Children see orchestra return to West End ‘home’ more than half a century after fire

By Ian Marland at

It’s more than fifty years since the Royal Scottish National Orchestra performed at St Andrew’s Hall as it was known then.

The former concert rooms in Charing Cross were devastated by fire in 1962 and the musicians were forced to find a new home.

A Day at the Museum

Grand: the former St Andrew’s Hall was devastated by fire in 1962. Picture: Glasgow Univrsity

More than half a century later, the RSNO has returned to the building – now part of the Mitchell Library.

The occasion was a series of concerts for the city’s youngest music fans.

‘A Day at the Museum’ was a programme of classical music put together especially for young ears.

Concerts were held at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow – with more at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh.

A Day at the Museum

RSNO: A Day at the Museum photo call. Photo credit: Martin Shields

For many youngsters the concerts were their first experience of live orchestral music.

An RSNO release said: “Hundreds of nursery and Primary 1 children from Glasgow and Edinburgh experience live orchestral music for the first time this week when the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) presents its A Day at the Museum concerts to young listeners, at the Mitchell Theatre, Glasgow and at the Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh.

“In Glasgow, this is the first time the RSNO has performed in the Mitchell Library building since 1962, previously known as the St Andrew’s Hall, which was the first home to Scotland’s national orchestra.

“A Day at the Museum, conceived and presented by RSNO Viola Lisa Rourke and tailored to suit the appetites of younger listeners, is a new presentation for children between the ages of 3-6 years old.”

Concert : The performance in the Mitchell Library Theatre. Credit: Martin Shields

Music in the programme included excerpts from Beethoven’s Symphony No6 Pastoral, Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Dvorak’s New World Symphony.

They were accompanied by new music from RSNO Principal Horn Christopher Gough entitled A Day at the Museum and another brand-new piece, from emerging composer and RSNO Composers’ Hub member Neil Smith.

St Andrew’s Hall was designed by architect James Sellars and opened in 1877 to meet the demand for a large hall in the West End.

It cost £100,000 and included a Grand Hall which could hold 4,500 people, and two smaller halls called the Berkeley and the Kent.

A Day at the Museum

Pictured: Helen Brew (flute), Kennedy Leitch (cello), Davur Juul Magnussen (trombone), Margarida Castro (double bass), Christopher Hart (trumpet), Lena Zeliszewska (violin) as exhibits. Front: Sophie Sherwood, four,from Kelvinside Academy Nursery with narrator Lisa Rourke. Photograph by Martin Shields

There were also several lesser halls in the complex and a 72 feet by 50 feet ballroom.

It’s striking classical facade on Granville Street was the only part of the building to survive the fire.

The facade was incorporated in a later extension to the Mitchell Library which occupies the eastern part of the site.

* Title photograph: credit Martin Shields