MAKING something of a contrast with the RSNO's circumspect approach to questions about the future beyond conductor Peter Oundjian, whose last season under contract was launched before the orchestra departed on tour, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra has launched its 2017/18 season with a fanfare about final opportunities to see Robin Ticciati in his role as Principal Conductor.

Although SCO chief executive Gavin Reid is clear that the end of March next year, when Ticciati directs his "Farewell" concerts, will not be the end of the young conductor's relationship with the orchestra, he is is keen to emphasise that the new programme – which has a focus on the works of Dvorak as a central theme of Ticciati's concerts – is the "culmination" of a journey that the musicians and the man on the podium have taken together. That journey has been interrupted recently by the conductor's back problems but his choice of composer is a fascinating further step in both what audiences might expect to hear from a chamber orchestra –and into giving SCO concert-goers his own distinctive approach to repertoire associated with the late Sir Charles MacKerras, who enjoyed such a close relationship with the band.

Reid, of course, is a relatively new face with the chamber orchestra, having moved from managing the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra last year when the planning of the new season by his predecessor Roy McEwan, concerts director Judith Colman, Ticciati and the orchestra's other regular visiting conductors, including Emmanuel Krivine and Richard Egarr.

"I responded to what was already there," he says, "but there is a reasonable amount of me in there too."

He is particularly keen to emphasise the moves the SCO is taking to extend its audience, building on recent wooing of music students. From the start of the new season there will be free admission to all 18 year olds or under, with teachers accompanying school groups also entitled to a free ticket. Under 26s and the unemployed are offered £6 for all season tickets, and the relationship with music students extends to offering showcases for Scotland's music schools in pre-concert performances across the country in addition to the side-by-side concerts with their seniors at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

As to the question of appointing a successor to Ticciati, Reid ostensibly follows the policy of his predecessor by saying "out antenna are out" and "every visiting conductor is a potential new principal." "It will take a while to experience new people and we are not rushing into anything too soon," he adds by way of clarification.

But the fact is that, with the appointment of Bronte Hudnott as sub-principal flute, the SCO currently has no vacancies at all among the players for the first time in recent memory, with the strings in particular at full strength since the appointment of Philip Higham to lead the cellos. As one of the featured soloists in the ranks, he plays CPE Bach's Concerto in A Minor with Egarr, as an interesting parallel to the focus on Bach senior that accompanies Ticciati's Dvorak focus, which begins with the Eight Symphony at the Usher Hall on October 12 and concludes with the "New World" Symphony in Glasgow City Halls on March 23, 2018, taking in the Violin Concerto, with soloist Christian Tetzlaff, Piano Concerto, with Andras Schiff, and Biblical Songs, with mezzo Karen Cargill, along the way.

Other players with solo concerts are principal viola Jane Atkins, playing Martinu, principal clarinet Maximiliano Martin, adding Copland to the heady mix of Ticciati's farewell programme, and principal flute Alison Mitchell, making the SCO's contribution to the Bernstein centenary with his Halil as part of a concert in which oboe player Francois Leleux makes his SCO debut as a conductor.

Other conducting debuts to note are Karina Canellakis, conducting young fellow-American Benjamin Beilman in Barber's Violin Concerto in December, and Spaniard Gustavo Gimeno, closing the season in May 2018. With returning soloists including pianist Mitsuko Uchida, playing Mozart with Ticciati in the season-opening concerts, and continuing a relationship with the SCO renewed in 2015 after a 20 year gap, instrumental debutants include saxophonist Amy Dickson whose concert in April next year includes both the Glazunov concerto and a new concerto, inspired by Scottish traditional dance music, by Sir James MacMillan. Conductor Emeritus Joseph Swensen conducts both those and a concert in November featuring MacMillan's I: A Meditation on Iona, which he premiered 20 years ago, alongside a brand new work from acclaimed young Scottish composer Tom Harrold.

With percussionist Colin Currie giving the Scottish premiere of Rautavaara's concerto "Incantations" under John Storgards next March and the SCO Chorus contributing Handel's Solomon with conductor Peter Dijkstra, Schumann's Requiem with Richard Egarr, Bach's Christmas Oratorio under Jonathan Cohen, and Mozart's Mass in C Minor with another new face, French conductor Raphael Pichon, the SCO has plenty to shout about as well as bidding Ticciati a fond farewell. Subscription booking is open now, general ticket sales start on June 1.