The Scotsman Sessions #214: Christopher Gough

Welcome to the award-winning Scotsman Sessions. With performing arts activity curtailed for the foreseeable future, we are commissioning a series of short video performances from artists all around the country and releasing them on scotsman.com, with introductions from our critics. Here, Christopher Gough, principal horn with the RSNO, plays his own solo composition, Monuments

Christopher Gough has all the necessary credentials and more to be principal horn of the RSNO, the high-pressure post he secured immediately after graduating from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland five years ago. For not only is the 30-year-old Londoner a highly-skilled horn player from an extensive musical family with solid Scots roots, he is also multi-talented, with an unquestionable flair for composition that has only recently come to wider public notice.

“I dabbled in my teens as a junior student at the Royal College of Music,” he says. Later at the RCS he continued studies with composer Rory Boyle, but getting the RSNO job gave him little time to take things further.

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The opportunity for a sabbatical last year let him pursue a masters degree in scoring for film, TV and videogames run by Boston-based Berklee College of Music at its Spanish campus in Valencia. Though partly disrupted by the pandemic, Gough competed the course, receiving its Outstanding Student Award.

Christopher Gough

His studies paid off instantly, with two quick-fire commissions for the RSNO: the world premiere last December of his Three Belarusian Folk Songs; and more recently, his movingly cinematic score, Clydebank ’41, for the orchestra’s 80th anniversary commemoration of the Clydebank Blitz.

“I don’t write original stuff,” he modestly insists. “I’m better writing to a script or extra musical idea, taking music I’ve heard and mixing it with my own style.” Which is exactly what he’s done with his solo horn work, Monuments, written for a fellow student in 2012.

“I used to wander through Kelvingrove Park on Sundays admiring the beautiful statues. This piece is based on one that commemorates soldiers lost in the Boer War. Although outwardly beautiful, statues can have a darker symbolism. This is the first time I’ve actually played it myself.”

For more on Christopher Gough, visit https://www.rsno.org.uk/info/christopher-gough/

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