RSNO to lose inspirational chief to US orchestra

THE chief executive of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, seen as a key figure in its growing success in the past five years, will step down next spring to take the helm of a major US orchestra.

Simon Woods' departure comes as the RSNO's music director, the high-profile French conductor Stphane Denve, has also set a deadline for his exit. Both men joined the orchestra in 2005 and are credited with boosting audiences at home and raising its critical profile through international tours.

In May, Mr Woods heads to the western US as executive director of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. His new job was described yesterday as an endorsement of the RSNO's high standing. Denve does not leave until early 2012.

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But the announcement could leave the 120-year-old organisation facing an interregnum at a time when Scottish national arts companies are bracing for budget cuts. Mr Woods has overseen successful audience initiatives from the accessible "Naked Classics" concerts to simplified subscription deals, and helped appoint new principal musicians.

"It has been an extremely difficult decision to leave the RSNO," he said. "I know that the superb musicians of the RSNO and its enormously talented staff team will ensure that the organisation goes from strength to strength long after my departure."