LISTENING to a parade of gifted young musicians strut their musical stuff through a roster of concerts over the past two months in the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, I found myself wondering what happens to all these talented youngsters. Where do they go after their student days? What do they do? Of course it would be possible to track many of them on the web, or through social media, if you do that stuff, but who has time? You do see the odd vaguely-familiar face pop up in one in one or other of the orchestras, and sometimes in a string quartet or a recital format. And the occasional individual, whether a composer, singer, instrumentalist, or whatever, tends to come into the public eye. Gareth Williams is a classic. I can still remember interviewing him in the old RSAMD, as was, during his student days, when he scoffed at the suggestion, made by one of his mentors or contemporaries, that he should write an opera. I seem to recall the genial, engaging young Irishman laughing that he didn’t even like opera. Well, he’s done a few now.

And another figure was composer Jay Capperauld, whose jazz-influenced, big-band type pieces, including an amazing composition called Heroin Chic, absolutely blew my mind. I’ve never heard such expert and idiomatic scoring. Capperauld was the real McCoy. And he developed too, with a later piece on Harry Houdini which was awesome in a way, though there was something missing in it, as I suggested to him in a conversation. Well-gone from the RCS now, Capperauld is still around. Indeed, the cheery, chatty young Ayrshire-man was one of the featured composers in the RSNO’s recent concert-project in the new RSNO Centre. And the fact that he has been taken under the wing of James MacMillan, who also recognises his potential, will do him no harm at all.

But these are the few. Many appear to vanish into their futures. And I guess that’s the way of it. It’s what happens to students: they grow up and fly the coop, leave the nest, or whatever. I wonder how many musical housewives there are out there. And I wonder if one student I knew is still to be found in a Glasgow hostelry, plying his vocal talents and playing his cabaret-style piano? It’s all music. One character who did haunt me a bit was the guitarist Sean Shibe. I knew about Sean, who was the RCS’s youngest-ever student, before he arrived there. John Wallace, the conservatoire’s former principal, made sure I did. He accosted me in the café-bar and, at his most voluble and volatile, raved about this very young lad who was coming to join the ranks of undergraduate students, and who would be under the alert eye of guitar professor, Allan Neave. Wallace was beyond excitement as he explained that Shibe could have gone anywhere, to any of the UK’s conservatoires or academies, but had chosen to come to Glasgow. And come here the young boy did. He was a discreet luminary, soft-spoken and un-flashy, both in his demeanour and his musicianship. He would pop-up in all sorts of instrumental contexts, do the business quietly and professionally, and always with mature artistry, then pop off again. His name began to appear, sometimes with a wee recital in a church or chamber music society.

For a period I received e-mails from a member of his family, always with fresh information about Sean’s progress and development. And then he graduated, moved on and moved out of the nest. I could have followed him on the web but, as is always the way of these things, I was aye busy and lost track. I was delighted to hear that he had been invited to join the BBC’s New Generation Artist scheme, the first guitarist in a scheme that is a real door-opener. Then the most recent issue of the one monthly magazine to which I subscribe, BBC Music, thumped through the letter box. There is always a cover disc with the magazine, and in this month’s issue the cd was devoted to guitar music, both solo and with orchestra. The guitarist is Sean Shibe. He plays every single note in the selection. The repertoire is fascinating: there is not a single mention of Rodrigo. Sean plays concertos by Villa-Lobos and Malcolm Arnold with the BBC Symphony and BBC National Orchestra of Wales. He plays solo works by Albeniz, Mompou and John Dowland. And he also plays his own transcription of a Bach Prelude, Fugue and Allegro. The magazine is international and influential, with a wide circulation. Sean is still in his early twenties. I guess we can say that the young guitarist is on his way.