International Mezzo-Soprano Karen Cargill appointed Interim Head of Vocal Performance at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

International Mezzo-Soprano Karen Cargill appointed Interim Head of Vocal Performance at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Published: 13/08/2021

A leading international artist who has graced the stages of the world’s top opera houses has been appointed to lead the training of the next generation of singers at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Renowned mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill will take up the position of the Royal Conservatoire’s Head of Vocal Performance on an interim basis from the start of the forthcoming academic year (September 2021) and following the completion of her performances at this year’s prestigious Glyndebourne Festival. Karen succeeds Professor Stephen Robertson, who announced his retirement in April, though will continue to teach and carry out further research at RCS. 

A regular performer in iconic venues such as the Metropolitan Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin and Royal Opera House as well as the Edinburgh International Festival, Karen has worked with many leading conductors including Sir Donald Runnicles, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Bernard Haitink and Sir Simon Rattle.

An alumna of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and recipient of an Honorary Doctorate awarded by the institution for her outstanding contribution to the arts in 2018, Karen was appointed an RCS Associate Artist in 2019. She is also Patron of the National Girls’ Choir of Scotland.

Karen Cargill is wearing her honorary doctorate degree robes and carrying a scroll as she smiles into the camera.

Karen joins the academic team at Scotland’s national conservatoire at a time the institution is ranked No 3 in the world for performing arts education in the prestigious QS World University Rankings 2021 and No 1 in the UK in the Complete University Guide 2022. She will retain a performance practice as her academic role permits.

Announcing her appointment, Dr Gordon Munro, Director of the School of Music said:

“We are absolutely delighted to secure an artist of Karen’s calibre in this important leadership role at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Karen brings with her not just world-class excellence in performance but also an unrivalled insight into the contemporary demands and opportunities that vocal students will require to understand to be responsive in their professional lives.

“Students who have worked with Karen in her role as Associate Artist have found the experience extremely enriching and we look forward very much to the expertise, empathy and insight she will undoubtedly bring to this role.”

Commenting on her new role, Karen Cargill said:

“It is such an honour to be given the opportunity to help guide the next generation of young singers through their path of discovery at the RCS. Coming to study at the Conservatoire (then the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama) at 17 was life-changing for me, a world of possibility opened and my creative process began. One of the joys for me will be sharing the excitement of these young singers embarking on their own path to professional life.

“My own journey from Arbroath to the international stage was created and honed during my time at the RCS, so it is fitting that I return at this stage in my career to give something back to the place that saw my potential.

“Glasgow is such a vibrant artistic centre, a wonderful city to discover, create and to feel nourished. RCS is an institution with these values at its heart and I’m thrilled to be re-joining the family as a member of staff. I cannot wait for this new chapter to begin.”




  1. In line with some other appointments at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland at this time, the post of Head of Vocal Performance has been made on an interim basis for the Academic Year 21-22.

You might also be interested in reading


Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Scottish Opera strengthen partnership with unique opportunity for the next generation of opera talent

A new partnership to nurture the next generation of international opera talent is unveiled today (Friday, November 3) by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Scottish Opera. The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is introducing a new one-year Artist Diploma in Opera to offer a highly specialised combination of vocal, movement and acting training, with students

Glasgow’s annual guitar festival returns to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Big Guitar Weekend: The Sound of Scotland  Thursday 2 – Sunday 5 November    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 the Royal Conservatoire