New Royal Conservatoire of Scotland ambassadors to champion the arts around the world
A Netflix star, a Mercury Prize-nominated musician, and one of the UK’s leading ballerinas are just a few of the artists who are set to fly the flag for the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland on the world stage.
Today, Scotland’s national conservatoire unveils its new Ambassadors programme and introduces the leading lights in the performing and production arts who will help amplify and enhance the work of RCS across the globe.
This first group of ambassadors, who are graduates or members of the Conservatoire’s wider community, will represent programmes and departments within RCS and champion the institution at a regional and national level.
Ambassadors will support a variety of areas including recruitment, share information about their experience at RCS and life in Glasgow, be a local point of contact, and assist with events in their locality.
The degree programme ambassadors are:
- Multi-instrumental musical duo The Ayoub Sisters: Strings
- Jazz saxophonist Matt Carmichael: Jazz (saxophone)
- Pianist Daniel Ciobanu: Keyboard
- Actor Jeremy Crawford: Classical and Contemporary Text
- Principal ballet dancer Bethany Kingsley-Garner: Modern Ballet
- Percussionist David Kerr: Timpani and Percussion
- Classical guitarist Samrat Majumder: Guitar and Harp
- Jazz pianist Fergus McCreadie: Jazz (piano)
- Composer Claire McKenzie: Composition
- Set and costume designer Morven McLeod: Production Arts and Design
- Actor Emma Mullen: Musical Theatre
- Stage Manager Ruby Noble: Production Technology and Management (Stage Management)
- Lighting Designer/Relighter/Programmer: Josh Brown: Production Technology and Management (Lighting)
Regional and national ambassadors
- Actor Jeremy Crawford: Toronto
- Pianist Wilson Chu: Indonesia
- Violinist JP Radelet: Toronto
- Musical Director Dustin Struhall: Chicago
- Cellist Kathleen Wallfisch: Germany
See all the Ambassadors on the dedicated RCS webpage
Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, Principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “Together with RCS’s students and staff, our alumni and associated artists form a powerful and global community of artists, rooted here in Glasgow but with reach and impact across the widest imaginable range of places and spaces.
“We’re delighted to be introducing RCS’s Programme, National and Regional Ambassadors and are grateful to this group of outstanding artists and practitioners across a range of disciplines for helping us launch this important initiative which will help RCS inform, connect and inspire.”
Katy Higham, Alumni Relations Manager at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “We’re thrilled to introduce our first group of RCS Ambassadors who will support us to amplify and enhance the understanding of RCS across the world, building our connections and developing a dynamic student and alumni community.
“It has been a joy to meet with each of them and find out more about their experiences during their studies and their journeys beyond. We’re looking forward to working together on RCS activity, including recruitment, alumni engagement and events, as well as elevating the work they’re doing and celebrating their successes.”
The Ayoub Sisters rose to stardom after their debut album premiered at number one in the Official Classical Charts. Sarah and Laura are recognised internationally for their ability to unite different musical genres and cultures through their unique compositional style.
Sarah and Laura said: “RCS has played a crucial role in our musical education. The world-class institution nurtured our curiosity from a very young age, both as junior and pre-junior students as well as later in life at the senior academy.
“We were able to explore and develop all aspects of music making and utilise the skills which enabled us to unlock our musicianship. We look back fondly at our time and are truly grateful for the opportunities we had and how they have shaped us not only as musicians but as individuals.”
Jeremy Crawford, a graduate of the MA Classical and Contemporary Text programme, is an award-winning American actor who currently stars in Netflix’s The Witcher as dwarven warrior Yarpen Zigrin.
Jeremy said: “Being an actor with dwarfism, I would tend to only be considered for certain types of roles. RCS never put a label on me. They gave me the opportunity and the tools to unlock my full potential and discover what I was truly capable of as an actor.”
Bethany Kingsley-Garner is a Principal Artist at Scottish Ballet, who has delighted audiences worldwide with critically acclaimed performances. Nominated by the Critics’ Circle for Outstanding Classical Performance for her role in Scottish Ballet’s Emergence, Bethany is also actively involved in dance education, teaching and guest coaching at workshops and seminars across the world.
