Sir James MacMillan today launches a major initiative aimed at putting Scotland centre stage in the world of composition. As a composer with global acclaim, Cumnock will become a centre of excellence in the learning and teaching of composition, not limited to Scotland but for teachers and composers across the world.

Delivered through his festival The Cumnock Tryst and in partnership with Trinity College London, it is anticipated that over the next ten years, Cumnock will become an internationally renowned centre for composition that supports composers at the beginning of their careers; those teaching composition in schools; composers studying within higher education; and young composers still at school.

Sir James MacMillan, alongside his continued contribution to the world of classical music as a composer, has long been a champion of emerging composers; mentoring individuals, supporting music provision in schools and commissioning and premiering new works at the Cumnock Tryst.

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. As part of our work to date we have mentored many emerging composers and supported some incredible talent nurtured here in Cumnock, such as Jay Capperauld and Electra Perivolaris through commissions for our festival, the Cumnock Tryst.

“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.”

The first year of this new partnership is delivering a school-based composition project ‘Build It Loud’ and a new book co-authored by Sir James MacMillan and fellow composer and Chief Executive of the Cumnock Tryst, Jennifer Martin.

Build it Loud is a Composition Project for Advanced Higher Music Students at Cumnock’s Robert Burns Academy. The Barony Campus in Cumnock opened in late 2020, bringing together two secondary schools, two primary schools and a school for those with special needs, all under one roof for the first time.

To celebrate the opening of the campus, the theme of Build it Loud is the connection between the creative processes in both music and architecture.

Rupert Goddard the chief architect of Cumnock’s brand new Barony Campus of schools joined James MacMillan, Jennifer Martin and 15 Advanced Higher students, to explore the creative processes within architecture and composition. Each young composer is now being mentored by James and Jennifer along with a composition student from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland as they write a new piece for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s Brass Quintet.

All of the completed works will be performed and recorded in a live event within the Robert Burns Academy in 2021 (when restrictions allow). The works by the young composers will then be collated in a growing archive of music written by pupils in East Ayrshire and in due course, it is hoped made available to teachers and students via the Trinity College London website.

Trinity College London has now commissioned a new book for music teachers and young composers from James MacMillan and Jennifer Martin to illustrate the compositional process and to support those teaching and learning composition in the upper years of secondary school. This book incorporates much of the teaching processes used in the Tryst’s composition projects for schools and will be launched at The Cumnock Tryst Festival in October 2021.

The book will be supported by a series of UK and international online and local seminars and Q&A sessions as well as an archive of footage and materials designed to support and bring to life the processes explored in the book.

Sir James MacMillan 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.”

Stuart Pearce, Trinity’s Director of UK & Ireland markets said, “Trinity’s 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.”