Composer Sir James MacMillan launches bid to turn Ayrshire home town into global hub for making new music

Scotland's leading composer has unveiled plans to turn his home town in Ayrshire into a global hub for the making of new music.

Sir James MacMillan, who was born in Cumnock in 1959, launched his own festival in the town in 2014.

Sir James MacMillan, who has already set up his own annual festival in Cumnock, has set out ambitions to turn the town into “a major initiative aimed at putting Scotland centre stage in the world of composition.”

He has revealed plans to work with the music education body Trinity College London over the next 10 years to nurture the careers of fledgling composers and their teachers.

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The project is aimed at attracting leading teachers and composers from around the world to Cumnock, and turning the town into an international “centre of excellence in learning and composition.”

The partnership will be launched with a school-based composition project and a new booked on composition co-authored by Sir James and Jennifer Martin, chief executive of the Cumnock Tryst festival, which was staged for the first time in 2014.

Under the schools project, they are mentoring 15 Advanced Higher student as they write a new piece of music for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s brass quintet.

Sir James has already announced plans to launch an extra festival in Cumnock this summer, as well as the annual event in October, which has attracted leading singers, musicians, orchestras and choirs to Cumnock. Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Evelyn Glennie are both expected to perform in the new event in June.

Sir James said: “It has long been an ambition of mine to take all the experience and learnings we have built over many years of teaching composition in the schools around Cumnock and East Ayrshire and make those available to teachers and students further afield.

"Teachers are under an incredible amount of pressure and for many composition is a challenging topic to tackle.

"We’ve seen fantastic results at both primary and secondary school levels through our work here and feel we can really help support and empower those tasked with teaching composition in our schools across the UK.

“The resources we create will not just be focused on teachers, but also support students studying composition at a higher education level or even self-taught.

“I really believe that here we have the skills and resources to create an internationally recognised centre of excellence which will benefit the potential composers in the area, but also those around the world.”

Stuart Pearce, Trinity’s cirector of UK & Ireland markets, said, “Our relationship with Sir James and the Cumnock Tryst is very important to us and we are delighted to be able to support this invaluable and ground-breaking work.

"The publication of this book is a wonderful way to underpin the centre of excellence initiative and we look forward to a long and valuable collaboration, making a real difference to the lives of young musicians everywhere.”

Sir James added: “At a time when those who make music face so many challenges, we are very glad to be able to continue our plans to create a centre of excellence in the teaching and learning of composition.

"Working with Trinity College London we can make the resources we will develop available to a wide network of music and education establishments around the world to support the creation of new music everywhere.”

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