Bethany said: “I am honoured and delighted to become an ambassador for the prestigious Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. As a Principal Ballerina of Scottish Ballet, I’ve had the privilege of being a guest coach for the RCS dancers in their magnificent premises.
“I’m inspired by the enthusiasm and determination of the young and upcoming dancers in Scotland and feel incredibly excited to continue to share my passion for dance with them. I look forward to passing on my knowledge and experience to help and encourage the next generation of dancers fulfil their aspirations.”
Claire McKenzie is an award-winning composer for theatre, television and film. Since graduating from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Claire has composed original scores for numerous theatrical productions both in the UK and the United States. Claire is also one half of the prolific musical theatre writing partnership, Noisemaker with writer/lyricist and RCS Musical Theatre graduate Scott Gilmour.
Claire said: “There is nowhere quite like the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland as a place to study and develop your craft. A hub for so many artforms, the building is a melting pot of creativity and collaboration. Fellow students I met down the corridors of RCS became my friends and collaborators for life. The RCS Composition department is like no other, providing world-class training and tutorship while always maintaining a focus on each student’s individual path.
“During my time studying in the department, individuality was championed and celebrated, and I felt hugely supported along my journey in finding my own, unique voice. The connections I made within the music and theatre industry while studying allowed me to step straight into the career I had dreamt of, and for that, I’m hugely grateful.”
Fergus McCreadie is one of Europe’s most exciting young jazz pianists, celebrated for his unique blend of jazz and Scottish folk music inspired by his country’s landscapes.
His album Forest Floor topped the UK Jazz & Blues charts and made him the only non-classical musician to be selected as a 2022 BBC New Generation Artist. In 2022, Fergus was awarded the JazzFM Award for Instrumentalist of the Year, on top of winning the Scottish Album of the Year Award on the same day. Forest Floor was shortlisted for the 2022 Mercury Prize and was awarded Scottish Album of the Year in 2022.
Fergus said: “The years spent at RCS on the jazz course were incredibly beneficial to me as a developing musician – I received really excellent tuition and was able to meet and play with so many other great musicians in Glasgow both in and outside of the course.
“There is such a great sense of community when you go there and there is a lot of support for you to make opportunities happen in the beginnings of your playing career.”
RCS Programme Ambassadors also include:
Heralded by BBC Music Magazine as ‘a distinctive new voice in a crowded scene’, saxophonist and composer Matt Carmichael continues to grow his reach globally with his powerfully emotive blend of jazz and folk music. He has performed throughout Europe with his own band as well as being a guest soloist with the Grammy Award-winning WDR Big Band in Germany. Matt’s critically acclaimed debut album Where Will the River Flow amassed over three million streams. Matt released his second album Marram in October 2022.
Matt said: “RCS is an amazing hub for the creative scene in Glasgow and has been the catalyst for a lot of the most exciting music coming out of the city at the moment. It was a wonderful place to study and be surrounded by so many inspiring people throughout my four years there. I continue to work with students, alumni and teachers from across the departments at RCS all the time and will do so for the rest of my career.”
Daniel Ciobanufirst attracted international acclaim in 2017 at the Arthur Rubinstein Competition in Tel Aviv where he won both the Silver Medal and Audience Prize. He subsequently appeared at Carnegie Hall, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Gewandhaus Leipzig, Konzerthaus Berlin, Tonhalle in Zurich, Lucerne Festival and Enescu Festival while becoming the first-ever Artist in Residence at the George Enescu Philharmonic in Bucharest.
Daniel said: “Using our perfect pitch, we can’t deny the fact that the word Conservatoire sounds terribly similar to the word conservative therefore, to put it more mildly, a machine of mass execution of originality, innovation and individual spices. Well, here is exactly where the RCS proves the contrary. A place that struck my fascination with its ferocious generosity and refreshing atmosphere. Refreshing, creative, stimulating is what the RCS means to me!”
David Kerr, a professional freelance percussionist since 2017, frequently performs with Scotland’s top orchestras and other touring productions. With a passion for drum kit and world percussion, he enjoys performing for musical theatre and cabaret acts. David maintains a diverse teaching career, educating a broad range of students, with experience at prestigious institutions including the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
David said: “The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Timpani and Percussion MMus programme is a cutting-edge postgraduate degree that offered me a customisable curriculum and unparalleled industry access. Leveraging its network of industry partners, the programme equipped me with all the practical skills necessary to succeed in today’s competitive music landscape.”
