Michael O'Donnell

ARTFORMS: Music , Oboe


Michael O’Donnell is, in the opinion of his RCM tutor, one of the finest oboists of his generation who brings a generosity of spirit in all he does. While at the RCM, Michael won the Knights of the Round Table Prize and the Chamber Music Prize.

He has been principal oboe and cor anglais of the National Youth Orchestras of both Scotland and Great Britain and principal oboe of Camerata Scotland. At the end of his third year at RCM, he was awarded the highest mark of any student in his year for his end of year recital. He graduated in 2006 with the top mark in the woodwind faculty and with a first-class honours degree.

Michael was brought up in Scone, Perthshire. His musical ambition is to develop a career in chamber music and orchestral playing. He gained a scholarship to study on the RCM Integrated Masters course (MMus).

Michael is very interested in the Suzuki teaching method and, in addition to his playing, aims to develop the application to oboe teaching.

How the Award Helped

Michael met Donald Dewar in 1997 and then later during the campaign for the devolution of the Scottish Parliament. If he hadn’t gone on to study music, he says he would have gone into politics.

The Dewar Arts Award will help finance Michael through his MMus course.

Since the Award

Michael graduated from the RCM in 2008 with an MMus, Distinction. In late 2010 he was offered the post of 2nd oboe and cor anglais in the Northern Sinfonia and also the post of 2nd oboe in the Irish Chamber Orchestra. Michael writes that he still can't believe he's playing in some of the major concert halls of the world. "Growing up in a small village in Scotland, I had no idea my career would allow me to see so much of the world so quickly."

I was really struck by [Donald Dewar’s] kind nature and passion for politics and it is a real pleasure to accept an award in his name