Registered Charity No SC023005
The Meadows Chamber Orchestra has frequently been described as one of the UK’s finest amateur orchestras.
For nearly 50 years the MCO, under its principal conductor and musical adviser, Peter Evans, has performed regularly and with critical acclaim to audiences in Edinburgh and beyond.
A tradition of imaginative programming and exciting performances has given the Orchestra a unique place in Scottish musical life. In recognition of its promotion of contemporary music, the Orchestra has received a number of Awards for Enterprise from the Performing Rights Society. Two of its many new commissions – works by Jonathan Pitkin and Helen Grime – have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3,and part of Richard Michael’s Meadows Suite for Jazz Piano and Orchestra was broadcast on BBC Scotland’s Jazz House programme.
The Orchestra normally promotes three or four concerts a year in Edinburgh – typically in late October, early December, Feb/March and May /June
Meadows on the Road
Although the orchestra’s main focus of activity is on the concerts of its own Edinburgh series, it also travels widely to play for music clubs and other organisations. Concerts have been given almost throughout Scotland including towns as widespread as Newton Stewart, Gatehouse, Oban, Ballater and Dunkeld as well as closer venues in Galashiels, Kelso, Peebles and Biggar.
Peter Evans, the Orchestra’s Principal Conductor and Musical Adviser, conducts a number of concerts in each season. However, guest conductors are also invited on a regular basis, including established names such as Garry Walker, James Lowe and Cecilia Weston; distinguished instrumentalist/conductors such as David Watkin and Gordon Bragg and composer/conductors such as Haflidi Hallgrimsson and Peter Nelson.
Many soloists are either established local musicians or gifted young players from Scotland and further afield who are in the early stages of establishing a national or international reputation.
The Orchestra has also had the pleasure of working with soloists of the calibre of violinists Corina Belcea, Thomas Bowes, Andrew Haveron, Alexander Janiczek and Anthony Marwood; violists Jane Atkin, Timothy Boulton and Paul Coletti; cellists Steven Doane, Philip Higham, Steven Isserlis, Robin Michael, Ursula Smith and Moray Welsh; pianists including Richard Beauchamp, Ian Brown, Stephen Kovacevic, Anna Malikova, Malcolm Martineau, Alexander Taylor and Irina Zaritskaya; singers Yamina Maamar, Emma Morwood, Louise Mott, Kirstin Sharpin and Lucy Shelton and organists Martin Haselbock and Tom Wilkinson.
All players perform on an amateur basis although some have wide experience of instrumental teaching and professional performing.
The Meadows Chamber Orchestra’s core repertoire is the Classical works of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert. In particular, the Orchestra is justly proud of its stylish and historically-informed performances of Mozart. There are links on the Recordings and Videos page of this website to Meadows performances of Mozart arias, concertos and the 40th Symphony.
The Orchestra also enlarges somewhat to tackle symphonies from the Romantic period by Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms, Dvorak and even [occasionally] Tchaikovsky, Mahler and Rachmaninov.
The strings of the Orchestra have enjoyed great success with major 20th century masterpieces such as Bartok’s Divertimento, Strauss’ Metamorphosen, Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony and Tippett’s Concerto for Double String Orchestra.
The Meadows has a long tradition of performing works by contemporary composers, especially those born or based in Scotland. These include works by established names such as Sally Beamish, Haflidi Hallgrimsson, Sir James Macmillan, Edward McGuire, John McLeod, Nigel Osborne and Judith Weir and commissions from James Clapperton, Lyell Creswell, Kenneth Dempster, Edward Harper, Peter Nelson and Ben Parry. There have also been major commissions from younger composers such as Karen Francis, Helen Grime, Jonathan Pitkin and Oliver Searle and performances of works by Njane Mugambi, Simon Smith, Huw Watkins and many others.
Finally, Meadows has also greatly enjoyed its interaction with the world of jazz, commissioning crossover works from jazz musicians including Richard Ingham, Dick Lee and Richard Michael. The latter’s Meadows Suite for Jazz Piano and Orchestra proved a great success at the Meadows’ 40th birthday concert and was repeated a couple of years later. Each of its five movements depicts the style of a different great jazz pianist of the past. The gorgeous 4th movement ‘Bill Evans’ , featuring outstanding young Scottish saxophonist Helena Kay, can be heard by following the link on the Recordings page.
The Orchestra is formally constituted as a Scottish Charity. It is managed by a committee elected at the Annual General Meeting and with powers to co-opt. An equal opportunities policy has been adopted.
Registered Charity No SC023005