Library and Information Services, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Monday, 28 November 2011

A Play, a Pie and a Pint - New Voices

The well-established lunch-time play series at Oran Mor, A Play, a Pie and a Pint has a special series of student productions this week.  Quoting from the website:-

New Voices
Monday 28th Nov - Saturday 3rd Dec
"In an exciting new venture A Play A Pie and A Pint has invited students from Glasgow University, Glasgow Caledonian University and the University of the West of Scotland to submit short 9 minute plays for production at the end of the Autumn Season. These 5 works are the result of that initiative and Oran Mor is delighted to be helping these young playwrights to take their first steps onto the professional stage."

  • Lipstick, Powder and Paint by Victoria Bianchi (Recent graduate of University of West of Scotland)

  • Dreams of Fiji by David Cosgrove (Recent graduate of Glasgow Caledonian University)

  • One Straight Line by Stewart Ennis (Recent graduate of Glasgow Caledonian University)

  • Godfather by Emily Aitchison (Recent graduate of Glasgow University)

  • Just Short of Sparkling by Caeley Elcock (Glasgow University)

Scots Music Group

Our community music students may be interested to follow the activities of this Edinburgh-based community music group:-
Scots Music Group is a community-based charity located in Edinburgh. We run traditional music classes, informal sessions, ceilidhs, and many other social events.

On this day in 1853: Finlay Dun

On 28th November 1853
Scottish musician Finlay Dun died aged 58.

"I've never even HEARD of Finlay Dun!", I hear you cry.

Why he matters? 

Although he's now largely forgotten, Dun was much respected in his time, as performer, scholar and arranger.  It's interesting to see what activities occupied a Scottish Victorian musician's career - and find out more about the circles in which he moved.

Finlay Dun (1795-1853) was born in Aberdeen, attended grammar school in Perth, and spent most of his adult life in Edinburgh.  His father was a dancing master, and the young violinist Finlay joined his father in this.  He attended Edinburgh University from 1815-16 and is on record as having taught dancing to Elizabeth Grant of Rochiemurchus in December 1816.  He studied violin in Paris and then in Milan (1820-25), where he also learned counterpoint, composition and singing, and played viola in the royal theatre of San Carlo.

Back in Edinburgh, he became leader of the Edinburgh Professional Society of Musicians’ concerts in 1827, and worked as a music teacher.  Although Dun applied for the Reid Chair at Edinburgh University in 1841, he was unsuccessful. 

Dun married in 1828.  In 1829, Mendelssohn dined with the Duns on 28 July, and went to the triennial highland pipers’ competition with Dun the next day.

Amongst other works, his notable output in the field of Scottish music includes:-
  • 1830   A Selection of Celtic Melodies
  • 1836-8 Vocal Melodies of Scotland
  • 1838   Appendix no.1 in William Dauney’s Ancient Scotish Melodies.  (Dun was encouraged to write this Appendix, on the grounds it would be good for his CV.)
  • 1846   Oliphant, Carolina (Lady Nairne), Lays of Strathearn: arranged with symphonies and accompaniments for the piano-forte by Finlay Dun. 
  • 1848   Orain na h-Albam: a Collection of Gaelic songs
  • 1848-9 George Farquhar Graham, Songs of Scotland. Edinburgh: Wood, 1848-9.  (Dun contributed 26 arrangements – only two less than Graham himself.)
Check the Whittaker Library catalogue to see what the Royal Conservatoire of Library has available.

Visit Copac (the union catalogue of British university and national libraries) for a more comprehensive list.

This blogpost is one of Whittaker Live's On this day series of Scottish musical history posts.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

'Letter to my students': a US professor tells it how it is

This came up on the Twittersphere - the letter which Steve Aird, a Maryland professor, sends to his students at the start of session. 

It basically says, getting an education is hard work. I'll teach you; you must do your bit; and you'll get the marks you deserve!  Read it here.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Opera singers competition, Germany

18th International Competition for Opera Singers 10-17 April 2012
"Ferruccio Tagliavini"

Internationale Sommerakademie fur Operngesang (I.S.O.)
organised by
Stadtgemeinde Deutschlandsberg
Oper Graz

For opera singers (1st section - age limit 33 years) and voice students (2nd section - age limit 24 years)

Email for further information.

