Media Release: Nicola Benedetti and Barbara Dickson to be honoured by Royal Conservatoire

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Summer Graduation 2012

Nicola Benedetti, Barbara Dickson and David Hayman to receive first Honorary Doctorates from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

You are invited to send a photographer to the Royal Conservatoire, 100 Renfrew St, Glasgow on Tuesday July 3 2012 at 12.30pm

THE Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, will award five honorary degrees at its Summer Graduation ceremonies on Tuesday, 3 July 2012.

Amongst those to be honoured will be virtuoso violinist, Nicola Benedetti, and multi-million selling recording artist and Olivier Award-winning actress, Barbara Dickson OBE.

They will each receive a Doctor of Music award.

Alongside them to receive the honour of Doctor of Drama will be actor, director and humanitarian, David Hayman, artistic director of Scottish Ballet, Ashley Page OBE, and writer, broadcaster and former Bishop of Edinburgh, Richard Holloway .

The ceremonies take place at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland on Tuesday July 3 2012. Biographical details of the Honorary Doctors below.

All five Honorary Doctors will be available at 12.30pm at the main entrance to the Conservatoire. For more information please contact the Royal Conservatoire’s  press office on 0141 270 8387 or email .

Notes to Editors


Nicola Benedetti has captivated audiences and critics alike with her musicality and poise. Born in Scotland of Italian heritage, Nicola began violin lessons at the age of five.

In 1997, she entered the Yehudi Menuhin School, where she studied with Natasha Boyarskaya. After leaving the School, she continued her studies with Maciej Rakowski and then Pavel Vernikov.

Winner of the Classical BRIT Award for Young British Classic Performer in 2008, Nicola has previously released five CDs with Universal/Deutsche Grammophon, the latest of which featured Tchaikovsky and Bruch concerti with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and Jakub Hrusa.

Nicola made her debut at the Proms in 2010, and has performed at the Tivoli Festival in Copenhagen and the Echternach Festival in Luxembourg and was a featured artist at the Istanbul Festival in 2011.

Highlights of Nicola’s 2011/12 season include her debut with the London Symphony  Orchestra at the Enescu Festival in Bucharest and with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Zurich Chamber, Cincinnati Symphony, Detroit Symphony and Hallé orchestras.

She also recently participated in a highly publicised New York Philharmonic performance in Central Park with Alan Gilbert conducting. In September 2012 she will give a highly anticipated performance at the Last Night of the Proms.

In recent seasons, Nicola has performed with the Philharmonia, Royal Scottish National, Royal Philharmonic, BBC Scottish Symphony, and Czech Philharmonic orchestras as well as the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and City of Birmingham Symphony orchestras.

She has also worked with the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin, Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony, Orchestre Philharmonique de Montpellier, Russian National Orchestra, Het Brabants Orkest, KBS Symphony, and Japan Philharmonic, as well as symphony orchestras across North America.

She has worked with conductors such as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Jakub Hrusa, Louis Langrée, Alan Gilbert, Stéphane Denève, Andrew Litton, Sir Neville Marriner, Kristjan Jarvi, Paavo Järvi, Mikhail Pletnev, Donald Runnicles, Yan Pascal Tortelier, Mario Venzago, Diego Matheuz, Pinchas Zukerman and Jaap van Zweden.

Nicola performs in chamber music concerts with her regular trio, both in the UK and further afield with cellist Leonard Elschenbroich and pianist Alexei Grynyuk.

Since 2005, she has visited schools throughout the UK in conjunction with the CLIC Sargent Practice-a-thon, encouraging pupils to enjoy classical music.

In 2010, she became involved in Sistema Scotland’s Big Noise project, a music initiative partnered with Venezuela’s El Sistema (Fundación Musical Simón Bolívar). As a board member and the programme’s official musical, ‘Big Sister’, Nicola makes regular visits to Raploch, Stirlingshire to conduct masterclasses.

In her recording career, Barbara Dickson has earned six platinum, 11 gold, and seven silver albums. She has two Olivier Awards for her work in the theatre, firmly placing her as one of the most enduring artists in Britain.

Born in Dunfermline, Barbara began studying piano at the age of five and by 12 had also taken up the guitar. She developed an interest in folk music whilst at school which led to floor spots singing at her local folk club. In the late 1960s, she steadily built a reputation on the Scottish and English folk circuit, working with the likes of Billy Connolly, Gerry Rafferty, Rab Noakes, and Archie Fisher.

Willy Russell offered Barbara the role of the musician/ singer in his 1974 Beatles’ musical John, Paul, George, Ringo… and Bert, staged at Liverpool’s Everyman Theatre. The show was a huge success and after a sell-out Liverpool season it transferred to London’s West End. It was there that Robert Stigwoo signed her to RSO Records.

Her first hit single, Answer Me, was released in 1976 and a guest residency on the BBC’s hugely successful The Two Ronnies show followed later that year. Another Suitcase in Another Hall, her second hit, followed in 1977 when Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber invited Barbara to sing on the original cast recording of their new musical, Evita.

A move to the CBS record label brought Barbara further hit singles including Caravans and January February, and The Barbara Dickson Album in 1980 provided her with her first gold album. In 1982 her All For a Song album was certified platinum and went on to spend almost a year on the album chart. In 1985, Barbara’s I Know Him So Well, recorded with Elaine Paige, reached number one in the UK charts and went on to become a hit around the world, selling over 900,000 copies.

A return to the theatre in Willy Russell’s new musical Blood Brothers in 1983 marked her debut as a stage actress. The show transferred from Liverpool to London and in the process earned her the Best Actress in a Musical award from the Society of West End Theatres. Her major TV roles include Taggart, Kay Mellor’s Band of Gold, and The Missing Postman.

