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Former Tutors & Pupils

Through the years, NESMS has been lucky to welcome many wonderful faces through our doors. Have a look below to see our past tutors and some of our most well-known former pupils.

Former Tutors
Former Pupils

Eleanor Dennis

Soprano Eleanor Dennis, who studied at NESMS with Raimund Herincx, is a graduate of the RCM International Opera School. Since 2012 she has performed regularly with the English National Opera and Scottish Opera and has sung Ginevra Ariodante for the Salzburger Landestheater as well as Helena in staged performances of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Aldeburgh Festival.

Highlights on the concert platform include performances at Three Choirs Festival, and with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, and Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra.


Ian Wilson

Ian Wilson was a woodwind student at NESMS with Lawrence Gill, and is now our Visiting Professor of Clarinet and Recorder.  From NESMS he went on to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he won the Principal’s Prize and the Woodwind Prize twice, once on clarinet and once on recorder.  Now a Professor of Early Music at Guildhall and of Avant-garde Recorder Music at Trinity, Ian teaches at Eton College and plays with the Flautadors.


Donald Gillan

Donald Gillan studied cello at NESMS with Eileen Croxford and won scholarships to the Royal College of Music and the Royal Northern College.  He has been a guest player and soloist with many orchestras and has performed at the Edinburgh Festival to great acclaim.  He also plays in duos and quartets and his musical life is an extremly varied one.


Joseph Long

Joseph Long was a piano pupil of David Parkhouse and then latterly of John Blakely at NESMS. He left Aberdeen to study at Cambridge, but has now returned to his native city, and has completed the circle by himself becoming a tutor at the school where he was taught.  Joseph is much in demand as a concert pianist and spends much of his time teaching both at NESMS and at Aberdeen University.


Oliver Searle

Born in North Berwick, former NESMS piano pupil Oliver Searle studied composition with John Maxwell Geddes and Gordon McPherson at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (at that time RSAMD) where he now holds a lecturing post.

Oliver is frequently involved in the creation of music for theatre, and now has his own contemporary music group, SYMPOSiA, which he co-founded in 2002. He has written works for various orchestras and ensembles including the Britten-Pears Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.


Sally Garden

Former pupil, mezzo-soprano and musicologist Sally Garden, hails from an Angus farming family. A member of the Walter Scott Minstrelsy Project (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz) and former Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre for Scandinavian Studies (University of Aberdeen), her recital and research career encompasses international collaborative work, festival appearances, concert promotion, publishing, editing, new media work, and composition.

A versatile performer and scholar, Sally, earlier in her career was also Historical Musician in Residence at the Wighton Heritage Centre, Dundee, where she directed a 3-year programme of events to unfold one of Scotland's finest music archives. In more recent work, she has pioneered the first ever live music event at the National Library of Scotland, inspired an award-winning Adult Education course on the music of Scotland, and appeared in recital at Troldhaugen, home of Edvard Grieg.


Lisa Milne

Back in 1985, Dorothy Hately telephoned the parents of a 14-year old Aberdeen schoolgirl who had just won a television 'Stars of Tomorrow' competition at His Majesty’s Theatre and suggested she come to the school for singing lessons.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Today, with leading roles for Glyndebourne, English National Opera, New York Metropolitan Opera, Dallas Opera Company, Paris Opera de Chatelet and Scottish Opera under her belt, and a tour of Japan with Sir Simon Rattle completed, that girl, Lisa Milne, is indeed a star.  And she puts a large part of her success down to the tuition she received at the School in what was a crucially formative part of her education.

"I worked with Jean Webster on my singing technique on a weekly basis and with Neil Mackie on interpretive work when he came up from the Royal College of Music," remembers Lisa. "They did a fantastic job – when I went on to audition at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Pat McMahon commented on how well I had been taught and prepared.  Not only had Jean and Neil taught me a wide range of repertoire, it was the right repertoire for my voice. Their efforts were the lynchpin of my whole career."

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