Nicola Benedetti named honorary president of Royal Conservatoire

The post has previously been held by Dame Judi Dench, and Phantom of the Opera producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh.

Violinist Nicola Benedetti appointed as honorary president of Glasgow’s Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Grammy award-winning violinist Nicola Benedetti has been appointed Honorary President of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS).

She joins an esteemed company of Honorary Presidents of the institution which has included Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh, and Dame Judi Dench.

The 34-year-old’s first duty as Honorary President will be to address graduates from the Classes of 2020 and 2021 who are returning on Wednesday, July 6 to celebrate their achievements, having missed out on their in-person ceremonies due to the pandemic.

In 2019, Benedetti formalised her commitment to music in education when she established The Benedetti Foundation. 

Since its launch, the foundation has worked with over 29,000 participants, aged two to 92, from 103 countries through its transformative in-person workshops and online sessions for young people, students, teachers and adults. 

In March 2022, she became the director designate of the Edinburgh International Festival, becoming festival director on October 1, 2022.  

In taking the role she will be both the first Scottish and the first female festival director since the festival began in 1947. 

Benedetti was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2019 New Year Honours list in recognition of her international music career and work with musical charities throughout the United Kingdom, and awarded the Queen’s Medal for Music in 2017, the youngest-ever recipient. In addition, she holds nine honorary degrees to date.

It was also announced that Dr Bridget McConnell, who retired last month as chief executive of Glasgow Life, was appointed Honorary Vice President.

The roles of Honorary President and Vice Presidents are historic positions at the RCS, which this year celebrates its 175th anniversary. 

Honorary Presidents and Vice Presidents support the conservatoire in a range of ways, including as ambassadors and engaging in graduation ceremonies. 

Appointees are invited to serve for a five-year term. 

Commenting on the appointments, Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, principal of the RCS said: “In Nicola and Bridget, as our new Honorary President and a Vice President, the RCS is extremely lucky to have outstanding international cultural leaders and role models who are passionate and knowledgeable advocates for the power of the arts. I’m thrilled and proud to have them as part of our community.

“The RCS has a history of prestigious cultural figures and notable leaders as Honorary Presidents and Vice Presidents. Our warmest thanks to Sir Cameron Mackintosh, our retiring president for his service. He continues to hold a special place in the heart and history of this institution, and we hope that our students, current and future, might continue to benefit from his thought leadership and experience. I’m also very grateful to Lord Gill, who recently completed his terms of office as an Honorary Vice President as well as Chair of the RCS Trusts.”

Commenting on her appointment, Nicola Benedetti said: “It is such an honour to be appointed Honorary President of the RCS as it celebrates its 175th anniversary and to follow such an illustrious list of people in this role. Institutions that nurture the highest excellence have a vital role to play in the future of Scotland.”

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