Her autobiography, A Shirt Box Full of Songs, was published by Hachette Scotland in 2009. More recently, she has presented two series of Scotland on Song with Barbara Dickson for BBC Radio Scotland, exploring folk and roots music. Following on from the show’s success, she presented a new show, Scotland in Tune with Barbara Dickson.

Barbara’s latest album, Words Unspoken, was released to coincide with her 2011 concert tour. Following on from her musical collaborations with Troy Donockley, the album explores the music of the British Isles.

Barbara currently lives in Lincolnshire with her husband and three sons. In 2001 she was awarded an OBE for her services to music and drama by H.M. the Queen.

David Hayman was born in Glasgow and first started his working life as an apprentice in a Glasgow steel yard. After studying at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (then the RSAMD) he spent the first ten years of his career at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, playing such roles as Hamlet, Troilus, Nijinsky, Lady Macbeth, Al Capone, Petrucio, Bosola, and, among many others, Mother Goose.

He played Jimmy Boyle in A Sense of Freedom and followed that with over 40 appearances in films such as Hope and Glory, Syd and Nancy, The Jackal, Ordinary Decent Criminal, Vertical Limit, Where the Truth Lies, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Burke and Hare, Screwed, and the soon to be released, The Domino Effect.

For ten years, he played Detective Chief Superintendant Mike Walker in Lynda La Plante’s Trial and Retribution for ITV.

As a director, he directed the BAFTA and Michael Powell Best British Film Award feature film Silent Scream, also The Hawk, and The Near Room. For TV he has directed Finney, A Woman’s Guide to Adultery, Cardiac Arrest, and Firm Friends.

For three years he was artistic director of 7:84 Theatre Co. He has directed many stage productions, including the world premieres of The Slab Boys Trilogy, and The Normal Heart, staring Martin Sheen. He was an associate director of the Royal Court Theatre, London.

His productions have garnered awards such as Bafta’s, Lawrence Olivier Awards, Time Out Awards, Silver Bear Award Berlin, and Royal Television Awards. He is a regular contributor to BBC 2’s Review Show.

In 2001, he set up the Humanitarian Organization, Spirit Aid, which is dedicated to the Children of Earth whose lives have been devastated by war, poverty, disease or lack of education and opportunity. He has run the organization, as head of Operations, since then and runs projects in Scotland, Afghanistan, South Africa, and Malawi.

David has three Honorary Doctorates and a Fellowship for services to the Arts and Humanity.

He was awarded the Institute of Contemporary Scotland’s Alistair Hetherington Gold Medal for Services to Humanity and was commended by the Beacon Trust for Bravery in Afghanistan. In 1991 he was given the City of Glasgow’s Gold Medal for Services to the Arts. He lives in Scotland with his wife and three sons.

Ashley Page, who received an OBE in 2006, joined the Royal Ballet in 1976, after graduating from the Royal Ballet School. With the Royal Ballet, Ashley was exposed to the classics, created roles in new ballets by Frederick Ashton and Kenneth MacMillan, and contributed to works such as those by Glen Tetley and, most significantly, Richard Alston.

Traces and references to classical dance underscore Ashley’s choreography, as evident in A Broken Set of Rules, the first work he created for The Royal Ballet in 1984, the same year he was promoted to Principal dancer.

By the end of the Eighties, he had created dances for a variety of companies, predominantly The Royal Ballet and Rambert Dance Company, and had worked within different artistic environments, such as Dance Umbrella and television.

These works included Pursuit (1987), Piano (1989), Bloodlines (1990), and Fearful Symmetries (1994), which received the 1995 Olivier Award for best dance production. Other pieces include Ebony Concerto (1995), Sleeping with Audrey (1996), Two-Part Invention (1996), Room of Cooks (1997), and Cheating, Lying, Stealing (1998).

Ashley has worked in collaboration with composers such as Michael Nyman, Orlando Gough, and Colin Matthews, and with fine artists and designers such as Howard Hodgkin, Deanna Petherbridge, Bruce McLean, John Morrell and Antony McDonald.

Ashley joined Scottish Ballet as artistic director in 2002 where he has taken on works by Balanchine, Ashton, Alston, Robbins, Brown, Petronio, Forsythe, Elo, MacMillan, Caniparoli, and Pastor alongside his own works and classics such as The Nutcracker (2003), Cinderella (2005), The Sleeping Beauty (2007) and Alice (2011). Under his directorship the Company has received various accolades such as the TMA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance in 2004 and the Critic’s Circle National Dance Award for Outstanding Repertoire (Classical) in 2008.

Richard Holloway is a writer and broadcaster and has written for many British newspapers, including The Times, Guardian, Observer, Herald, and the Scotsman.

He is the author of more than twenty books, including Godless Morality, Doubts & Loves, Looking in the Distance, and Between the Monster and the Saint: Reflections on the Human Condition. His latest book, Leaving Alexandria: A Memoir of Faith and Doubt, was published by Canongate in March 2012.

Richard was Bishop of Edinburgh and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church until he stood down in 2000.

He was Gresham Professor of Divinity in the City of London from 1997-2001, and was a member of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority from its inception in 1990 until 1997, and chaired its ethics committee.

He was on the BMA’s steering group on Ethics and Genetics from 1995-19998, and was a member of the Broadcasting Standards Commission from 2000-2003. Richard was chair of the Scottish Arts Council (now Creative Scotland) from 2005-2010.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and received its Gold Medal in 2008. He is the chair of Sistema Scotland, the charity that has brought the Venezuelan youth orchestra system to Scotland.

A frequent broadcaster, he has presented a number of television series, including Holloway’s Road, The Sword and the Cross, and Art and Soul. He regularly presents Sunday Morning with Richard Holloway for BBC Radio Scotland.

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Contact: Katie Bell
Phone: 0141 270 8387