RCS News: October

Autumn graduation celebration

© Robbie McFadzean

A champion of emerging musicians and accessibility in the arts was celebrated alongside students at our autumn graduation and fellowship ceremony on Thursday 26 October. View the photo gallery on the RCS Flickr.

Carol Main MBE, Director of Live Music Now Scotland, joined more than 60 graduating students in the Stevenson Hall. Carol was recognised for her contribution to enriching the musical landscape in Scotland and beyond, and her service to the RCS Board of Governors, on which she sat from 2014 to April this year.

© Martin Shields

Congratulations to our newest graduates, including those who couldn’t be at the ceremony in person, including Marie-Claire Redman (white hat) and Jacqui George who studied on the MEd Learning and Teaching in the Arts programme.


Competition success, concerts and connections for students

The finalists for BBC Radio Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician 2024 have been announced – and five of the six are from RCS!

Student Ruairidh Gray (voice) is joined by graduates Evie Waddell (voice/step dance percussion) Calum McIlroy (guitar/mandolin/voice), Ella Munro (voice) and John Dew (bagpipes). Completing the line-up is Matt Tighe (fiddle).

Watch the semi-final performances on BBC iPlayer. You’ll also hear Traditional Music lecturer Jenn Butterworth accompanying them on guitar! The final will be held on February 4 as part of Celtic Connections.

© Olivia da Costa

Masters Conducting student Peggy Wu is the second woman conductor to lead the City of Carlisle Orchestra in its seventy-year history! Peggy is preparing the orchestra for its next concert on Saturday 25 November in St John’s Church.

Enjoy this short video of Masters student Ryan Corbett, a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist, in rehearsal at the BBC’s Maida Vale studios with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. The studio concert will be broadcast soon, we can’t wait to tune in!

Second-year pianist Ethan Loch won Silver medal, Best Polonaise and the Audience Prize at the Nashville International Chopin Piano Competition. Ethan’s performance can be viewed on his YouTube channel.

Second-year BA Acting students will visit Romania next month to take part in a festival that brings together European drama schools.

Aishat Lawal, Holly Gilchrist, Thomas Barrett, Sofia Kyrychenko and Aisha Goodman, along with recent graduate, Michael Guest, will participate in Network – Theatre Schools in Europe, which runs from 10-16 November in Timișoara.

The programme includes workshops, conferences, debates and performances, and a co-creation project, a human installation, that will be presented on the final day. The festival aims to create dialogue and spark connections between European drama schools.

PhD composer Kenneth Tay will unveil new work for the University of Glasgow Chapel Choir next month, accompanied with a choral piece from MMus composer Seyoung Oh, as part of a free concert series.

Choral Contemplations III: The Approach of Advent takes place on Tuesday 14 November, at 6.10pm, in the University of Glasgow Memorial Chapel.

Kenneth says: “The concert is themed around the approach of the Advent season, with the highlight of the evening being the premiere of a multi-movement Advent litany titled Lux Luminosa. This piece has been specially written for the University of Glasgow Chapel Choir, directed by Dr Katy Lavinia Cooper. The work is for SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) choir, organ, solo percussionist and soloists, including RCS students.”

The concert will be streamed via the Chapel Choir YouTube channel.


Sustainability in the spotlight

The Sustainability Committee has been working to develop a Sustainability Policy for RCS and are in the process of recruiting a full-time Carbon and Sustainability Manager.

All new students received induction week sessions on Sustainability led by Energy and Sustainability Manager at Glasgow School of Art, Christine Colquhoun, and co-chair of the RSC Sustainability Committee Laura Bissell.

They also received a range of resources including the RCS publication, What Can Art Do? Making Performance in Times of Crisis, reflecting on creative work around COP26, and the Greener Glasgow Guide created by a Glasgow School of Art student.

Incoming students to RCS this year received a plantable bookmark, with links to our library reading list around art and climate crisis, and to the Green Room microsite.

In 2021, RCS launched its first Sustainability Prize, designed to celebrate work in any discipline that was created using sustainable methods or disseminating a message about sustainability. Penny Chivas, 2021 winner, and this year’s winner, Jaime Díaz, led sessions as part of a staff development day in September that focused on sustainability. Students and staff will be offered the opportunity to undertake carbon literacy training later in the academic year, moving us closer towards becoming a carbon literate community.


Fair Access opportunity: Digital Artist in Residence

Call for entries from artists in Music, Production, Film, Dance and Drama

£3,000 budget

Widening Access to the Creative Industries (WACI) at RCS is seeking a skilled and compassionate artist based in the East of Scotland to lead a creative project aimed at empowering young people (16+) that also live in this area.

The artist will need to provide a safe and creative outlet for participants to explore their identities, tell their stories, and develop knowledge in the selected artform, and aim to inspire and communicate how their artform can lead to a potential career path. Closing date is 6 November. Find out more about the application process and apply on the RCS Vacancies page.


