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The BBC today (16th June 2011) announced Shetland's involvement in Music Nation, a weekend of live music events taking place across the UK on 3 & 4 March 2012, with related performances and community activities in the week leading up to it.

Thursday 1– Monday 5 March

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) will be resident in the Shetland for its eighth annual Out and About, a week where the RSNO host, contribute to and participate in dozens of musical events with the local communities. In partnership with Shetland Arts, the RSNO will take its music-making to the mainland, as well as Unst, the Out Skerries, Fair Isle and Foula. These visits will involve a range of activities, from concerts and participative performances to community events and coaching opportunities. The week will enable the Shetland islanders to experience and interact with Scotland’s national symphony orchestra in their own community and will include the Orchestra’s northernmost UK performances of its 120-year history.

Gwilym Gibbons, Director of Shetland Arts said: “This is a hugely ambitious and exciting project and one that has been a long term ambition of Shetland Arts and the RSNO. It was always about picking the right time and for us the combination of this visit taking place as part of Music Nation, in the Year of Creative Scotland and in the opening season of Mareel, Shetland’s new £12.2m waterfront music, cinema and creative industries centre makes this absolutely the right time. I am delighted that Shetland Arts and RSNO are working in partnership to bring their orchestra to Shetland. It is very rare for a full symphony orchestra to commit to overcoming the enormous logistical challenge of getting to a island location like ours, let alone head out to the outer isles of Fair Isle, Out Skerries, Foula and Unst”.

Gwilym added: “The RSNO’s visit as part of Music Nation will coincide with the opening season of Mareel. The week of events will include collaborations and performances in venues including village halls, care homes, schools, Mareel and a full orchestral performance in the Clickimin Leisure Centre. Drawing upon our rich cultural heritage and our unique locations the week will bring together world class musicians from Shetland and the RSNO to develop and perform an original work”.

From Cornwall to the Shetland Isles, Belfast to Birmingham, Music Nation is an unprecedented collaboration of the UK’s orchestral and music making communities. Orchestras and choirs, large, small, professional and amateur, have formed partnerships with other musical organisations and venues in their area to create and host performances and workshops in 45 locations across the UK with more than 25,000 participants under the Music Nation banner.

The weekend is one of a select group of `countdown’ events for the London 2012 Festival, the finale of the Cultural Olympiad, and is a key part of the BBC’s Cultural Olympiad programming. Built primarily around classical music, but taking in jazz, folk and world music, Music Nation aims to engage as many people as possible; whether it be attending world-class performances or taking part in community projects and workshops in venues and public places up and down the country.

Devised and led by the BBC, Music Nation is a partnership with Arts Council England, the Association of British Orchestras (ABO), British Association of Concert Halls (BACH), Orchestras Live, Making Music, Conservatoires UK and LOCOG to celebrate the richness, diversity and excellence of Britain’s musical life. BBC Radio 3, Music Nation’s principal media partner, will broadcast live content throughout the weekend, with additional programming on Radio 2, BBC Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and BBC local radio.

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