This will also be posted on Whittaker Live's Awards, Grants, Prizes page.

Thursday, 24 November 2011


Heather Nicoll and Bryan Allen
Trumpeter and conductor Bryan Allen, former Head of Brass and Instrumental Performance, is to receive a Fellowship from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland today.  'Whittaker' deplores media intrusion, but felt it was not inappropriate to share with you some of the highlights of Bryan's career.

Here's his own post at the Old Loughburians' Association - Loughburgh Grammar School's alumni website.

You can find works conducted by Bryan on the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland's Whittaker Library Catalogue - here.  (The Buxton Orr CD - made when we were the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, RSAMD, is available on Amazon.)
  • Searching our catalogue under Fine Arts Brass - in which Bryan played for many years - yields lots more hits!
  • Staff and students here can listen to Bryan's trumpet playing streamed on Naxos - visit our electronic resources website and pick internal or external access depending where you are.
Today's combined Graduation Ceremony and Conferment of Fellowships will also see Fellowships awarded to Vicky Featherstone of National Theatre Scotland and Alex Reedijk, of Scottish Opera.

Vicky Featherstone and Maggie Kinloch
Degrees will be conferred for the MA in Classical and Contemporary Text (Acting and Directing), MA Musical Theatre (Performance and Musical Directing), Master of Music (all specialisms), and Master of Opera.  A few postgraduate diplomas and undergraduate degrees will also be conferred.

NB As promised - more scenes from behind the scenes ...

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The leading researcher

Vitae publishes a series of booklets for researchers starting out on their research career. 

Now, a new booklet: The Leading Researcher - click here for the pdf.

Alternatively, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland researchers can wait for a print copy.  Karen has just requested some.


Anyone needing to give a public presentation may be interested in a blogpost by Patter (Pat Thomson), a Nottingham professor in Education: it's called 'Killing me softly, slide by (PowerPoint) slide'.  Recommended.  Read it here.

Monday, 21 November 2011

On this day ... 22nd November 1930

Marjory Kennedy Fraser may not be to everyone's taste today - her Gaelic song settings are now seen by traditionalists as decidedly "fake" and inauthentic.  Certainly, they're art-songs, and occasionally with a hint of Debussy in the accompaniment.

Nonetheless, her songs were on everyone's pianos in the early to mid 20th century, and RSAMD alumna Lisa Milne did a great recording not so long ago.

On the date she died, 22nd November, why not take a fresh look at her contribution to Scottish musical history?  Here's what we have in the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland's Whittaker Library.  Check the "Collection" links in the library catalogue, to see what printed music, recorded songs and music books we have.

On this day, 21 November 1835


Borders Songwriter James Hogg,
'The Ettrick Shepherd',
died 21 November 1835.
  • Primarily remembered today for his Jacobite song collection, the 2-volume Jacobite Relics,
  • - and his novel, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner
  • Friendly with Sir Walter Scott
However, researchers into Scottish music and literature regard his contribution as significant, to say the least.
Why not take a look at what we have in the Whittaker Library at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland?  Here's a list from our catalogue.  (Tip: you can always save the results of a search by copying the hyperlink at the top of the results screen.)

  • The University of Stirling is the UK centre for Hogg research - here's their James Hogg website.
  • Dr Kirsteen McCue at the University of Glasgow's School of Critical Studies is working on an edition of Hogg's songs with Janette Currie from Stirling University.

'On this day...' : a series of Whittaker Live blogposts about Scottish musical history

NB Picture is from a website of high resolution antiquarian images - many thanks to Graven Image.

Scotland's History Festival at the Scottish Storytelling Centre

Going to be in Edinburgh this week?

22nd - 27th November 2011, Scotland's History Festival

Friday, 18 November 2011

Catalogue searching for singers!

"I need this song ...."

