JEFFREY Sharkey, who has this week taken over as principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS), has a tough task on his hands.

His predecessor, John Wallace, is a hard act to follow.

The newly retired Mr Wallace exuded effervescence and energy as he brought radical change to Scotland's leading musical, theatre and drama school - formerly the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama - during his 12-year tenure.

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Mr Sharkey's reign promises to be slightly less extrovert, but the future looks bright nonetheless. He has vowed to consolidate the RCS's formidable strengths, but wants to promote its home-grown assets while at the same time increasing its international stature. His intention to extend the bursary system to give more young people the chance to study there is to be warmly applauded, as is his aim to make the RCS more welcoming to the public and more hands-on in promoting the dozens of performances there.

Mr Sharkey, who has moved his family over from their home in Maryland in the US, is a pianist to trade and is clearly determined to strike the right note. The RCS is clearly in safe, but talented, hands.