Opera Scotland

Philip White

RCS appoint new Head of Opera

Posted 15 Mar 2017

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, ranked in the world top three for performing arts education, has appointed a new Head of Opera. Philip White will join Scotland's national Conservatoire in August 2017.

Philip joins the Royal Conservatoire from his role as Chorus Master at the Opéra de Lyon in France and from Grange Park Opera where he is Head of Music. His appointment follows the announcement by the Royal Conservatoire's current Head of Opera, Professor Timothy Dean, to stand down from his role at the end of the academic year. Professor Dean will continue to work with the Royal Conservatoire as Visiting Professor in Vocal Performance with particular responsibilities towards the development of RCS Voices and other performance events.


Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, Principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said:

"As one of the world's top 10 performing arts institutions, it is only fitting that we attract the finest teaching staff. I am delighted that Philip is joining us. He has a genuine passion for opera and brings a wealth of experience at the highest level. This is an important appointment for us and I look forward to welcoming Philip to the vibrant community at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland."

Philip White commented: "I am thrilled and honoured to have been invited to take on the role of Head of Opera at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and to be returning to Glasgow, where I was myself a student at the former RSAMD (Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama) and where I started out professionally with Scottish Opera.

"The challenges of training young singers of today to be the opera singers of tomorrow are many, but I look forward, with relish, to taking on the task in the Alexander Gibson Opera School at the Royal Conservatoire – a school of which Scotland can be justifiably proud."

Philip studied music and German at the Universities of Leeds and Vienna before winning the Walter Susskind scholarship which enabled him to work as a repetiteur in the opera school of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, then the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD), between 1988 and 1990.

He subsequently worked with Scottish Opera, becoming a full-time member of the music staff in 1991 where, as a repetiteur, he assisted in more than 20 productions. The following year, he joined the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester as vocal coach and repetiteur. During this time, he also worked with numerous opera companies throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Philip was Chorus Master of the Royal Danish Opera in Copenhagen from 2004 to 2012 under Kasper Holten, the outgoing Director of Opera at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Philip was involved in 12 Bayreuth Festivals in Germany and worked on the revival of Philip Glass's Satyagraha and the premiere of The Perfect American at English National Opera. He also worked on the Welsh National Opera production of Moses und Aron.

Philip will lead the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland's prestigious Alexander Gibson Opera School, which has an international reputation for producing outstanding vocalists who perform in opera houses throughout the world. Opera productions regularly receive four and five star reviews in the national press. Recent reviews include:

· The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland has been ranked in the top three places in the world to study the performing arts. The quality and attention to detail of its opera productions certainly supports this accolade. (4* review for Two Great French Romantic Tragedies, Bachtrack, March)

· The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland cannot be accused of choosing safe crowd-pleasers on the basis of this double bill. Le Vin Herbé by Frank Martin was a breathtaking discovery. Electric choral singing characterised this production from the start. Julia Daramy-Williams shone as the doomed Isolde amongst a strong cast. (4* review for Two Great French Romantic Tragedies, The Herald, March)

Professor Sharkey paid tribute to Professor Dean, who was the Royal Conservatoire's first Head of Opera in 1994, for the dramatic growth and development of the Alexander Gibson Opera School:

"Tim set up our MMus Opera and Repetiteur programmes and has been instrumental in developing collaborations with national and international organisations including Scottish Opera, the Edinburgh International Festival and the conservatoires in St Petersburg and Rostov-on-Don.

"We are very grateful to Tim for making the Royal Conservatoire the destination of choice for aspiring opera singers and repetiteurs and for developing our choral performances – work which he will continue in his new role."

The Royal Conservatoire, ranked number one in Scotland for student employability, is currently in rehearsal for its next opera production, Die Fledermaus, directed by Royal Conservatoire alumnus, Lee Blakely. 

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