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Welcome to March's RCS News

Pianist Ethan Loch stars in BBC documentary


Pianist Ethan Loch was the subject of a new BBC film, which aired earlier this month.

Ethan Loch: Making Music Talk was made for BBC Scotland as part of The Culture Scene. Watch the film on BBC iPlayer.

Ethan, a second-year BMus Performance student, who won the BBC Young Musician Keyboard final in 2022, shares an insight into his RCS studies, including composing his first concerto and preparing for a solo performance career.

Image © BBC

RCS Filmmaking and Production alumni win at Royal Television Society Student Awards


Congratulations to RCS alumni nominated in last week’s Royal Television Society Scotland Student Awards 2024 and to the team behind Worst Thing, which won the Entertainment and Comedy Award.

Worst Thing was Jayme Bartlett’s final-year film, which brought together a team including Bobby Donaldson, Hayley Louise McGuire and Petra Crace.

The Production Design Craft Award was presented to Petra Crace for Worst Thing and Abbie Maclaughlan received the Writing Craft Award for The Interests of Others.

All the nominated films and highlights from this year’s ceremony will be available soon on STV Player. 

Going for gold: Ruairidh Gray gathers top Gaelic singers for historic concert

A group of Gaelic singers in a choir in St Aloysius Church in Glasgow



Almost 80 Gaelic singers, spanning eight decades, gathered in Glasgow last week for a first-of-its-kind concert orchestrated by a Royal Conservatoire of Scotland student.

Ruairidh Gray, who is in his final year of the BA Traditional Music degree programme, brought together some of the nation’s finest Gaelic voices – all gold medal winners at the Royal National Mòd – who performed alongside RCS students on Thursday 21 March at St Aloysius Church.

It was the first time anyone has ever attempted to bring together so many Mòd winners, which saw singers aged from 20 to 91 take to the stage, alongside students from across RCS’s strings, keyboard, brass, traditional music and woodwind departments.

And it was standing room only! The church, which holds around 800, was packed with people of all ages.

The singers performed in groups by region and also featured included acclaimed traditional musicians such as John ‘Ikey’ Carmichael on accordion and Kirsteen Grant on piano, as well as RCS tutors Anna Michels on piano and Ciorstaidh Beaton on clarsach.

The concert was featured on the BBC website and Ruairidh was interviewed on TV show The Seven last Friday.

The concert will be broadcast on BBC Radio Nan Gàidheal on Monday 1 April at 7pm.

Read our Q&A with Ruairidh on the Newsroom.

Jane Irwin new Head of Vocal Performance

Head shot of Jane Irwin who is looking to the side and smiling


An international opera soprano and educator who has performed on the world’s top concert stages has been appointed Head of Vocal Performance at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Jane Irwin will join RCS in April, where she’ll guide the next generation of classical singers.

Jane’s career has taken her all over the UK, Europe and America, from New York’s Carnegie Hall to London’s Royal Opera House.

Commenting on her appointment, Jane said: “I just landed my dream job! It will be a privilege to work alongside such experienced and talented teachers, helping to nurture the next generation of singers in the safe and stimulating environment that the RCS provides.”

Full story on the RCS Newsroom.

Spring into our Short Courses

© Robbie McFadzean


Looking to upskill or develop your practice?

Mindfulness for Wellness and Performance, an introduction to Nadine George Voice Work and the Alexander Technique are just a few of the fantastic workshops from Short Courses.

All RCS students and staff are entitled to a 15% discount. Email to receive a code.


The Actor’s Voice: An Introduction to Nadine George Voice Work NGVW

Saturday 30 – Sunday 31 March

NGVW is an exploration into each individual human voice and provides the opportunity for development free from judgement.

The workshop, led by Susan Worsfold, will include hands-on body work, relaxation, breathwork, sung sound, vocal energy, and the exploration of text. It is open to anyone interested in accessing the potential of their own individual human voice.