- Co-founder – Classical Guitar Reach Foundation of India (CGRFI) (October 2021)
- 1st Prize & Audience Award – Aalborg International Guitar Competition (November 2021)
- 1st Prize – Twents International Guitar Competition (May 2022)
- 1st Prize – Harmonia Cordis International Guitar Competition (August 2022)
- International Guitar Foundation, Young Artist Platform (October 2022)
Samrat said: “During the four years of my undergraduate studies, the Guitar department – headed by the incomparable Professor Allan Neave – provided me with the resources, motivation and expertise to develop both my technical and musical skills on the instrument. The guidance of the renowned teaching faculty and the supportive peer group of students, that I was fortunate enough to be a part of, also prepared me in becoming an independent learner which taught me to value the importance of social connections in this cross-cultural field. A lot of these first connections were, themselves, forged in the RCS. I can say, with confidence, that RCS nurtured my ambitions and provided the perfect springboard for a career in the arts.”
Since graduating from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Emma Mullen’s credits include playing the role of Sophie in MAMMA MIA! The Musical at the Novello Theatre in London’s West End and the UK and international tour); Sunshine on Leith at Leeds Playhouse and UK tour; August: Osage County at Dundee Rep and playing the character of Rosie in BBC One’s Shetland.
Emma said: “I had an amazing time on the BA Musical Theatre course. The course is unlike any other musical theatre programme in the UK, in that it isn’t designed to churn out singing and dancing machines. It nurtures each individual student in what they do best, with the acting training at the root of everything you do. You are always encouraged to pick up an instrument, devise your own work and become a well-rounded artist and individual. RCS always felt like such an exciting place to be. I’ve gone on to work with graduates from other courses and I’m always reminded of how lucky we were to train there.”
Morven McLeodis a freelance set and costume designer based in Glasgow, who works in both theatre and film. She graduated from the Production Arts and Design course in 2022, and since then has been involved in all manner of projects as a design assistant, production designer, associate designer and studio assistant.
Theatre credits include Muster Station: Leith for Grid Iron and Lost in Music for Magnetic North while film credits include Floored for Napier Screen Academy, Hugh for GMAC and Mouth for Little Pictures.
Morven said: “At RCS you meet such a warm community of like-minded people, where you feel nothing but support from the staff and your fellow students. It has this creative buzz; it’s an environment that you can’t find anywhere else, and you’re given every opportunity to showcase yourself and your talents.
“As a designer, it’s an amazing experience – you receive teaching on dramatic history and theory which informs and enhances your practical teaching. Getting to experience your designs come to life on stage so early in your career is such a magical moment.”
Since graduating from RCS in 2021, Ruby Noble has enjoyed working on a variety of shows from off-West End musicals, opera, new contemporary work, and theatre in schools. Recent credits include Assistant Stage Manager Book Cover for Mavra/Pierrot Lunaire at the Royal Opera House; Assistant Stage Manager for Gypsy/La Donna Del Lago at Buxton Opera House; Stage Manager for Wonderful Wizard of Oz at the Tron Theatre and Deputy Stage Manager for Like Flying at National Theatre of Scotland.
Ruby said: “I had a great time at RCS. The staff are truly there to support and guide you every step of the way whilst giving you the space to grow into your own as a professional. I don’t know of another technical theatre course in the UK that allows you to learn your craft hands-on whilst gaining a deep appreciation for every other discipline.”
Josh Brown graduated from the Production Technology and Management course in 2020, specialising in lighting. Since graduating, he has worked throughout the UK as a designer, relighter and programmer, working primarily on theatre, dance and contemporary performance. Josh has worked with several companies including The National Theatre of Scotland, Theatr Gu Leor, Vanishing Point and Scottish Ballet.
