Junior Conservatoire students ready to hit the high notes in Russia

Published: May 30, 2017


Five students from the Royal Conservatoire’s prestigious Junior Conservatoire Music programme are flying off to Moscow this week to perform at the world-famous Bolshoi Theatre as part of a new collaboration between RCS and the Rostov State Rachmaninov Conservatoire.

Finlay Morse ( from Aberdeen), Archie MacKechnie, (from Bridge of Allan), Rebecca Fraser (from Paisley), Innes Scullion (from Glasgow) and Ruairidh Gray (from South Uist) will perform at the Vladimir Spivakov Foundation Festival before taking to the stage in the Bolshoi Theatre on Friday. The students, who travel from across Scotland to attend classes at the Junior Conservatoire, met today at Glasgow Airport to begin their epic trip.

One student will be focusing on her playing as well as her studying, as the music programme clashes with her National 5 exams. Jessica Fraser, who plays clarsach and piano, has received special permission from exam bosses to sit her exam abroad – and may even end up sitting her German National 5 exam in the Bolshoi Theatre.

Gleniffer High School pupil Jessica said: “I’m quite nervous about my German exam. I’ve been studying really hard so hopefully it will pay off. The exam is on the same day as our performance at the Bolshoi Theatre so it’s going to take place there – it’s different to the usual exam hall setting, for sure.”

15-year-old Bucksburn Academy pupil Finlay Morse, who studies fiddle at the Junior Conservatoire, started performing at an early age but says the Russian trip will be one of his musical highlights to date.

Finlay said: “I’m most excited about hearing different types of music and how the language sounds. I’ve always wanted to go to Moscow and this will be an incredible experience.”

Student Ruairidh Gray travels from South Uist to study at RCS and feels this trip is something special: “I’m so excited about performing in the Bolshoi. As a Gaelic singer, I feel like I’m following in the footsteps of Calum Kennedy, a brilliant singer from the Scottish islands who performed at the Bolshoi in the 1950s.”

Ruairidh is part of the Junior Conservatoire’s Transitions 20/40 initiative, which helps ensure people with talent and potential have access to training at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland regardless of their background. He continued: “Transitions 20/40 has been great for my music skills and it has brought me lots of fun too. My tutor is Iseabail T NicDhomhnaill and she has given me lots of great advice.”

The youngest students making the journey to Moscow are Innes Scullion and Archie MacKechnie. Both are aged 13 and have been studying their instruments (Innes on the bagpipes, Archie on the accordion) since they were seven; however neither have performed on a stage of this international scale. “My school friends all really surprised – it’s not your usual concert” said Archie whilst Innes was looking forward to getting to trying the local delicacies, “I want to see what the different food and language will be like!”.

The Junior Conservatoire students’ trip to Russia is the latest collaboration between the Royal Conservatoire, ranked in the world’s top three of performing arts education, and Rostov State Rachmaninov Conservatoire. Earlier in 2017, Erasmus+ funding was granted for an innovative project of musical and educational collaboration between the two institutions. It comes as the Royal Conservatoire, ranked number one in Scotland for graduate employability, celebrates its 170th anniversary.

Jenn Adams, Head of the Junior Conservatoire, said: “Students at the Junior Conservatoire like Jessica are empowered and encouraged to be the best they can be. The trip to Russia will give our students the opportunity to broaden their horizons as they seek to fulfil their artistic potential and develop crucial life skills which will stand them in good stead for their future careers in the arts and beyond.”

More information on the Junior Conservatoire is available by going to: rcs.ac.uk/jr