Puppetry for Contemporary Theatre

Saturday 6 April – Sunday 7 April

This intensive hands-on workshop, led by Gavin Glover, is designed for those who wish to expand their skill set and become familiar in the use of the various different puppetry techniques used in contemporary theatre.


Alexander Technique

Mondays, 15 April – 3 June

The Alexander Technique is an eight-week course, led by Sue Barclay, which is a method of self-development that teaches you skills to help you rediscover your natural ease and freedom of movement; often leading to significant improvements in health, general well-being, functioning and performance.


Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Performance

Tuesdays, 16 April – 4 June

This eight-week course, led by Lee Holland, is designed to allow participants to explore, understand and gain meditation tools that can enhance performance.

Through training our focus, learning how to minimise distractions and manage anxiety, performances become more enjoyable and enable us to perform to a higher level more consistently.

Watch The Bruce opera premiere at Glasgow Cathedral

Congratulations to PhD composer Rakhat-Bi Abdyssagin who staged four sold-out performances of The Bruce – a new opera to commemorate the 750th anniversary of the birth of Robert the Bruce.

Performances took place in Glasgow Cathedral, St Giles Cathedral, Dunfermline Abbey and St Salvator’s Chapel (St Andrews) this month and last. Watch the full concert at Glasgow Cathedral.

Elsewhere in the Composition department, BMus first-year composers Christopher Meek and Max Robeson had new works in the Notes from Scotland concert, performed by the RSNO and the Dunedin Consort

MMus graduate Michael Maftean has created new music for Childish – a short film collaboration with filmmaker Emily Munro, which featured in Glasgow Film Festival.

PhD graduate Katrin Klose’s Stabat Mater was premiered by Mädchenchor der Singakademie zu Berlin, who have taken it on tour in the US.

Learning and Teaching in the Arts graduates share insights at research and innovation forum

MEd in Learning and Teaching in the Arts graduates Kirsty MacLaren, Jacqui George and Clare Hibberd showcased their final-year projects at the Edinburgh College Research and Innovation Forum earlier this month.

The forum was guest hosted by Jamie Mackay, Head of Postgraduate Learning and Teaching Programmes, and was focused on sharing insights into the ways in which research integrates into the programme as part of a deeper philosophy of critical enquiry and in the context of a self-determined learning journey.

In year three of the MEd, each student designs their own final project and associated assessment rubrics, giving them the autonomy to design their unique and personally meaningful learning project outcomes.

Kirsty Maclaren is an Olivier-nominated actor and lecturer in Musical Theatre at London College of Music, University of West London. In her final project, she researched the importance of providing mental wellbeing awareness education in tertiary actor training, based on findings of the prevalence of mental health issues within the acting profession.

Jacqui George has been working in stage and production management for 25 years, with a focus on conservatoire training. Based in Sharjah Performing Arts Academy, Jacqui’s final project explored current trends in teaching entrepreneurship within the creative sector globally, and led to the design of a syllabus for delivery in a higher education context.

Clare Hibberd is the sound lecturer for RCS’s BA Production Technology Management programme. In her final project, titled Providing Opportunities for Creative Responses in Theatre Sound Design Education, Clare explored the environmental, experiential and emotional factors that impact the development of creativity, and proposed a model to create opportunities for students to engage with theatre sound creatively.

Jamie concluded the session with a brief overview of his own PhD research into the potential for non-directive coaching to support artist development, focusing on some recent work exploring the goals, strategies, and values of arts educators.

Further examples of final projects can be found on the RCS portal.

Urinetown performance trip for Transitions

Want to know what Transitions students thought of the recent Musical Theatre production of Urinetown?

They loved it! Check out this video, where they share their post-show feedback.

Research and Knowledge Exchange

Decorative image to illustrate a concert. Full moon on water with a rose

In student news, The Witnesses in Recital showcases the latest stage of development of a new opera by composer-librettist Jacquelyn Hazle.

