AS ONE of Scotland’s most acclaimed actors, Siobhan Redmond is no stranger to delivering lines to an expectant audience. But even a career as long and diverse as hers throws up a challenge every now and then.
This weekend, Redmond will join the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) to narrate Stuart Paterson’s new version of The Snow Queen. The music is new too – written by Scottish composer Savourna Stevenson.
“It’s going to be a voyage of discovery for all of us,” laughs Redmond, who is at least familiar with the orchestra/narration juggling act, having narrated The Snowman with the RSNO three years ago.
“I think this is going to be much more difficult, to be honest,” she says. “Because there are no visuals to go by like last time, so I’m just going to be working from the conductor.”
Actors, as Redmond points out, like to deliver their lines as slow or fast as they feel appropriate. On this occasion, however, the music will dictate the pace. But although Redmond “may not have as much time as I would like” to linger over the text, the upside is she’ll be “standing in the middle of the best sound system in the world.”
Commissioned by Children’s Classic Concerts for their Christmas Wonderland show, The Snow Queen is the latest in a series of works designed for audiences aged four to 14.
Hans Christian Andersen’s 19th-century tale of good versus evil still has resonance today, and was the perfect fit for Redmond. “I’ve always loved fairy stories,” she says, “and even at the age of 54 I collect volumes of them. The Snow Queen is my favourite, and I think Savourna has written beautiful music which expresses all the different dramas contained in that story.”
Now based in London, Redmond spent her childhood in Glasgow – something that will be on her mind when she faces the pre-Christmas excitement of her young audience this weekend.
“I enjoy being back home in Scotland at this time of year, because it reminds me of how I felt as a child looking forward to Christmas,” she says. “And of course I like the festive apparel. I’ll be wearing quite a lot of sparkle – some of which is mine, some of which is being hired for me – that’s if I can get into it.”
• Children’s Classic Concerts: The Snow Queen is at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 7 December; Usher Hall, Edinburgh, 8 December, www.rsno.org.uk