Our History

In 1976 the orchestra manager of the Welsh National Opera commissioned his brother to design an all-new illuminated music stand. The orchestra bought 50 of the stands and the RAT opera stand was born. This original music stand was designed and made by Andrew, who then formed a business with two friends, Rolf and Tom. They called the company R.A.T. Music Stands.  

It became apparent that people in the theatre industry had taken to thinking of music stands in general as “ratstands”, just as many people think of vacuum cleaners as hoovers. In 2012 we acknowledged this fact by changing the name of the company to RATstands.


In 1989 the acoustic consultant for Birmingham’s new Symphony Hall contacted RATstands to say that they loved the Opera Stand but wanted something a little different. They didn’t like the base, the stem, or the tray! Consultation with the Symphony Orchestra’s members revealed that the requirements of a concert orchestra are different from those of an opera house, and so the Concert Stand was born. Today the Concert stand’s slender steel structure and elegantly formed wooden tray are the perfect match for any historic or modern concert hall. The wood tray can even be made to match that of the hall. 

When the Opera stand was born, the conflicting requirements of a music stand light were literally impossible to resolve. Incandescent bulbs were large, fragile, diffuse, and yellow. So, at the turn of the millennium, long before LEDs became commonplace, RATstands were amongst the first to use the new technology, creating a light that for the first time gave musicians all the Lumen power they could wish for, in a housing that is slender and tough, and with razor sharp light cut off. Now in their fourth generation, they are available in low voltage, battery powered and mains dimmable versions, with colour temperature as well as intensity control across multiple zones by radio, fixed wire, or on-lamp controls. Quite simply, the best lights on the market. 

Throughout its early life RATstands resisted the temptation to design and manufacture chairs. During those years of selling music stands to world renowned orchestras and venues, we learnt from our customers that every musician has a different idea of what a chair should be like. Unlike music stands, orchestras tended to buy several different chair designs to satisfy all of their musician’s disparate wishes. This knowledge drove our development of the Opera Chair, which is specifically designed for musician’s posture and has adjustment for height, back angle, and seat angle, to suit every musician’s needs. The Concert Chair builds on the success of the Opera Chair but is designed to complement the Concert Stand with a single piece wooden shell which can be made to match any venue.  

 It could be said that RATstands offers several products which are ‘before their time’. We take pride in that everything we have designed has been driven by our customers. RATstands Grand Opera Conductor Stand was designed with the Royal Opera House’s request for a ‘unlike any other’ conductor’s stand. The Utah Symphony inspired RATstands to design our Grand Opera Chair in response to their search for a chair which can be adjusted whilst the musician was sitting on it.  

Not only are RATstands products developed from what our customers want, they also show them what they need.


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