The Whittaker Library catalogue lists the contents of all our song collections and recorded song collections, unless there are over 100 songs in the album.*  If you're looking for a song, and you know even some of the words of the title, go ahead and search the catalogue.  Start by searching on words that you're sure about - and don't bother with "the" or "a"! 

Limit on collection (whether recording, vocal score, or whatever) to see if we have the format you need.

If you're not sure about the words of the title, that makes things more tricky.  And if the song is an aria in an opera or oratorio, then - yes, that's more challenging.  I don't index every aria and recitative in an opera.

You can search printed indices or bibliographies if you know the first word(s) of a song or aria.  If you don't know the first word(s), it may actually be more fruitful to Google it.

Today I had a challenge.  The first word was either "In" or "Oh" or "Un".  Guess what?  I Googled it.  Then searched our catalogue for the correct title.  Found it - literally in the nick of time.

*  I memorably indexed all 600-odd songs in the Scots Musical Museum.  It wasn't until I came to look for the book that I realised there was a problem: I'd reached the point where the catalogue entry was too long, and it didn't display in the catalogue at all.  And that's why I draw the line at 100 songs per catalogue entry!

Piano competition, Yekaterinburg (Russia) 2012

Whittaker has just received notice of a piano competition:-

IV International
Competition of Pianists
In the Memory of Vera Lotar-Shevchenko
25 June - 9 July 2012
in Yekaterinburg

This will also be noted on Whittaker Live's Awards, Grants, Prizes page

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Andrew Dixon's latest Reflections on a Creative Scotland

The London 2012 Festival programme - the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad - has just been launched and despite being the furthest away from London, Scotland’s programme is probably the most comprehensive outside of the Olympic host city.

Read the rest of Andrew's blogpost here.

Bright Club Glasgow

Further to Whittaker's blogpost the other day, be sure not to miss the Bright Club Glasgow event tonight, Thursday.  A must - 'Whittaker' is only sorry he can't be there. 

Read on ... stand up comedy by researchers!  You can also tweet @BrightClubGLA and @BrightClubEDN.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

On this day ... 16th November 1780

What is folk music?  Is it really music "of the folk"?  Which folk?  Country folk? (See Bibliolore's blogpost today about Charles Seeger and folkness.)

Okay, what about music written by someone, published as "trad", and then becoming part of the oral tradition?

What about someone having a laugh at his compatriots expense?  (Just a bit of mischief, you might say.)  What kind of words would you use to promote your "national" collection?

Today is the birthday of Robert Archibald Smith, compiler of six books called The Scotish Minstrel (yes, the spelling is right) and a smaller Irish Minstrel (which got him into copyright trouble with the Irish songsmith Thomas Moore).

R. A. Smith, 16th Nov,1780 - 3rd Jan, 1829

He was born a Scottish weaver's son in London, came back to Scotland and abandoned the weaving trade to become an organist and music teacher first in Paisley and later in Edinburgh.

Much, much more could be said about his use of metaphors to characterise his collection and place it historically. (But maybe not on this blog posting! Visit our Minstrels and Metaphors page.)  Ask to see his Scotish Minstrel - the Whittaker Library has a couple of volumes.  University Library and national collections have lots more.

National Trust for Scotland seeks creative artists in all genres

Showcase your creative work at Pollok House, Glasgow

Hannah Teasdale, Senior Learning Assistant for the NTS, has sent 'Whittaker' details of an exciting opportunity for creative artists in all media.  You can get more information direct from Hannah.  Here's the challenge:-

  • Pollok House in Glasgow is seeking emerging and established artists/ creative practitioners to submit proposals for art work to be included within an exhibition at Pollok House Glasgow.
  • Student applications encouraged, but anyone can apply
  • Great opportunity to display your works.
  • Proposals should be in response to selected objects from Pollok’s collection of paintings and artefacts.
  • Proposals in all mediums will be considered eg photography, audio/visual projects, sound installations, design,written text, dance and textiles.
  • Proposals should be well-considered and the relation to a specific artefact clearly explained. (Link can be explicit or implicit, whether this is exploring the media used, concept, composition or theme.)
AIM of exhibition: to view objects in different ways and use them to inspire new work, new perspectives and new ways of seeing.
Application pack and images of objects from Pollok’s collection email:

Deadline 14thDecember 11pm

SMALL PRINT: All costs associated with the works, whether selected or not, must be borne by theartist/s. However if candidates wish to sell works during the exhibitions runthis service can be provided but will include commission.