Adult weekly dance classes at RCS

© Robbie McFadzean/RCS

Looking for weekly dance classes in ballet, tap, jazz or contemporary? RCS has a fantastic programme of adult evening classes for all levels, from complete beginners to advanced.

Short Courses offers learners aged 16+ the chance to continue with their dance journey or to try something completely new. 

RCS students and staff receive 15% off when block booking. Find out more at Short Courses or email juniorsdance@rcs.ac.uk.

Pay as you go options (payment made on the evening of class) are also available.


Graduate raises a glass to £10,000 funding boost: spirited cocktail-inspired play to hit the stage thanks to Bruce Millar Graduate Fellowship

Take the world’s top cocktails. Blend with dash of drama. Add a generous splash of funding. And you’ve got all the ingredients for an intoxicating new play.

A Cocktailer’s Guide to Surviving a Pandemic was concocted by Meghan de Chastelain during the first few months of the Covid-19 pandemic. And it will be brought to life thanks to an annual £10,000 funding award from RCS.

Meghan, who graduated from the MFA (Directing) Classical and Contemporary Text programme in 2023 is this year’s recipient of the Bruce Millar Graduate Fellowship. It’s a unique chance for new graduates of the School of Drama, Dance, Production and Film (DDPF) to receive funding and support from RCS for a creative project, performance, phase of research and development or to launch a creative company.

The funding boost will allow Meghan to develop A Cocktailer’s Guide to Surviving a Pandemic, which uses cocktails to ‘make hard stories easier to swallow’.

“During the 2020 lockdown, I printed out a list of the world’s top 100 cocktails and my flatmate and I made a cocktail together each night, working our way through the entire list,” explained Meghan.

“It was in the first hundred days that I was inspired to write a story using cocktails as the basis for storytelling; characters are represented by different liquors and stories told through the cocktail’s ingredients. The piece demonstrates that even when the world around us falls apart, we can still reclaim our health, independence, power, vulnerability, and courage.”

Read the fully story on the Newsroom.


Staff performance news

Artist-researcher Dr Sarah Hopfinger, from RCS’s Research and Knowledge Exchange, is touring her award-winning performance Pain and I across Scotland, beginning with Tramway on 8 and 9 November.

A bold exploration into chronic pain experience, Pain and I layers playful choreography, experimental dance, intimate autobiographical text and original classical music composition by Alicia Jane Turner.

Pain and I can also be experienced as an audio piece, a graphic score (designed by Michaela Pointon and Rachel O’Neill), and a new installation (designed by Rachel O’Neill). The digital audio and graphic Score are free/pay what you can and can be accessed here. Book tickets at Tramway.

David Fennessy, lecturer in Composition, will see his work Conquest of the Useless performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra at Glasgow’s City Halls on 4 November in its UK premiere.

In the early 1980s, the German film director Werner Herzog kept a diary of his struggle to make his film Fitzcarraldo in the Amazon. Entitled Conquest of the Useless, its descriptions of nature and Herzog’s day-to-day battle inspired David to create an epic three-part work that touches on madness, ambition, Verdi, belief, Enrico Caruso, musical Romanticism and the teeming, chaotic brutality of the jungle.

Part-premiered by the BBC SSO at Glasgow’s first Tectonics festival in 2013, the completed work returns to City Halls for a performance preceded by a discussion with David and a screening of Les Blank’s 1982 documentary of the Fitzcarraldo shoot, Burden of Dreams.

David will perform in the piece, alongside actor Brian Ferguson, Teaching Artist in Classical and Contemporary Text. Find out more and book tickets at the BBC SSO box office.


RCS gearing up for Big Guitar Weekend

© Kaupo Kikkas

From classical virtuosity to contemporary innovation and a celebration of Scottish-based composers … Glasgow’s gearing up for the return of Big Guitar Weekend.

The annual festival of glorious guitar playing from renowned global artists will take place at RCS from 2-5 November and includes a highly anticipated performance from Sean Shibe – RCS graduate and Associate Artist of Guitar – who has been described as ‘one of the foremost guitarists of his generation’.

Professor Allan Neave, Head of Guitar and Harp, said: “Big Guitar Weekend returns with a ‘Made in Scotland’ theme – all the artists and tutors have studied here, so it’s a real celebration of the talent that has passed through the doors of our much-loved institution. 

“The programmes will feature a multitude of music with a focus on composers based in Scotland – a celebration of Eddie McGuire’s 75th year, David Fennessy’s long relationship with the instrument and Stuart MacRae’s collaboration with guitarist Sasha Savaloni.”


RCS in the news

Dr Marc Silberschatz, Interim Director of Drama, Dance, Production and Film, discusses the future of drama school training in the current issue of The Stage. Elsewhere, Musical Theatre graduate and RCS Alumni Ambassador Emma Mullen shares tips on getting the most out of your drama training.

Francis Cummings, Head of RCS Junior Conservatoire of Music, and BMus student and clarinettist Scott Hutchison were live on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, talking about Scott’s route from Sistema Scotland’s Big Noise project in Raploch to studying at RCS. Listen from 2:54.40


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