Royal Scottish National Orchestra: Naked Classics

Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, Thu 26 Oct


Naked and orchestras are two words which (probably thankfully) don’t usually appear in the same sentence. The RSNO’s new Naked Classics series is set to change that, albeit the collective body of the orchestra that is being stripped bare for all to see. What makes it tick, how does it work, why does the composer use particular instruments, what happens in the music are some of the questions being addressed in a series of four concerts using multi-media presentations and the full orchestra to reveal the secrets behind the sound of some of the greatest symphonic pieces of classical music.

‘We’re reaching out not only to existing classical music audiences, but also to new audiences,’ explains series presenter, Paul Rissmann (pictured), ‘and what’s unique about it is that it’s not necessarily for people who know something about music. It experiments with a new concert format, which strips things down to the bare mechanics.’ Motivation partly came from the reality TV shows prevalent in popular culture. ‘You learn to do up a house or what it’s like being a master chef. I’m rubbish at cooking, but I’ll sit down to watch chefs in the kitchen. There is something of that energy and spirit with classical music and what it’s really like up there on the stage,’ says Rissmann.

In the first half, Rissmann and the orchestra give a 35-40 minute exploration of the piece. ‘The orchestra then plays it straight through, so the audience can focus on listening with a sense of discovery.’ For a project that also celebrates the skills and instruments of the orchestra, Stravinsky’s ballet score Petrushka is ideal. ‘It’s incredibly descriptive,’ says Rissmann, ‘and for anyone who’s even vaguely interested, a chance to find out a bit more about music in a relaxed and informal, but informative, way.’

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