Our Conductors

The Edinburgh University Music Society, with its three hundred plus members and regular schedule of performances, is no small ensemble. Combining quality of music with a wide repertoire, EUMS requires commitment at all levels. The Society continues to grow in strength, and this is in no small part due to the dedication of our team of conductors.

Neil Metcalfe
Headshot Neil MetcalfeNumbering around 200, the EUMS Chorus requires a conductor with a considerable amount of skill and dedication, not to mention a lot of patience. Thankfully, our conductor is more than capable of guiding the talents of the Chorus to bigger and better things year on year.

Neil Metcalfe read music at the University of Edinburgh before taking-up a scholarship in the opera school of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, where he trained as a répétiteur, vocal coach, pianist, continuo player and conductor. He worked for a number of years on the music staff of Scottish Opera, in opera houses in Australia (Sydney), Germany (Dortmund), the United States (Pittsburgh), Northern Ireland (Belfast), and also with many touring companies including Bolshoi Opera, Kirov Opera, Catalan National Theatre, and Deutsche Oper am Rhein.

As a performer he has recorded for the BBC (most recently with National Girls’ Choir of Scotland) and on the Linn Records label (most recently with Dunedin Consort in JS Bach’s Mass in B Minor) and enjoys a busy career as a solo artist, accompanist, MD and conductor. He has appeared in venues as far afield as Greenland and Australia in a wide number of genres from musical theatre to chamber music.

He is also a keen supporter of young people in music; he is chairman of the Scottish Schools Orchestra, a trustee of Edinburgh Young Musicians, and works as an examiner and adjudicator. Neil currently holds the posts of musical director of Edinburgh Grand Opera, Edinburgh Music Theatre Company, Balerno Theatre Company, our very own EUMS Chorus, Edinburgh Studio Opera, the Maltings Theatre and Opening Night Productions. He is also lecturer in Performance Studies at Stevenson College, Edinburgh.

Michael Devlin
Headshot Michael DevlinMichael has recently been awarded a degree in Economics and Accounting from the University of Edinburgh, specialising in the Creative Industries. He now works as Corporate Partnerships and Events Assistant at the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and has recently completed a two-year internship in Marketing & Communications with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. In 2006, Michael was awarded the Wolfson and ABRSM scholarships to study clarinet at the junior department of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) under Alison Waller. When beginning Edinburgh University, he continued tuition with Maximiliano Martin.

In 2013, Michael successfully auditioned for principal clarinet of the NYO. He has enjoyed the privilege of working with world-class conductors, including Vasily Petrenko, Vladimir Jurowski, John Wilson and Gustavo Dudamel, at many of Britain’s great venues, such as the Royal Festival Hall and Buckingham Palace, for the Queen’s Coronation Gala. He has made three televised BBC Proms appearances at the Royal Albert Hall in London with the NYO, most recently for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

From a young age, Michael has shown an interest in conducting, beginning lessons with Alasdair Mitchell at the RCS in 2008 and taking part in a week long conducting course with James Lowe in 2010. In 2012, he conducted the NYO in a premiere of a unique commission by Scottish composer Anna Meredith at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, and was subsequently asked to conduct the work at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the BBC Proms. Musical highlights of his time at university have included conducting the chamber orchestra’s tour to Budapest, the string orchestra’s annual tour to the Scottish Isles and the chamber choir’s tour to Krakow and Prague.

He is delighted to have the opportunity to make music with the players of EUMS Sinfonia and looks forwards to embarking on an exciting musical journey in September. 

Russell Cowieson
Headshot Russell CowiesonRussell Cowieson studied on a McFarlane scholarship at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (winning the premier performance prize, the ‘Governors Recital prize’) and the Guildhall School of Music in London. As a performer he has appeared with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the RSNO Wind Ensemble, Carol Kidd, Carla Bley and the Stan Tracey Quartet. His conducting studies were undertaken with Timothy Reynish, Baldur Brönnimann and George Hurst.

He is currently Musical Director of our very own Symphony Orchestra. His work with EUMS has gained much praise. Our concerts regularly sell out and have seen Symphony Orchestra tackle a wide range of challenging repertoire. Future plans include the commencement of work on an exciting new project which will see them perform James Macmillan’s The Confession of Isobel Gowdie in Dundee’s Caird Hall, to a specially created choreography for over 200 young dancers.

Deeply committed to education, Russell was the first recipient of the ‘Yamaha Instrumental Teacher of the Year’ award. In 2007 Russell was appointed Artistic Director of the International Wind Festival held at the RSAMD. Since 2008 he has served regularly on the faculty of the Royal Northern College of Music, Conductor Training Weekend and since 2009 he has been a member of faculty at the internationally renowned Canford Summer School of Music as teacher of conducting. Russell has worked with Young Sinfonia, the RNCM Junior School Orchestra, RSAMD Wind Orchestra, RSAMD Junior School, as a visiting specialist, adjudicator and examiner to the RSAMD, with the Scottish Schools Orchestra Trust, John Currie Singers and Orchestra, Cambridge Holiday Orchestra, Cambridgeshire Youth Wind Orchestra and Dundee Schools Symphony Orchestra.