This link is also posted on Whittaker Live's Awards, Grants, Prizes page.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Tribes and Tribulations

In the THE (Times Higher Education) 10th November 2011, article by Adrian Furnham.

Beware the muddy waters of interdisciplinary research, and the different foibles of different disciplines.  Not to mention the style-guide pedants who believe that there's only one correct way of doing anything, be it references or research approach.

An interesting read - click the link.

Bright Club Glasgow

Stand-up comedy for researchers - banish your conference-speaking nerves for good!: first event this Thursday night.

and for more info contact Zara:

CFP - Electronic Visualisation and the Arts

Tuesday 10th July – Thursday 12th July 2012
Venue: British Computer Society,
Covent Garden, London WC2E 7HA

The EVA London annual conference tracks and presents the development and application of electronic visualisation technologies, in art, music, dance, theatre, the sciences and other fields.

Artists, researchers, creative techies and academics This fantastic futuristic annual conference is for you! International participation is very welcome, as ever.

•Registration now open for EVA London 2012; Deadline for proposing a paper: 22.1.12

Also saved at our new CFP page.


Sounds like some new kind of perversion, doesn't it? But basically, Pat Thomson writes about the perils of submitting substantially the same paper to two different journals.  And that's called self-plagiarism.

Dangerous, indeed.  Read on ...

Reflections on a Creative Scotland

Interesting new blogpost on audience participation, by Andrew Dixon - here.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Lochhead Dracula at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Whittaker is sorry he only saw Dracula at the Royal Conservatoire yesterday.  It would have been nice to have seen Medea - also by Scotland's Makar - as well.

Still, it was a great performance.  Alasdair Hankinson rattled his chains engagingly and maniacally throughout, linking the various threads of the plot together.  (How he did that balancing act with the chair is a complete mystery to me - surely anyone else would have fallen flat on their face, rather than just gracefully lowering it forward with their full weight shifting from the legs to the back of the chair?) 

David Bode was a chilling Dracula, whilst Ruby Richardson and Eve Ponsonby had us wondering whether Lucy and Florrie were both just a little highly-strung from the outset.  As for Van Helsing, played by Brian Fisher - was the hysterical laughter a sign that he, too, was just a little 'touched'?  Or was the unspoken message that we can all seem a little unhinged at times of tension?

Whittaker has reviewed plenty of books - and indeed musical performances - in his time, but he has never reviewed a play before.  What do you think?  Is he picking up the right points?

Oh, yes - and he did enjoy the background piano music.  What was it?!

Whittaker's first book review

Friday, 11 November 2011

Win an amazing day….and a lifetime of listening!
"To celebrate the launch of The Show Must Go On, our friends at the Royal Opera House and EMI Classics have put their heads together to create a Show VIP Package Prize. The winner will receive two tickets to an end-of-year show at The Royal Opera House, a backstage VIP tour and ‘A Festival of Ballet’ collection of 50 CDs from EMI Classics, featuring music from Swan Lake and The Nutcracker.

The competition will take place on Twitter – you’ll find us @showgametweets. All we ask is that you send us your crazy tales of your show experiences. Whether it’s that time you had to deliver dentures to Someone Quite Famous’ dressing room during a work experience stint or the evening you watched Peter Pan fly into the audience and hover there while stage crew scrambled to keep the show on track- we want to hear them! The best #showtales will be collated and we’ll be very picky about our winner… the biggest challenge of all? Making us laugh with an anecdote of just 140 characters."

DISCLAIMER:- Whittaker is telling you about this out of the kindness of 'his' heart, but this is a competition run by the Royal Opera House and EMI Classics. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the Whittaker Library.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Page to Stage: costume exhibition

Costume Exhibition

16 November / 6pm
Whittaker Library

Free Event: All welcome and refreshments will be provided.

