CV for Ailsa Aitkenhead 


Flat 9, 1 Lochend Park View, Edinburgh, EH7 5FB 

tel: 07891405393 email:  


Ailsa Aitkenhead is a professional pianist, accompanist and piano teacher, with a significant interest in working with students in higher education. She studied piano accompaniment at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. She graduated with distinction, achieved the Alex Menzies award for an outstanding accompanist and was highly commended in the governor’s recital prize. Since then she has worked as a staff accompanist at Edinburgh University and St Andrews University.  She is the Pianist in Residence for the Reid Consort Choral Society; Principal Pianist at St Marks Unitarian church; and the Head Accompanist for Three Bridges Opera company. 

Ailsa is a frequent performer across Scotland.  She has performed with Edinburgh Society of Musicians; Greyfriars kirk; St Michael and All Saints Edinburgh festival concert series; Balerno Music Festival; Scottish Arts Club and many more. She has a wide range of duos and collaborations in performance.  

Recent highlights have included a radio broadcast on BBC Classics Unwrapped with her trio The Empyreon Ensemble; the best-selling recital at Chamber Music Scotland’s ‘At One With Music’ series; and a performance as soloist in Rhapsody in Blue with Edinburgh University Sinfonia Orchestra. Ailsa is booked for more recitals in August, including a cello and piano concert in the Inverness at 1 with music series, and a set of solo piano recitals in Glasgow based around the works of Chopin. 

Music Qualifications and Awards  

2013-2015: Masters degree (MMus) in Piano Accompaniment, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland  

(Distinction, graduating June 30th 2015)  

2015: Highly Commended in the Governors Recital Award for best Keyboard Recital at RCS  

2014: Alex Menzies Memorial Award for Outstanding Accompanist at the RCS 2015  

2014: Finalist (with April Koyejo, soprano) Elgar/ Spedding Memorial Prize Lieder Competition  

2014: ABRSM diploma, piano performance  

2009-2013: BMus, Edinburgh University (2:1)  

Work History:  

September 2020-present: Staff Pianist at Edinburgh University. Role involves participating in performance classes and working collaboratively with students to prepare their end of year recitals.  

July 2016 – present: Freelance musician, working including work for Edinburgh University and St Andrews University, as well as choral accompaniment, opera repetieurship, piano teaching and performance. 

September 2015- June 2016: Graduate Studio Accompanist at Edinburgh University. Work involved playing for all performance classes, student exams, auditions, and lunchtime concerts. Also included arranging rehearsals with students, and providing coaching and feedback in performance classes. 

Recent Performance Highlights  

February 2020 – Edinburgh Society of Musicians, solo piano performance and performance with Charlotte Whittle, soprano 

February 2020 – Recital at Dingwall Parish Church with Pentland Trio (Emma Donald violin, Tim Cais cello) 

February 2020 – Solo recital at Inverness old High church, At one with music recital series 

December 2019 – Accompanist for launch concert of Three Bridges Opera Company at Castlandhill house 

November 2019 – Rhapsody in Blue piano concerto with Edinburgh University Sinfonia 

November 2019 – Performance at Scottish Arts Club with Emma Donald (violin) 

November 2019 – Performance on BBC Classics Unwrapped with Jean Johnson (clarinet) and Jessica Leary (soprano) 

October 2019 – Performance in Balerno Music Festival with Jean Johnson and Jessica Leary 

August 2019 – Performance at St Michael and All Saints with Sarah Moore (soprano) as part of the Edinburgh Festival Concert Series 

June 2019 – Greyfriars kirk performance with Gal Trio (Emma Donald violin, Katie Johnstone cello) 

Before the covid-19 disruption Ailsa was booked to perform in the children’s concert in Usher Hall and Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, as part of the RSNO orchestra.  

In April she was due to perform Finzi’s Eclogoue for piano and strings with chamber orchestra.  

She also had a recital with soprano Sarah Moore at St Michael and All Saints Church and a cello/ piano recital with Tim Cais in Dingwall.  

In May she was booked to perform Faure’s Requiem with the Reid consort and professional dancers. 

In June she was booked to perform a solo piano recital at Stirling Parish Church.  

