By Gavin Reid

THE creation of a purpose-built world class performance venue in Edinburgh – the first building of its kind in the capital for over a century – and an artistic home for the internationally-renowned Scottish Chamber Orchestra, has been decades in the making and is now going through the final stages of the planning process with a decision due on November 24.

As we all emerge into life after lockdown with a reaffirmation for many and perhaps a realisation for some, of just how important culture is to an enriched and fulfilled existence – no mere add-on but a vital part of life itself – the Dunard Centre will contribute massively to making us all happier and healthier. The benefits for music and music lovers for generations to come cannot be overstated. In short, a major new cultural venue in the heart of our community has never been more needed than now.

The vision for the Dunard Centre was born out of an alliance of individuals and organisations that care passionately about the role of music in Edinburgh, Scotland and the world. They came together to create a generational legacy based on a simple principle – that a medium-sized performance hall, just off St Andrew Square in central Edinburgh, built to the very highest architectural and acoustic standards would be a significant addition to Edinburgh and Scotland’s cultural infrastructure, energising and inspiring audiences of all ages and backgrounds, while providing artists of all genres and styles, with the ideal conditions for music-making.

That guiding principle has never felt so relevant or vital. To see the creativity of our design team, led by Sir David Chipperfield, take shape empowers all of us at the SCO to redouble our mission of transforming and enhancing lives and communities throughout Scotland and beyond through the power of inspirational music-making.

For the SCO the Dunard Centre will be transformational: a stunning auditorium offering the very best in modern acoustics in which to experience and enjoy the acclaimed sound of the orchestra. It will boast state of the art digital broadcast facilities allowing us to reimagine the concert experience, expand our repertoire, collaborate with more composers and artists of all genres and present our work in new ways. All with a fresh sense of adventure, freedom and ambition, always seeking to push the boundaries of music making and always in search of extraordinary experiences for audiences.

For an orchestra committed to embracing innovation and creative risk-taking, welcoming people from the widest and most diverse backgrounds, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Creativity and cultural engagement are central to re-imagining and re-invigorating the life, economy and well-being of our communities. In a city and a country famed around the world for its culture, this ambitious project is a beacon of hope and renewal.

Today of all days, as we announce details of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s forthcoming 2022 Spring Season, it is worth reminding ourselves of the founding idea for this remarkable project – that Edinburgh deserves an outstanding performance venue such as this. It follows, given the history of our great Capital city, that it should sit comfortably alongside the best of its kind in the world, for the benefit of all.

Gavin Reid is chief executive of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra