Royal days to remember

This year we celebrated two special occasions with our Patron. Linda Robertson reports.

In September, His Royal Highness, The Prince Charles, The Duke of Rothesay, announced the extension of his Patronage of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland until July 2020.

“The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland values deeply and benefits from The Duke of Rothesay’s Patronage and we are delighted and honoured to have this continue,” says Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, Principal.

“Our Patron is passionate about the value of the arts to society and is committed, as we are, to the vital importance of early access to and progression in arts education.”

It comes after a right royal day in May when The Duke of Rothesay paid an official visit to RCS.

With a crowd gathered on Renfrew Street and piping student, Robyn Ada McKay, poised for action, His Royal Highness made his way into the building accompanied by graduate and actor Sam Heughan, star of hit TV drama Outlander, who returned to his roots to meet with His Royal Highness during his tour. Sam later hosted a Q&A session with acting students.

His Royal Highness stopped to chat to students as he made his way to the first stop on his tour, the New Athenaeum Theatre, to see the fit-up for the UK staged premiere of opera Dead Man Walking, where he spoke to Production students about the technical and creative process.

Next, it was off to the Stevenson Hall to listen to a percussion masterclass hosted by Eric Sammut, followed by a specially curated performance in the Ledger Recital Room.

BA Acting students Felixe Forde and Lawrence Hodgson-Mullings delivered a scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream which was followed by a moving accordion piece, Entrée de Polymnie from Les Boreades, by Ryan Corbett, Alena Bulatetskaya and Valerie Barr. The finale was a dynamic piano duet, Rosenblatt’s Concertino on Two Russian Themes from Edyta Mydlowska and Guoda Indriunaite.

With Sam Heughan as Master of Ceremonies, the programme included Prokofiev’s Cinderella, Op.87 performed by the RCS Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Jessica Cottis, with dancers from the BA Modern Ballet programme.

Karen Cargill took to the stage with the RCS Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Jessica Cottis and the orchestra performed two traditional pieces by leading musician, director and RCS lecturer Greg Lawson.

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland received its royal prefix in 1944 from King George V. The then-Queen Elizabeth assumed the role of Patron, a role in which she continued as Queen
Elizabeth The Queen Mother until her death in 2002. Following in his grandmother’s footsteps, The Duke of Rothesay became Patron in 2003.

During her patronage, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother officially opened the purpose-built Renfrew Street building in 1987. She also received the institution’s first honorary doctorate at Clarence House on 17 November 1994 to mark her Golden Jubilee as Patron.

“The arts have such a crucial role to play in the current and future wellbeing of individuals, communities and society as a whole and the visit was a chance to celebrate the creative and performing arts at the Royal Conservatoire and the strong commitment of our Patron,”

Principal Sharkey

Weeks later, it was the turn of students and graduates to repay the visit — with a spectacular performance at Buckingham Palace. In June, musicians, ballet dancers and alumni Sam Heughan, international mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill and conductor Jessica Cottis presented a glittering programme for VIP guests attending The Prince’s Foundation’s gala dinner, hosted by His Royal Highness.

The Royal Conservatoire works in partnership with The Prince’s Foundation to provide specialist arts teaching for young people, a relationship His Royal Highness has inspired and
encouraged. A thriving programme at Dumfries House in Ayrshire, which was established in 2016, currently delivers specialist strings and dance tuition.

“I was incredibly proud to watch our current students perform alongside distinguished RCS alumni Karen Cargill, Jessica Cottis and Sam Heughan for this very special occasion for our Patron in celebration of The Prince’s Foundation,” says Principal Sharkey.

“They delivered a memorable performance in beautiful surroundings and this was a wonderful showcase for RCS and Scotland.”

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