Instead of following the typical classical music handbook, conductor Andrew Gourlay decided to write his own. As Music Director of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León (OSCyL) in Spain, Andrew and the OSCyL announced this fall it launched its own recording label. Now, a few months later, the organization released its first recording, Rachmaninov: The Isle of the Dead / Symphony No. 2.
“For the first recording on our new label, we wanted to show what the orchestra can do, and what better way than with major symphonic repertoire?” Andrew said.
Becoming OSCyL’s Musical Director
Gourlay rose to prominence in Spain following his success at the Cadaqués International Conducting Competition in 2010, which led to a series of engagements with a number of Spanish orchestras, including the OSCyL. He became Principal Guest Conductor in 2014/15 and took up the post of Music Director in January 2016 in succession to Lionel Bringuier.
His starting point was a mission to increase international awareness of a great orchestra. The OSCyL was only created 27 years ago, which is pretty young in terms of orchestras and in the classical music world. When he took on the role of Music Director, he felt that the time was right to push the orchestra further and to broadcast the OSCyL to the rest of the world.
“So what better way than to create a new label and release a top-quality recording of well-loved repertoire,” Andrew said. “The launch of this album is a really exciting time for us all, because it’s the start of a new era for the OSCyL.”
The decision to record Rachmaninov stems from his previous experiences with the OSCyL. The orchestra and Andrew performed the Symphonic Dances together, which is not a straightforward piece for any orchestra, and Andrew felt stylistically that the OSCyL really understood it. Combined with his deep love for Rachmaninov’s music, it felt like a good avenue to explore.
“The Isle of the Dead and the 2nd Symphony make an interesting pairing: they both show extraordinary class and passion, yet they inhabit different sound-worlds. The Isle is so brilliantly textural and the symphony so lyrical,” he said.
There are no stepping on the brakes for Andrew. He and OSCyL are in the midst of preparations for their follow-up album of Shostakovich Symphony No. 10, which they will be recording in February.
Aside from that, Andrew is preparing for a busy start to 2019, which includes performances with the BBC Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony, London Sinfonietta, Tasmanian Symphony, Bremen Philharmonic and Tampere Philharmonic (which will be his Finnish debut), alongside his every-growing list of projects in Spain.
Future of Classical Music
Andrew believes classical audiences are wonderfully resilient.
“Certainly they might be ageing, but that’s an obvious result of increased life expectancy and increased retirement ages,” he said.
During his time at the OSCyL, they have seen a rise in subscriber numbers of more than 30%, but that wasn’t from standing still and staring at the headlights. Don’t go looking for headlights in the first place, Andrew cautioned, but keep venturing down the road and explore new territories, new commissions, and new ideas while also performing masterpieces the audiences know and love but with fresh eyes, passion, and conviction.
“What could be more attractive?” Andrew said.
To know more about Andrew Gourlay, visit his website.