Recent credits include lighting designer for Remount of Unbecoming (Company of Wolves), Opera Scenes and Into the New (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland), Buckets (City of Glasgow College), as relighter for Stornoway Quebec (Theatre Gu Leor), 549: Scots of the Spanish Civil War (Wonder Fools), The Metamorphosis (Vanishing Point) and as programmer for Summer Shorts (Scottish Ballet), Alice in Pantoland and Wizard of Oz (Reconnect Regal Theatre) and Exodus (National Theatre of Scotland.
Josh said: “I loved my time studying at RCS. It gave me a really good grounding knowledge in all aspects of lighting whilst getting to use some of the latest technology. The course is very much like learning to drive as it sets you up with skills you require to start working in the industry. For me, the best aspect of the course was the networking I was able to do and since graduating, the majority of the jobs I’ve done have stemmed from those connections I made whilst at RCS.”
Regional and national ambassadors:
Jeremy Crawford, Toronto
See bio above
Wilson Chu, Indonesia
Wilson was appointed Associate Professor in Music at the College of Chinese & ASEAN Arts at Chengdu University in 2019. He has dedicated his career to piano pedagogy and nurturing students from China, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Mexico, Serbia, and Russia. He was appointed the first official Steinway Educational Partner for Indonesia at the end of 2022, and he is actively giving seminars and concerts in Asian countries.
Wilson said: “Choosing RCS to study piano performance from undergraduate to postgraduate was the best decision I’ve made for my career. With top-class facilities, faculty, and instruments to practice, it was a gateway to many opportunities that crafted my skills and personality to where I am today. From the freedom to express ideas and diversity, to the friendly and welcoming staff, I felt at home in such a positive community. I hope to visit Glasgow and RCS again in the future.”
JP Radelet, Toronto
After graduating from RCS with an MA in Performance (violin), JP co-founded Studio 515 with his wife, Terri. Their aim is to provide a fresh approach to music education, drawing from and interacting with a wide range of academic disciplines. He recently completed his Juris Doctor studies at Osgoode Hall Law School.
JP said: “The fear of cultural irrelevance often sets the boots of the prototypical classical musician into an uncontrollable quiver – at least, that was my experience prior to attending RCS. What RCS perhaps best thrives at is instilling in its students the belief that classical music most certainly has a place in modern society should its practitioners remain committed to the continued innovation and evolution of their chosen craft.
“My professors at RCS impressed upon me the importance of being brave and the willingness to take chances, both musically and professionally. To them, my purpose was to learn, and at times learning is not synonymous with performative perfection. That said, the training I received was challenging, and absolute commitment to the task at hand was not only expected but necessary. Combined with the professional opportunities I received, the MA programme ensured that I was prepared for life as a career violinist.”
Dustin Struhall, Chicago
After graduating from the MA Musical Directing programme, Dustin moved to Chicago. He has worked as an Associate Electronic Music Designer at the Equity musical theatre houses, Associate Music Director for the regional High School Musical Theatre Awards in Austin, TX, and Music Director with the Boy Trio Cabaret group called The Feathered Beaus. He is also the Operations Manager for KeyboardTEK.
Dustin said: “RCS is a place where artists learn to hone their skills, so they build a foundation with which to be creative with. I learned that we are always practitioners and never experts. Letting go of a need for perfection opened possibilities for me to create from. The resources available give everyone the opportunity to explore across mediums. From state-of-the-art sound studios to a variety of rehearsal spaces to the faculty whose skills range across the spectrum of music and drama. Not to mention the kindness, compassion, and generosity that pervades the air of Glasgow. It was a unique experience that it’s taken years for me to fully appreciate.”
Kathleen Wallfisch, Germany
After graduating from the BMus programme, cellist Kathleen performed regularly with many of the leading period instrument orchestras in the U.K. She then founded an agency, Music in Vision, which casts musicians for roles in film and TV. This led to work as a music supervisor, most recently on Ridley Scott‘s Napoleon for Apple TV+.
Kathleen said: “The RCS gave me a fantastic start as an undergraduate. I had access to excellent teachers, and I experienced a wide variety of playing environments, from orchestral and period performance to chamber music. This allowed me to evaluate what my next steps should be. I then studied for a Masters in Historical Performance. Although I have stepped away from performing, the participation in different performance opportunities and study of a broad range of disciplines still feeds in directly to my current work as a music supervisor for visual media.”