Over the lockdown she has kept busy providing recordings for other musicians and teaching online.  

She has performed with two musicians from the military for their end of year recitals.  

She successfully ran two livestream concerts at Edinburgh Society of Musicians – with baritone Daniel Brenner and soprano Sarah Moore 

She has worked online and now in person with the students at Edinburgh University to prepare their final year recitals.  

She has applied for funding (results pending) to run a concert series at Edinburgh Society of Musicians to support musicians early in their career who have lost out on performance experience.  

In addition: Various Choir Concerts (Christmas, Spring and Summer concerts). A great number of student exam recitals, numerous university-based student recitals and recitals for private events. 


2019- present – Head Accompanist for Three Bridges Opera Company (Director Nell Drew) 

Upcoming Repertoire – The Marriage of Fiagro and The Magic Flute 

2016-present – Has worked as a repetiteur on multiple occasions for the following opera companies 

Paisley Opera – The Witches of Paisley (Director Simon Hannigan) 

Aria Alba – Semele (Handel)  (Director Nell Drew) 

Voice Arc – Ariadne auf Naxos (Strauss)  (Director Nell Drew) 

Byre Opera – The Cunning Little Vixen (Janacek)  

Xerxes (Handel) 

Edinburgh Studio Opera – The Marriage of Figaro (Director Will Conway) 


Jun 2015: Highly Commended in Governors Recital Prize for keyboard  

Oct 2014: Gerald Moore Award with April Koyejo (soprano) (selected to compete by RCS)  

Oct 2014: Kathleen Ferrier Young Singer Award (selected as accompanist by RCS, with Jack Sandison, Bass, through to the final)  

Nov 2014: Finalist for Elgar/ Spedding Memorial Prize (a Lieder duo competition where equal weight is given to voice and piano), with April Koyejo, Soprano.  

2013-present Extensive experience as an accompanist for music competitions including Edinburgh Competition Festival, Tovey Memorial Prize, Scottish Brass Band Competition, Kathleen Ferrier young singer award, and many others 

Choral Accompaniment 

July 2019- present: Reid Consort 

(Conductor: Cole Bendall) 

September 2016- present: Pentland Singers 

(Conductor: Ian Munro) 

September 2016-September 2018: Edinburgh Practice Choir 

(Conductor: Derrick Morgan) 

2015: Associate Accompanist for the National Girl’s Choir   

(Conductor: Christopher Bell)  

2013-present: Stirling University Choir  

(Conductor Alastair Warwick)  

2013-2016: Conservatoire Singers  

(Conductor: Maximillian Fayne)  

2014-2015: Bridge of Weir Choral Society  

(Conductor: Christopher Barr)  

2013-14: Les Sirènes  

(Conductor: Andrew Nunn) Performances: 27/10/13 Clyde Auditorium; 13/12/13 – Glasgow Royal Concert Hall; 17/12/13 - BBC live radio broadcast  

2013-14: Carlisle Choir (Conductor: Andrew Nunn)  

Music Teaching 

Regularly teaches a wide range of students, of all ages and abilities (up to grade 8 and beyond) 

Church Music  

2016 – present – Lead pianist at St Marks Unitarian church 

 A piano solo, as well as postlude and prelude are prepared for the service every week.  

Musical Theatre 

2011-13: Southern Light Opera. Employed as the rehearsal pianist for Southern Light Opera for two shows, Curtains and Oklahoma. Played for auditions, choir, solo singers and dancers, and also in the orchestra for the performance of Oklahoma at Kings Theatre, Edinburgh, March 2013.  

2007-2009: Kelso Light Opera. Rehearsal pianist for productions of South Pacific and Mac and Mabel  

In Addition  

Extensive experience as accompanist for ABRSM exams, including strings, brass, woodwind and voice, from grades 1-8, diploma and LRSM exams.  

Accompanist for auditions, including Edinburgh Music Society, Edinburgh Studio Opera, Les Sirènes entrance auditions, RCS entrance auditions, NYCOS, Southern Light Opera.  

Accompanist for Lieder, Opera and Ballet Summer Schools at RCS  

Excellent Sight-Reading Skills  

Extensive Recording Experience