James MacMillan launches Cumnock Tryst music fest

SCOTLAND’S leading composer has unveiled the line-up for the inaugural music festival he hopes will put his home town on the nation’s cultural map.

Composer James MacMillan. Picture: Robert Perry
Composer James MacMillan. Picture: Robert Perry

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra, National Youth Brass Band of Scotland, violinist Nicola Benedetti and the acclaimed choir The Sixteen will all be appearing at James MacMillan’s new event in his native Ayrshire.

It is hoped that the Cumnock Tryst, will be staged across six venues over four days in October, will allow MacMillan do for his home town what Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and Benjamin Britten achieved with their events in Orkney and Aldeburgh respectively.

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The six venues in the programme include two historic church buildings, Cumnock Academy’s assembly hall, and Dumfries House, the 18th century mansion saved for the nation by a Prince Charles-led taskforce seven years ago.

Also in the programme are Cumnock-born violinist Ian Peaston, the Glasgow-based quintet Pure Brass and leading theorbo player Elizabeth Kenny.

MacMillan was brought up in the East Ayrshire town, and lived there until he went to study music at Edinburgh University, before rising to become one of the UK’s top composers.

The festival’s name has been inspired by a piece that MacMillan wrote when he was still living there, when he set William Soutar’s love poem The Tryst to music.

He said: “It has been very exciting creating the programme for the first Cumnock Tryst.

“I have always been inspired by what Britten did in Aldeburgh, and what Maxwell Davies has done in Orkney, and always hoped it would be possible to do something similar in my home town.

“Growing up in Ayrshire, I remember the great enthusiasm for brass band and choral music. These will be running themes as the festival develops. The activity and involvement of the local community, and especially its schools will also be a core factor.”

Benedetti, who was born and brought up in West Kilbride, Ayrshire, before winning a place - when she was 10 - at the Yehudi Menuhin school for young musicians in Surrey, has agreed to be the patron of the event, which runs from 2-5 October.