This opera is a substantial portion of Jacquelyn’s PhD portfolio and will feature MMus2 Opera student Rosie Lavery and RCS Opera alumnus Colin Murray, accompanied by DPerf pianist Dr Clarisse Teo.

The performance takes place on Friday 26 April, at 7pm, in the Blythswood Hall at the Renfield. Tickets are free and available at the RCS Box Office.

Dr Laura Bissell launched her poetry collection, A-Z of Sites of Love and Loss, published by Speculative Books, earlier this month.

Laura and Lucy Weir joined authors across the globe for Reflecting on Performance in a Pandemic at IASH and online; you can read a review of their book by Laura González in The Polyphony.

Laura’s work has also recently been featured in Gutter #29, a new magazine of Scottish and International writing.

Dr Bethany Whiteside has been awarded a Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) Research Collaborations Grant for an 18-month project titled Methods in Movement: Dance for Health Scotland Research Network.

Bethany will work with Professor Sara Houston (University of Roehampton) and Dr Morven Shearer (University of St Andrews), together with colleagues at Scottish Ballet and Dance Base and dancers with Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis, to develop dance-centred methods.

Dr Sarah Hopfinger’s Pain and I continues its tour across Scotland.

Through choreography, poetic text and sound, this piece explores what it means to care for ourselves, our bodies and each other in times of personal and collective pain.

Junior Conservatoire dance students on tour!

Dance students from the Junior Conservatoire Drama, Dance, Production and Film have been making some exciting moves recently.

The Junior Conservatoire Young Ballet Company and Contemporary Youth Dance Company performed at Go Dance in Glasgow’s Theatre Royal, which spotlights the best of community dance.

The Junior Conservatoire Contemporary Youth Dance Company travelled to Aberdeen to perform as part of the Citymoves Spring Dance festival, which featured Citymoves’ own performance groups and visiting schools.

The Young Ballet Company brought a busy month to a close with a performance at The Beacon in Greenock last weekend in Destinations, the annual celebration of youth dance in Scotland from YDance.

Students and graduates in final of BBC competition

Finalists in BBC Radio Scotland Young Classical Musician - Current students Melia Simonot, accordion, and pianist Vita Hofinger Mihelič are in the final with harp graduate Gina Gallacher and Junior Conservatoire graduate and oboist Christopher Vettraino.

© Martin Shields


It was wonderful to welcome so many talented emerging artists to RCS this month for the semi-final of the BBC Radio Scotland Young Classical Musician competition.

Congratulations to the finalists, pictured from left, current students Vita Hofinger Mihelič (piano), Melia Simonot (accordion), Junior Conservatoire graduate Christopher Vettraino (oboe) and graduate Gina Gallacher (harp).

You can listen to the semi-final performances on BBC Radio Scotland’s Classical Now programme on Sunday 7 April at 7pm.

The musicians will perform a varied programme at the grand final at Glasgow City Halls on Saturday 8 June with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of conductor Martyn Brabbins – RCS Visiting Professor of Conducting – and in front of an eminent panel of judges.

The winner will be awarded the title BBC Radio Scotland Young Classical Musician 2024, receive a recording session with BBC Scotland, a bespoke trophy designed by Simon Baker and a special feature on Classical Now. The event will be broadcast live on BBC Radio Scotland.

It’s free but ticketed and limited to four per application. Book tickets on the BBC website.

RCS in the news

A view of RCS's New Athenaeum stage and orchestra pit during a performance of the opera Idomeno.

Conductor John Butt was interviewed live on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune about working with us on the opera Idomeneo. It starts around 44:05.

Jane Irwin’s appointment as the new Head of Vocal Performance was featured on Gramophone and Arts Professional.

It was a five-star review for Urinetown from Broadway World: ‘The talent onstage is extraordinary … As expected at RCS, every actor is phenomenal …An enjoyable and welcome reinterpretation of the musical form, fully deserving of its standing ovation.’

Our summer schools were featured in Drama and Theatre magazine.

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