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An empty theatre with 3 floors of red seating, laid out in a half-circle, lit up with bright white lighting.
Samantha Mcshane stands facing the camera. She is wearing a pink top and a lanyard.

Samantha McShane

Why I love Glasgow's music scene: Samantha McShane

March 25, 2022

Head of Artistic Planning at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) Samantha McShane answers our questions on why Glasgow, as the UK’s first UNESCO City of Music, is a top city for music lovers.

Samantha Mcshane stands facing the camera. She is wearing a pink top and a lanyard.

Credit: Campbell Parker

1. What makes going to a gig in Glasgow so special?

How many artists have we heard saying how much they love playing shows in Glasgow….so many! I genuinely believe this when I hear it and I think it’s a lot to do with the spirit of the people of Glasgow. Our love of music and support of artists shines through in a gig, we don’t do things by halves and we go all in. There’s also a sense of community when you’re at a gig in Glasgow, everyone comes together in their love for who is playing and you’re all together in that moment.

2. Tell us about a music moment that sums up your experience of the city?

A huge crowd in front of the OVO Hydro stage. Green lighting floods the circular venue.

In a former life, I worked as Head of Programming at the brilliant Manchester Camerata Orchestra, pioneers of Hacienda Classical. The first year we brought the Hacienda Classical show to Glasgow was a huge moment for me. The show was in the OVO Hydro and it was packed with people, including family and friends and the vibe from the crowd was out of this world. That response you get from a Glasgow crowd is second-to-none, music is in our blood. We’re proud when an artist comes to Glasgow and we want to show them we’re here for it!

3. Why do so many talented musicians come out of Glasgow?

The music scene in Glasgow is open to all. From DIY gigs to the huge amount of music venues and spaces that are being more collaborative, there’s a clear entry point and journey as you grow as an artist. From a classical perspective, we have such incredible teachers and mentors who are willing to give fantastic opportunities to young people. At RCS, we have an incredible violinist, Daniel Pioro, who has created a new string group ‘Studio Collective’. Daniel has really nurtured this group and allowed them to be curious and explore lots of different types of music.

4. What's your favourite Glasgow venue?

A pedestrianised street leads towards a large building with the sign Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. People walk around and 1 person views a city map.

Apart from our iconic Barrowlands, I’d have to say Glasgow Royal Concert Hall (GRCH) and RCS's Stevenson Hall and Ledger Recital Room. GRCH promotes such a huge range of shows from the brilliant Royal Scottish National Orchestra to Scottish bands and a personal favourite of mine, The Bootleg Beatles. The venues within the RCS, which are like home to me, are largely undiscovered by lots of people in Glasgow. We host classical, trad, jazz, world music, electronic and contemporary music in them.

A small orchestra play in an intimate theatre space.

Credit: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

The wealth of music and standard of artists that we promote is pretty epic. In February this year, we had Scotland’s pioneering string orchestra Scottish Ensemble work with our students, performing two shows. We transformed the Stevenson Hall with creative lighting, worked with Ali de Souza (RCS’s Associate Head of the BA Acting degree) on choreographing the show. It totally blew me away because although it was what people would consider ‘classical music’, it was presented like a piece of theatre. Visit RCS's website to see the huge amount we are promoting from music, dance, theatre, musical theatre and much more.

RCS is one of the world's top 5 destinations to study the performing arts.

QS World University Rankings


5. When travelling the world, how do you describe Glasgow and the city's music scene?

I describe it as a melting pot of so many different genres in one small but perfectly formed city. From traditional nights in the Ben Nevis, jazz at the Blue Arrow, discovering new bands at King Tuts, seeing the next generation of artists at RCS, our brilliant orchestras at GRCH and City Halls, headline artists at the OVO Hydro and our amazing Celtic Connections Festival, what more could you ask for?

6. What would you recommend to first-time visitors to the city?

The exterior of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum shows the Victorian brown sandstone building with its turrets rising into a blue sky.

The Barras would be one of the first places I would recommend and whilst there, take a stop at Barras Art and Design to check it out. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is always up there on my list, I love spending time there and you might even catch an organ recital in the epic museum. The west end and its amazing architecture is also a must – the University of Glasgow and a walk around all the cool little independent shops and coffee shops in the area is a beautiful Sunday jaunt.

RCS host over 500 events a year from their 5 performance spaces. Visit RCS's website to see what's on.
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