Introducing children to classical music at an early age is generally thought to be highly beneficial – both in terms of early childhood development and in forming the musicians and aficionados of the future. The Royal Scottish National Orchestra has taken this idea a step further by pledging a new, specially-created recording for every child born in Scotland between October 15, 2012 and October 14, 2013.
Titled ‘Astar’ (Gaelic for journey), the disc also features the RSNO Junior Chorus and includes Scottish songs, nursery rhymes and child-friendly classical works by Tchaikovsky, Mozart and Debussy, conducted by music director Peter Oundjian, chorus director Christopher Bell and conductor laureate Neeme Järvi. It is hoped the album, produced by Chandos with support from Year of Creative Scotland, will form the beginning of a lifelong relationship between the child recipients and the RSNO.
‘When I was an infant my godfather gave me a tiny record player,’ said Oundjian. ‘I would place it under the family piano and put on my prized recording of Peter and the Wolf. It became my sanctuary, a place where I knew I could find joy. I have found that the power and beauty of music can truly transform lives and I seriously hope the recipients of "Astar" enjoy many hours of shared pleasure to this wonderful music.’
The orchestra is already planning follow-up workshops for parents and babies from 2013. All recipients will also be invited to sign up to the RSNO’s ‘Under 5s’ programme and to take part in various events and programmes throughout their lives.