RCS on the world’s great festival stage

Edinburgh is truly the world’s festival city — and RCS is there in force. From Creative Conversations to breathtaking concerts and fabulous Fringe productions, Scotland’s national conservatoire took up residency in August for a summer full of arts and culture.

From its famous cobbled streets to its concert halls, theatres, pubs and clubs, the summer months in Edinburgh see culture spilling out from every nook and cranny. Performers descend on Scotland’s capital city from all over the world, tens of thousands of artists performing at the Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh International Film Festival and many more.

This year, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland students, staff and alumni were firmly embedded within Edinburgh’s festivals, showcasing their talents across the city. For the first time, RCS and the Royal Society of Edinburgh celebrated the power and potential of the arts through an active new partnership during the festival season, with a packed programme of events.

A highlight was a Creative Conversation with a distinguished panel — RCS Principal, Professor Jeffrey Sharkey; April Chamberlain, chair of the Royal Television Society Scotland and co-artistic director of Glasgow Lunchtime Theatre; acclaimed crime writer Val McDermid; composer Sir James MacMillan; chief executive of the British Council Sir Ciarán Devane and chaired by founder and former CEO of the Creative Industries Federation, John Kampfner.

The theme, Arts & Culture: Creative Solutions to the 21st Century’s Biggest Problems? provoked robust debate on the role and importance of the arts to society.

Elsewhere in Edinburgh, prospective students were treated to an open house event to give an insight into life at RCS, with music from graduate and former BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician winner, Hannah Rarity.


Hannah also entertained guests at an intimate alumni networking event hosted by Professor Hugh Hodgart, Director of Drama, Dance, Production and Film. Meanwhile, students from RCS Masters Musical Theatre programme returned to the capital for a fifteenth Edinburgh Festival Fringe run with a trio of musical theatre productions.

Legally Blonde the Musical staged at the Music Hall at the Assembly Rooms, was directed by Alexandra Spencer-Jones, artistic director of theatre company Action to the Word.

Two brand new works also received their world premieres. Limbo: City of Dreams and Limbo: The Twelve were created in partnership with the American Music Theatre Project at Northwestern University, Chicago, the third year of the transatlantic partnership which brings original musical theatre to an international audience — devised and performed by some of the brightest new talent in the UK and US.

Watch our video below to see our MA Musical Theatre students when they were in rehearsals for Limbo: City of Dreams and Limbo: The Twelve. 


At the Edinburgh International Festival, internationally acclaimed Scots opera stars and RCS graduates Karen Cargill and Catriona Morison joined forces with RCS students and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra for a major concert performance of Richard Wagner’s opera Götterdämmerung.

The Scottish mezzo-sopranos took to the stage alongside RCS Voices, an elite group of current and former students of Scotland’s national conservatoire conducted by former RCS Head of Opera, Timothy Dean. The performances earned widespread praise, glowing reviews appearing in The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Times, The Scotsman, The Herald and Bachtrack.

Away from the official RCS activities, scores of alumni shared their creative talents with delighted audiences in concert halls, on stages and behind the scenes during one of the busiest festival seasons to be found anywhere in the world.

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