AS Scotland’s RSNO became the last British orchestra to perform in the European Union before the Brexit process begins on January 31, the Scottish Government issued an uncompromising statement demanding that cultural links with Europe be maintained and the needs of artists made a priority in negotiations about immigration and mobility.

The national orchestra played the last date of its tour in Friedrichhafen’s Graf Zeppelin Haus with Nicola Benedetti the soloist on the Sibelius’s Violin Concerto, immediately before she boarded a trans-Atlantic flight to perform at the the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday. She was a nominee in the Best Classical Instrumental Solo category for her latest recording, the concerto written for her by Wynton Marsalis, with the work itself nominated as Best Contemporary Classical Composition.

The violinist and orchestra, conducted by its Music Director Thomas Sondergard, received standings ovations during its week of concerts across Europe, and chief executive Alistair Mackie reporting shouts of “Don’t leave!” among the applause after Wednesday’s performance of Elgar’s Enigma Variations and the First Bruch Violin Concerto in the Muziekgebowe Frits Philips in Eindhoven.

Mr Mackie’s first experience of an RSNO European tour since his appointment has convinced him that the orchestra needs to maintain a presence on the continent regardless of Brexit, and intends to schedule two visits in forthcoming years, with a further tour between the Edinburgh Festival and the start of the orchestral season.

It is an aim with which the Scottish Government expressed its own support as the current tour came to an end.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “I will be meeting cultural and creative sector stakeholders again next week to explore the problems they face and the potential impact of Brexit on cultural exchange. 

“We have regularly raised our concerns with the UK Government about the challenges Brexit presents for musicians, artists and performing companies touring internationally. We are deeply concerned about the impact of ending free movement of people on Scotland’s cultural sector.

“Recognising the needs of artists and performers must be part of any future UK immigration system and upcoming mobility discussions with the EU.”

The Scottish Government has previous made clear its appreciation of the portfolio careers of workers in the cultural sector depending on international mobility, and the number of EU nationals working with Scotland national performing companies, often bringing particular skills and abilities  that are in short supply.

Ms Hyslop continued: “Scotland’s international cultural connections enrich our society and it is vital that these links are protected – it’s essential that Scotland’s voice is heard. The UK Government must commit to continued participation in EU initiatives that support cultural links, such as the Creative Europe programme."