA OF SCOTTISH OPERA
St Andrew’s in the Square, Glasgow, Sun 4 Mar
Although it is inevitable - and indeed right - that young Scottish musicians don’t always continue their education and develop their careers on home ground, it is nonetheless satisfying when the raw talent that left returns with a highly polished gleam. Fairly certain to be in such shining form is 26-year-old conductor Rory Macdonald, who makes his Scottish professional debut with the Orchestra of Scottish Opera in the popular St Andrew’s in the Square Sunday afternoon series.
After three years at Cambridge, where the Stirling-born Macdonald spent as much time as possible conducting and playing violin, a chance encounter with Ivan Fischer of the Budapest Festival Orchestra led to a two year apprenticeship with the Hungarian maestro. ‘He is a brilliant orchestral trainer,’ says Macdonald, ‘and I learnt a massive amount from him, as well as a lot of repertoire.’ Back in the UK, Macdonald’s path of continued success wound its way round Glyndebourne, ENO, Paris Opera and the Young Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where, he says, ‘I did everything under the sun from conducting and coaching to offstage door knocks.’
Now, Macdonald’s main role is as Assistant Conductor at the Hallé Orchestra. ‘I’m having a great time there,’ he says, ‘and am incredibly lucky to have met conductors who are interested in younger people, particularly Mark Elder, the Hallé’s Music Director.’
Opera, however, seems to be where Macdonald’s heart lies. ‘Living in the theatre is something that takes over your life and I love the whole storytelling side and making all the elements of opera come together.’ Having grown up with Scottish Opera, he is thrilled to be returning to the company that gave him his first taste of the operatic stage - aged nine as a fox cub in Janacek’s Cunning Little Vixen.