Centre for Performance Science

The Scalpel and the Bow

The Performance Simulator Featured on BBC Radio 3


The BBC Radio 3 programme The Scalpel and the Bow explored how interactive, simulated performance environments are now being used to train musicians and surgeons to perform under pressure. Aaron Williamon, RCM Professor of Performance Science, and Roger Kneebone, Professor of Surgical Education at Imperial College London, discussed how they use simulated performance environments to introduce student musicians and trainee surgeons to challenging performance conditions. The pressures of the operating theatre and concert hall were recreated and the abstract inner world of the musician and surgeon during performance were explored in tandem. 

The programme was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 12 January and was available online until 18 January 2013. This site provides supplementary information, including recordings of interviews with the participating musicians, surgeons and researchers. To hear the interviews, click on the links under 'further information' below or navigate via the left-hand menu.  

Further information

Interviews with the participating musicians

Listen to interviews with cellists Jane Lindsay, George Ross and Linden Ralph about performing and their experiences in the concert simulation. 

Interviews with the participating surgeons

Listen to interviews with surgeons Alexandra Cope, Dominic PJ Howard and Yousuf Salmasi about performing and their experiences in the surgery simulation. 

Interviews with Aaron Williamon and Roger Kneebone

Listen to interviews with Aaron Williamon and Roger Kneebone about simulation training and performing under pressure. 

The performance simulator

The performance simulator is a project of the Royal College of Music, Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana (Lugano) and London-based creative design consultancy Studiohead. 


This programme came about due to a collaboration between Roger Kneebone and Aaron Williamon.


Jane Lindsay (cello), with Brigid Coleridge (violin), Agata Darashkaite (violin) and Christine Anderson (viola), playing Schubert's Quartet in Bb, Op.168 No.8, D.112 (1814).

George Ross (cello), with Agata Darashkaite (violin), Magdalena Loth-Hill (violin) and Louisa Tatlow (viola), playing Haydn's Quartet in C, Op.20 No.2, Hob. III:32 (1772). 

Linden Ralph (cello), with Itamar Rashkovsky (violin), Sarah Baldwin (violin) and Elijah Spies (viola), playing Beethoven's Quartet in c, Op.18 No.4 (1798-1800).

Bioharness readings were taken by Lisa Aufegger. 

Music photos are by Jean R Dedieu


Dominic PJ Howard, Alexandra Cope and Yousuf Salmasi.

Other members of the surgical team: Dr Aynkaran Dharmarajah (consultant anaesthetist), Kathy Nicholson (scrub nurse), Lilli Cooper, Kat Ford and Howard Tribe (surgical assistants), Alexander Harris (clinical research fellow) and Zinah Sorefan (research technician). 

The patient was played by Norma Jones. 

Surgery photos are by Howard Tribe Photography

Goldhawk Essential 

A Goldhawk Essential production for BBC Radio 3.

Sound Designer/Producer: Lucinda Mason Brown.

Executive Producer: Karen Rose.

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