Media Release: Royal Conservatoire of Scotland teacher wins prestigious BBC award

David Watkin, Head of Strings at RCS (AMS)

AN internationally-renowned cellist and head of strings at Scotland’s national conservatoire has been awarded the one of the BBC’s highly-acclaimed classical music awards for instrumental performance.

David Watkin, head of strings at RCS, has been awarded the BBC Music Magazine’s Instrumental Award for his recording of Bach’s Cello Suites. He is the first cellist to win this award.

The awards recognise the very best instrumentalists and composers in the classical music industry.

Says a spokesperson: “The BBC Music Magazine Awards are unique in that they are the world’s only classical music awards voted for by the public. The recording is also a travellers’ choice on the British Airways global playlist.”

The BBC magazine noted a ‘certain poignancy’ in the award for instrumental performance – which went to David Watkin for his album of JS Bach’s Cello Suites, saying: “It’s very hard to put into words why this recording is so special. One of the finest Baroque cellists at last commits to disc great works he’s lived with for many years… This is inspirational solo Bach of the highest order, intimate and exalted, and it’s a profoundly moving achievement.”

This award-winning recording was his last as a performer as, shortly after finishing the disc, he was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, which meant he could no longer play his instrument.

“This award makes a wonderful end of a chapter in my life,” Watkin said. “I’m still performing Bach, but now with a baton. As the years pass, music becomes more about what’s in your head and heart, and less about what’s in your hands.”

Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “I am extraordinarily proud of what David Watkin has achieved as a musician, performer and as an educator.

“His unique style of teaching has given our students opportunities to think differently about how they perform.

“David’s teaching encourages active listening, collaboration and thoughtful rehearsal and performance.

“Watching him use his unique talents to bring forth the next generation of world-class musicians is a great pleasure. He is one of our leading musicians and I am delighted that he has been recognised with this award and I am doubly proud that he has chosen to teach at RCS.”

David joined RCS as head of the strings department in 2014 and has revolutionised the way strings students at the Royal Conservatoire approach their music studies.

Bach’s Cello Suites is his latest recording, which has previously been awarded a Gramophone Award, with Gramophone writing: “Watkin’s profound musicianship, is more than enough to accelerate this recording of Bach’s Cello Suites to the top of the tiny league of ‘definitive’ recordings.”

The winners were announced at a ceremony at Kings Place, London, hosted by BBC Radio 4’s James Naughtie and BBC Music magazine editor, Oliver Condy.

“The thrill of listening to, shortlisting and then inviting our readers to vote on the finest discs of the year never diminishes,” said Mr Condy.

“The sheer variety of this year’s winners – from the intimate journey of one man and his cello in JS Bach to the vast forces assembled for Verdi’s Aida – simply underlines the vibrant state of classical music recording today.

“The sheer variety of this year’s winners – from the intimate journey of one man and his cello in JS Bach to the vast forces assembled for Verdi’s Aida – simply underlines the vibrant state of classical music recording today.”

Media enquiries to:

Katie Bell

0141 270 8387

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Ranked sixth in the world for performing arts education, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland delivers world-class teaching and research with global impact. The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is a national and international centre of excellence for the performing arts. Building on our roots in 1847 as a national academy of music, we are now one of Europe’s most multi-disciplinary performing arts higher education centres offering specialised teaching across music, drama, dance, film and production as well as encouraging trans-disciplinary learning throughout our innovative curriculum.

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Contact: Katie Bell
Phone: 0141 270 8387