VIOLINIST Nicola Benedetti and composer James MacMillan are to spearhead a major Scottish cultural visit to India in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games.
They will join forces with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow for three high-profile concerts in the spring.
The visit - organised in partnership with the British Council - is being billed as the centrepiece of a special programme being planned by the orchestra in the run-up to the sporting extravaganza next summer.
Benedetti and MacMillan will also lead a series of schools concerts and workshops while the party is visiting Chennai, New Delhi and Mumbai for the concerts.
Other highlights include a special concert at the Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow in January with the celebrated Indian composer, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist,
AR Rahman, who won two Oscars for his work on the film Slumdog Millionaire.
Shortly before the Indian tour gets underway in March, MacMillan will conduct a special “Commonwealth Day” BBC SSO concert in Glasgow of his own iconic work about the Nairn woman famously tried for witchcraft in 1662.
Audiences following the Queen’s Baton Relay, which Her Majesty will launch at Buckingham Palace next Wednesday, will also get a chance to regularly hear the BBC SSO as the orchestra and its chief conductor, Donald Runnicles, have recorded specially-commissioned music which will accompany the baton’s progress around the Commonwealth.
Nicola Benedetti said: “This will be my very first trip to India and I am so excited. It’s a highlight of my coming year because as well as playing some wonderful concerts, the orchestra and I will be staying in each of the cities for a few days, giving workshops and getting involved with the local communities.
“This is an element of music making I have dedicated so much time to and I’m thrilled to be joining other organisations equally serious about exposing this music to all parts of a community, not just to the folk who can afford to attend the concerts.”
John Wallace, principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “The tour of India is the most incredible opportunity for a group of our students from the music and the film and TV departments. Our partnership with BBC Scotland is enabling them to experience first-hand, mentored by professionals, the interface between the West and one of the most dynamic cultures in the world.
“Mumbai, with its Bollywood film studios is like a 21st century New Orleans and Hollywood rolled into one, and in Chennai, they will also be collaborating with students from the composer of the music for Slumdog Millionaire, AR Rahman’s conservatory. With James Macmillan conducting and Nicola Benedetti as soloist, it does not get any better than this.”
Gavin Reid, director of the BBC SSO, said: “We are thrilled to be celebrating the Commonwealth Games with such an exciting and ambitious programme of events celebrating and sharing the wonderful musical culture of both Scotland and India.”
AR Rahman, voted one of the world’s most influential people by Time magazine four years ago, will be in Glasgow in January along with students from his own music conservatory in Chennai for a concert with the BBC SSO and the RSC as part of the city’s winter music festival, which launches later this month.