'We were arranged in height order. The taller ones got big instruments'

April 21, 2006

Tuba virtuoso James Gourlay has been appointed director of the School of Music at the RSAMD.

The world-renowned tuba virtuoso James Gourlay, head of wind and percussion at the Royal Northern College of Music, has been appointed director of the School of Music at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

Mr Gourlay dropped out of the Royal College of Music when he was offered a job at the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra at the age of 19. Throughout his career as a player and conductor he has also been a visiting teacher at music schools around the world. But after joining the RNCM, he decided that he needed to boost his academic skills, and took a masters at Leeds University.

He said: "I have a different view of academic degrees now. I think they can enhance a performer's ability to play."

Mr Gourlay grew up in a Fife mining community, an area that spawned writer Ian Rankin, artist Jack Vettriano and many musicians. He was conscripted into the school band, but playing the tuba was not his choice. "We were arranged in order of height. The taller ones got big instruments. But I took to (the tuba) straight away."

Mr Gourlay, who will continue to play alongside doing academic work, has recorded five solo CDs, the latest of which, British Tuba Conductor , won particular acclaim.

He is delighted to return to his native land. "I am particularly pleased to be part of the reverse brain drain and to be joining Scotland's forward-looking international conservatoire at a time when it is ideally placed to contribute to the culture of the nation."

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