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Our Plans 

In 2016 the Royal High School Preservation Trust received planning consent to convert the former Royal High School into a new home for St Mary’s Music School.  This move would reinforce our status as Scotland’s national school of music and provide us with state-of-the-art facilities to expand our unique and exceptional specialist education and to extend our outreach programmes, masterclasses and workshops to reach children from communities all over the country. The plans include a small concert hall (capacity 280), recital rooms and teaching facilities which will enable the school to offer concerts and music education to a much wider audience.

These transformational plans are on hold until an appeal is heard which will consider a property developer’s plans, twice rejected by City of Edinburgh Council, to build a large hotel on this site.  The appeal process is due to start in September 2018 and should conclude with a ministerial decision at the end of 2018.

Supported by one of the largest philanthropic arts gifts to the nation, the proposed conservation and restoration of the iconic Thomas Hamilton building as the new home of St Mary’s Music School, with a state-of-the-art public concert hall and public garden, is backed by Dunard Fund.  Managed through the Royal High School Preservation Trust, Dunard’s exceptional gift to the nation would help protect Edinburgh’s UNESCO World Heritage Site status and conserve the integrity of the neo-classical building that gave the capital the moniker, the Athens of the North.

The project will enable St Mary’s Music School to position itself as a centre of youth music in the capital and significantly broaden and enhance access to music and musical education for young people throughout Scotland.   It will allow the school to increase its number of pupils from 77 to 120 promising young musicians, whilst extending its existing outreach programme which includes masterclasses, choirs and a wide range of group and individual music lessons. 

The new concert hall will ease the undersupply of performance space in Edinburgh and will be capable of staging over 100 public performances a year, attracting audiences of over 20,000 annually.

Photograph: The former Royal High School on Calton Hill, Edinburgh