Live music has always played a vital role in the performances of Scottish Ballet, and in its previous incarnations as Western Theatre Ballet and Scottish Theatre Ballet.
Initially, as resources and venues allowed, small ensembles were employed, growing over the years through small orchestras with specifically commissioned re-orchestrations (Humphrey Searle's arrangement of Giselle for 16 players and Leonard Salzedo's small orchestra version of The Nutcracker) to the present position where the composer’s wishes are, as closely as the physical conditions of the theatres to which the company tours will allow, fulfilled.
Music directors have included Gerald Krug, Terence Kern, Alan Morgan, Bramwell Tovey, Guy Hamilton and Alan Barker.
The Company has commissioned many scores of which the Scottish Ballet Orchestra has given the first performance:
- Sun into Darkness (Malcolm Williamson 1966)
- Beauty and the Beast (Thea Musgrave 1969)
- The Tales of Hoffmann (Offenbach arr John Lanchbery 1972)
- Mary, Queen of Scots (John McCabe 1976)
- Cinderella (Rossini arr Bramwell Tovey 1979)
- Chéri (David Earl 1980)
- Carmen (Bizet arr Dominic Muldowney 1985)
- Peter Pan (Eddie McGuire 1988)
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Mendelssohn arr Barrington Pheloung 1993)
- Aladdin (Carl Davis 2000)
- The Snowman 2 act version (Howard Blake 2001)
- Alice (Robert Moran 2011)
- A Streetcar Named Desire (Peter Salem 2012)
- The Crucible (Peter Salem 2019)
- The Snow Queen (2019, new arrangement of Rimsky-Korsakov's score by Richard Honner)
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