Graham Hunter launches the Whittaker Library Costume Exhibition which will highlight students’ work.

Graham Hunter started work as a Stage Manager working in various Scottish theatres. He then moved into set and costume design, then into art direction for television. He graduated from the then RSAMD in 1980.

He is an expert on the history of costume and has a large collection of male fashion from 1740-1940. It covers everything from headwear, coats, jackets, trousers, shoes and all related accessories. Latterly, he has moved into costume design and has designed a number of period productions.

Recent productions he has designed include, "Van Gogh", "A History of Scotland" and "The French Revolution" for BBC. He has also worked on feature films "Cloud Atlas", "The Awakening" and "Albert Nobbs”. Future projects include research and preparation for "The Last Days of Pompeii".

He will give an illustrated talk on costume and the design process, with an opportunity for audience questions. He will relate the process to real historical clothes, and the differing needs of designing for theatrical and TV presentation.
For further information, please contact Alan Jones or Hannah Saks on in the Library.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

On this day, 10th November 1827

William Stenhouse (1773-1827)

One of the most important early historians of Scottish song, William Stenhouse, died in 1827.  Impoverished, his widow ended up in the workhouse.  Not much of an ending for an elderly lady whose husband had compiled the "Illustrations" which accompanied Robert Burns and James Johnson's Scots Musical Museum.*

Actually, the Illustrations had nothing to do with pictures - they were annotations on every single song in the Musical Museum volumes.

Stenhouse's Illustrations  weren't published in his lifetime - that was done by librarian David Laing, later.  In fact, the Illustrations appeared in various guises - alone, as a single volume, or bound in with the Scots Musical Museum itself, and they were reissued with extra comments, later in the century.  Some of his historical comments were fanciful or even misguided, but he made a significant start, and many later musicians referred back to his work.

Look at the Illustrations in the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland's Whittaker Library - catalogue entry here.  You can read more about Stenhouse in a recent doctoral thesis, 'Our Ancient National Airs', by Karen E. McAulay. 
Roxburghshire, birthplace of William Stenhouse
(thanks to for image)

* "Elderly?" Actually, only a little older than Whittaker "himself", come to think of it ... longevity wasn't so great in those days.

Wigs @ Royal Opera House (a YouTube video)

This YouTube link might interest our Costume Department ... Wigs at the Royal Opera House.

Edinburgh's Museums & Galleries

'Whittaker' has just received notification of all the exhibitions and events happening in Edinburgh's museums and art galleries this season.  Find out more at the Edinburgh Museums website.
‘Reflection' highlights the inspiring work of 22 artists and makers who have been supported by the Visual Arts Awards and Craft Maker Awards run by the City of Edinburgh Council in partnership with Creative Scotland since 2000.  (19 November 2011 - 12 February 2012, Free, Monday - Saturday 10am - 5pm, Sunday 12pm - 5pm)
For further information please visit or contact Margaret Findlay on 0131 529 3963 or email

Sixteen of the most prominent Scottish tapestry artists working today present the best of current practice in an ambitious, visually exciting experience, which revels in the meticulously crafted. This retrospective exhibition by Scottish Tapestry Artists Regrouped (STAR*) includes work from the 1960s up to the present day.  (12 November 2011 - 8 January 2012, Free, Monday - Saturday 10am - 5pm, Sunday 12pm - 5pm)
For further information please visit or contact Margaret Findlay on 0131 529 3963 or email

Previously… Scotland's History Festival will celebrate the rich, colourful and remarkable history of Scotland and her people and their extraordinary contribution in shaping the modern world.  A series of diverse and exciting events taking place over thirteen days, the festival will take place in venues across Edinburgh from Thursday 17 until Wednesday 30 November 2011.  For further information please visit or contact Margaret Findlay on 0131 529 3963 or email

A fun - and very funny - demonstration of dozens of clockwork toys!  For further information please visit or contact Margaret Findlay on 0131 529 3963 or email

Come to Lauriston as it was in the run-up to Christmas 1910. (Sunday 11 December 2011, 2pm and 3pm at Lauriston Castle.) Performed by Living Lauriston (Lauriston Castle Community Drama Group).  For further information please visit or contact Margaret Findlay on 0131 529 3963 or email

Looking back: Scottish Learning Festival Keynotes

Anyone involved with the BEd course will be interested to know that Education Scotland is promoting  highlights of the Scottish Learning Festival 2011.
SLF Showguide
If you did not take home your Show Guide, or if you were not able to attend SLF this year, you can find details of exhibitors and seminars in the digital Show Guide.

