BBC SSO Skye high for residency on island


photo of orchestra

The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra will become the first professional symphony orchestra to take up residency in Skye when they arrive en masse for three days this month.  

Over the three days, the BBC SSO will stage a series of concerts, surprise performances and interactive workshops on the island from 11-13 February. 

During this innovative residency, pop up performances will take place across the island in addition to two exclusive concerts for Primary and secondary pupils as part of the BBC’s nationwide TEN Pieces project. There will also be workshops for pupils from all the islands’ Primary schools, as well as Portree High School and Sabhal Mor Ostaig college students. The culmination of the residency is a public concert on 13 February which will be the first time a full professional symphony orchestra has performed on Skye.  

Primary school pupils will also be given exclusive access to the orchestra’s rehearsal ahead of the Friday night concert, during which time they will have the opportunity to take part in a workshop which will see them draw pictures of the orchestra. Their pictures will be displayed in Portree High School before the public concert.  

Gavin Reid, Director of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra said, “The orchestra is committed to performing throughout Scotland and to reaching as wide an audience as possible. This residency on Skye offers a unique opportunity to engage with the local community and hopefully inspire the next generation of musicians and music lovers.”  

Schools’ workshops are being led by music leader Tim Steiner, who was previously the creative director of the BBC’s Over the Rainbow programme which documented the search to find a Dorothy for The Wizard of Oz. Steiner’s interactive sessions will give pupils the opportunity to learn a piece of music and play with members of the BBC SSO.   

Skye based ATLAS Arts has commissioned artist David Lemm to work collaboratively with pupils at Portree Primary School to create a digital artwork. Part of their animation will be shown during the concert on Friday night. Pupils will also learn valuable digital media skills, and be filmed by Gaelic TV programme Dè a-nis?  

At the Friday evening public concert, the BBC SSO will be conducted by Jessica Cottis with soloist Richard Watkins at Portree High School. Jessica re-joins the SSO having previously been mentored by the orchestra’s chief conductor Donald Runnicles. 

The Highland Council’s Music Development Officer, Norman Bolton said:  “A long time has been spent discussing and planning this residency and it will be very exciting for so many pupils on Skye to experience the unique thrill of seeing and hearing a full symphony orchestra and getting involved in a much closer way with the musicians at the workshop sessions.  I’m sure this unique experience will be talked about for many years.”  

The residency on Skye builds on the orchestra’s thriving learning and outreach programme, including the Ten Pieces initiative which was launched last year. The BBC SSO is also a major partner in Big Noise, Scotland’s innovative project for social change through music and it maintains a close association with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, working over a variety of disciplines with conductors, composers, soloists and orchestral players.  

Tickets for the concert at Portree High School, Skye on 13 February are available from






2 Feb 2015
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