The sound of Scotland: discover new voices in cutting-edge contemporary music festival

The sound of Scotland: discover new voices in cutting-edge contemporary music festival

Published: 27/04/2023

Five days, eight concerts and a sonic journey through an experimental soundtrack of electronics and acoustics. PLUG, the festival of contemporary new music, returns to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in May.

Original, eclectic and the chance to hear it first … PLUG is a platform for emerging composers to premiere new works, performed by RCS musicians and acclaimed guest artists.

The annual festival celebrates new talent, acts as a catalyst for collaboration and takes audiences on an audio adventure with some of Scotland’s most exciting musical voices. PLUG has been part of the RCS calendar for 17 years, with more than 300 new works receiving their premieres.

Dr Oliver Searle, Head of Composition at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “PLUG is a showcase and springboard for some of the most creative and exciting emerging composers based in Scotland.

“The festival is where audiences can listen to brilliant new works, unveiled at PLUG for the first time, performed by a fantastic line-up of musicians from across RCS and guest artists. Fans of contemporary music won’t want to miss it – it’s a chance to champion music that defies labels and crosses boundaries by composers with very bright futures.”

Audiences will be taken on an audio adventure from the get-go, from the opening lunchtime concert on Monday 8 May with Calum Huggan and vocalist and RCS doctoral candidate Stephanie Lamprea.

Nine accordionists – including student Ryan Corbett, BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist and winner of the 2021 Royal Over-Seas League annual music competition, and lecturer Djordje Gajic – join forces with guitar, cello and violins for a lunchtime concert that promises to pack a punch on Wednesday 10 May.

That night, the recipient of the prestigious Craig Armstrong Prize, Zeo Fawcett, will share his winning composition in a concert that will see fellow student composers showcase new works performed by musicians from across RCS.

Fresh from their debut album launch, award-winning cello and violin duo, PLUG regulars and RCS graduates GAIA – Katrina Lee and Alice Allen – take to the stage on Thursday 11 May. PLUG comes to a close on Friday 12 May with guest artists Red Note, Scotland’s contemporary music ensemble and Nicholas McCarthy.

Pianist and motivational speaker Nicholas McCarthy was born without his right hand and only began to play the piano at the age of 14. Having once been told that he would never succeed as a concert pianist, he’s a champion of left-hand repertoire.

PLUG 2023

Monday 8 May

1-2pm: Calum Huggan and Stephanie Lamprea

7-8pm: Sonic Nights

Tuesday 9 May

1-2pm: keyboard

Wednesday 10 May

1-2pm: Accordions

7-9pm: The Craig Armstrong Prize

Thursday 11 May

1-2pm: Brass

6-7pm: GAIA

Friday 12 May

1-2pm: Red Note and Nicholas McCarthy

Book tickets at


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