Inside Artistic Planning: instrumental in RCS performance

Chris Willshaw offers an insight into Artistic Planning which delivers up to 200 events, masterclasses and performances every year within the School of Music.

They are key cogs in the RCS performance juggernaut — music planning ninjas, score wranglers, schedule writers and impeccable piano movers who book and build relationships with national partners and global artists.

The Artistic Planning (AP) team works closely with every department in the School of Music and with professional partners across Scotland, enabling students to share their performances with a variety of audiences — everything from lunchtime concerts and annual festivals to full-scale symphony orchestras.

“We’re the central hub for collaboration within the School of Music at RCS,” says Sam McShane, Head of Artistic Planning and an RCS brass graduate.

“Part of my job is looking for the next artist who is going to make the students go ‘wow’. Every artist brings something different and that’s so important for the students.”

Ben MacDonald, Artistic Planning Manager, adds: “Although we programme public concerts, our main focus is to enhance the students’ experience. They learn from internationally renowned artists whether that’s by playing in concerts, participating in masterclasses or coaching and one-to-one teaching.”

Ensembles Manager Gemma Carlin, also a music graduate, manages students across everything from symphony and opera orchestras to musical theatre bands.

“We aim to mimic what happens in a professional orchestra so students know what to expect when they graduate. I love seeing the journey of a student. I go to see the RSNO perform and there are musicians I remember from when they were 17 years old and now they’re doing what they were trained to do.”

Students receive opportunities through AP programming that they won’t get anywhere else, says Matt Adam, Artistic Planning Officer: “It’s the chance to work with specialists who are not just amazing performers but are also great educators.”


“It’s really satisfying to take something from the initial planning stages to the moment when you’re backstage at a venue and everyone’s buzzing. There’s also hearing these amazing instruments playing in the beautiful spaces at RCS, to a dedicated audience which is really invested in what we do here.”

Matt Adam

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