Keynote presentations – available online now
If you missed the inspirational keynote presentations, you still have the opportunity to watch keynotes from Michael Russell, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Dr Ben Levin and Dr Bill Maxwell on the SLF website, where you can access them from the home page.

Sir John Jones’ keynote presentation is available to watch from the SLF Extra Glow group.  (Glow login required.)

Monday, 7 November 2011

Chamber music competition for strings

Charles Hennen Concours (Competition)
12-15 April 2012
27th season

Competition, concerts and a workshop

Details on website, Application deadline: 1 February 2012.

  • Violin, viola and cello
  • String ensembles with piano (3-4 performers)
Application form on website, or contact:-
Stichting Charles Hennen Concours
Postbus 1,
6400 AA Heerlen,
The Netherlands

This posting will also be listed on Whittaker Live's Awards page.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Composition competition (Udine, Italy)

Ninth International
Composition Competition,
An image from Udine's Wikipedia page
Città di Udine

More info:
Full rules and regulations on the website, but vital dates given below:-
Works should be posted to the competition secretary at:TEM - Taukay Edizioni Musicali - via del Torre 57/5 - 33047 Remanzacco (Ud) - ITALY

The closing date is 31 March 2012. The postmark will be deemed to be the date of submission.   (Should submission be made by internet, the postmark on letter containing the signed entry form sent by ordinary mail, will be deemed to be the date of submission.)

The final decision of the Jury will be made public by 31st July 2012.

This competition will also be found on Whittaker's Awards page.

Researcher to Researcher - social media for mutual support

A few weeks ago, Whittaker blogged about #PhDchat, a Twitter-based discussion forum for postgraduate research students.  (Here's the wiki link for PhDchat, too.)

Now, Whittaker learns that there's another such forum, run for research students at Warwick University: find out more about it at Warwick's blog, Researcher Life (, where Charlotte Mathieson posted yesterday about their first live chat session.

And if the support of your peers on your research journey sounds like a good thing, then don't forget about the acclaimed Australian research support blog, TheThesisWhisperer.  ("Whittaker" has contributed to this.)

Thomas Wilson book-launch: official biography

On 4th November, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland's Whittaker Library hosted the launch of the official biography of Scotland's eminent composer Thomas Wilson CBE: Thomas Wilson Introit: Towards the Light - the Biography of Scotland's Great Composer by Margaret Wilson and David Griffith.

Born in the United States and raised in Scotland, Thomas Wilson rose from modest beginnings to a position of international recognition as one of the leading composers to come from Britain in the latter half of the twentieth century. From his earliest years music was central to his life.

The story of Wilson’s life as a composer and a man is told by his wife Margaret, who shared the early years of privation as Wilson strove to develop his unique voice and was also able to share in his later success that included important commissions and prestigious awards.
Further information: Thomas Wilson, Composer - website

Scottish Archives

The appointment of a new Archives Officer at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is a matter for celebration - welcome to Stuart Harris-Logan!

You can visit our Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Archives page here.

So with Scottish archives firmly in our sights, here are some useful websites to get us thinking along suitably archival lines:-

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

BUFVC Course on copyright for images etc

British University Film and Video Council

Learn new skills and develop your knowledge:
full details here.

  • 13th March 2012 - Copyright Clearance for Print, Broadcast and Multimedia Production
  • 12th June 2012 - Teach and Design Educational Video Successfully 

PhD Life: a blog about the PhD student experience

New from the University of Warwick, this may resonate with doctoral students. Worth a look.

PhD Life - and thanks to the Thesis Whisperer for sharing this with us.