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World first for Scottish orchestra

Key quote "This is a huge step forward for the RSNO and its customers, and overnight has turned our website into one of the richest in the orchestral world." - Simon Woods, chief executive

Story in full SCOTLAND'S national orchestra is to broadcast its recordings and sell thousands of tracks across the internet, in a move believed to be a world first. The Royal Scottish National Orchestra will offer its audience continuous streaming of classical music, enabling listeners to hear its productions round the clock.

The orchestra's website, www.rsno.org.uk will offer access to hundreds of classic recordings, dating back to the 1960s and in many cases long unavailable.

And through a partnership with the online retailer Classical World Limited, it also links to 57,000 other tracks from 40 record labels, mostly classical but running to jazz and blues.

Subscribers pay 8.80 a month for unlimited streaming of music to their computers and eight free downloaded tracks.

"We are using the RSNO site as a way to bring the whole concept of online music to our audiences," the orchestra's chief executive, Simon Woods, said. "You can pretty much use it as internet radio.

"There are many people in our audience who would go to our website to look at concert information, and find out what the orchestra is doing, who aren't likely to have iTunes accounts."

A scan of the site showed a rich variety, from Faure's Requiem to Beethoven's Piano works by Alfred Brendel, promising to turn a home computer into an enormous music collection.

Lighter fare included jazz classics by Ella Fitzgerald and a guide to classical works used in popular films.

Highlights of the RSNO's rare recordings include Richard Strauss's Alpine Symphony, and the symphonies of Prokofiev and Dvorak conducted by Neeme Jarvi, the former RSNO music director. Another classic is Edward Elgar's choral work, The Dream of Gerontius, conducted by Sir Alexander Gibson, the legendary conductor and founder of Scottish Opera.

Mr Woods stressed that what was truly unique about the system was its integrated links to forthcoming RSNO concerts.

At the touch of a button, customers could play the music, read about the concert and the composers, and buy the music.

"I don't think any orchestra has gone as far as we have in integrating a full music service into their website," he said. "This is a huge step forward for the RSNO and its customers, and overnight has turned our website into one of the richest in the orchestral world."

The London Symphony Orchestra has made its recordings available for downloading, and some major US orchestras have done the same. The composer Peter Maxwell Davies offers work for download from his site, while the Chandos record label has made its stock available too.

"It is certainly good to see orchestras doing things like this," said Martin Cullingford, deputy editor of Gramophone magazine. "Many people thought downloading and classical music just would not go, actually the complete opposite has happened and classical music enthusiasts have seen the internet as a way of getting hold of recordings that are out of print."

 
 
 

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