Music Audition Week: Spotlight on Head of Artistic Planning

Where are you?

I’m at home in Ayrshire working on our future projects for Term 2 and beyond.  I live with my partner and my two adorable puppies, Winston and Wilbur.  I’ve been so thankful to be able to be in RCS throughout Term 1 working and seeing the students in action.

How are you connecting with students?

The AP team have been working with students throughout the term, producing online performances. The students have faced the challenges of performance during COVID-19 exceptionally well.  They’ve tackled some incredibly tricky repertoire at 2 – 3m distancing so a huge BRAVO to them all.

What’s on your reading list?

I dip in and out of books – I’m terrible for finding the time to sit and read.  However, I am reading a book at the moment called Good Vibes, Good Life – How self-love is the key to unlocking your greatness, which I’m thoroughly enjoying. I also often dip in and out of The Leonard Bernstein Letters, I love getting an insight into his thoughts and closest relationships. I adore Bernstein, both artistically and as a person. He was fascinating.

What are you watching/listening to online?


I listen to a lot of the RCS performances online  – there is so much content that it’s sometimes difficult to keep up with!

My partner and I decided to watch all of Jim Carey’s films – another fascinating man. We’re not quite finished yet, however, we recently watched ‘Man on the Moon’ which is a biographical comedy-drama about the American entertainer Andy Kaufman. There’s a subsequent documentary called Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond which documents Carrey’s performance approach and method acting in the Man on the Moon. It’s a must watch!


My morning routine is to get up and listen to BBC Radio Scotland to get up-to-speed with the latest news.

Throughout the day, I listen to a huge range of genres. I’ve found that throughout the pandemic, my emotions can be ever changing and I use music to respond to that.  A few days ago I was feeling exhausted and had no energy and then played the Jazz Department’s The Magic of Art Blakey directed by Pete Johnstone, which lifted my spirit hugely!

Thanks to a great colleague at RCS, I now listen to a fifteen minute meditation track before I go to sleep at night.  Since I’ve started this, I feel a huge difference to my mind and body after a well-rested night.

How long have you been at RCS?

I have been at RCS as Head of Artistic Planning since 2017. However, my journey started in 2003 as a horn player at RCS Juniors and finished in 2010 after graduating on the BMus course.

What drew you here?

When I worked in London and Manchester, I kept on top of the performance calendar at RCS and was always incredibly impressed with the guest and associated artists as well as the work that was being presented. I also loved how fresh and alive the marketing and comms were, which is a huge challenge in what can be perceived as a very traditional institution.  I felt the urge to come back to back to Scotland and the vacancy popped up at the right time – it was meant to be!

What do you love most about your role?

Seeing the students thrive and grow. I also love bringing people into the RCS to work with our students who are not only internationally renowned artists but are also very passionate about education. Over the past two years, we have appointed Associate Artists like Karen Cargill, Paul Galbraith, Mike Lovatt and Moishe’s Bagel.  There are some very exciting new announcements on this front coming your way in the New Year!

What drives and inspires you?

The possibility to effect positive change.

What sparked your love of the arts?

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra sparked my love for classical music.  I had an incredible teacher, Alison Murray, who played in the orchestra and always encouraged me to come to concerts.  This along with a fantastic music department at St. Aidan’s High School made me realise that the arts was something I wanted to be involved in. I worked with the hugely ambitious Manchester Camerata orchestra and it was through working with them that my artistic horizons started to broaden.  Manchester, culturally, is such a fantastic city and having innovate festivals such as Manchester International Festival really opened my eyes.

What advice would you give your younger self?

“Believe in yourself – you don’t need the approval of others.”

RCS Highlights

  1. Bringing together RCS musicians, ballet dancers and alumni actor Sam Heughan, mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill and conductor Jessica Cottis to perform for our Patron, HRH Prince Charles, at The Prince’s Foundation gala dinner at Buckingham Palace.
  1. RCS students and staff students performing at the Scottish Parliament’s 20th anniversary ceremony
  2. Producing the epic Eight Songs for a Mad King by Peter Maxwell Davies at Cottiers Theatre with RCS students alongside Red Note Ensemble.
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