• The Cumnock Tryst, Scotland’s composer-led music festival returns for its 5th year
• Programme includes the world premiere of MacMillan’s All the Hills and Vales Along commemorating the centenary of the end of World War One
• Musicians and artists both professional and amateur come together in a four-day passionate celebration of music
• The Cumnock Tryst takes place in and around the town of Cumnock from 4-7 October 2018

The Cumnock Tryst has announced a programme packed with global and local musical talent for the 2018 Festival in October this year. The event was created and is run by eminent Scottish composer Sir James MacMillan, and is now in its fifth year. Happening at various venues in and around the town of Cumnock, where MacMillan grew up, the Festival runs from Thursday 4 – Sunday 7 October.

The Tryst continues a now established tradition of bringing both world renowned and local performers and musicians together for a programme of known works and premieres of brand new commissions spanning classical, choral, jazz, pop and folk.

The Festival opens on Thursday night with Artists in Residence the Edinburgh Quartet premiering a new work from Rory Boyle, String Quartet No 2 Quartetto da Requiem, alongside works by Haydn and Dvořák in St John’s Church in Cumnock.

The Festival’s centrepiece is the world premiere of All the Hills and Vales Along, a new oratorio written by Sir James MacMillan. The work was commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra and 14-18 NOW, the UK arts programme for the First World War centenary, to commemorate 100 years since the end of the First World War. The composition will be set to texts by the Aberdeen-born war poet Charles Hamilton Sorley and performed by Ian Bostridge, the Edinburgh Quartet, Nikita Naumov, Sirocco Winds, the Dalmellington Band and the Cumnock Tryst Festival Chorus, conducted by Eamonn Dougan on Saturday 6 October at Cumnock Old Church. Following the premiere of the Chamber version of this work at Cumnock Tryst, the full orchestral version will be premiered at the Barbican on 4 November. The Cumnock Tryst concert will also feature Charles Ives’s The Unanswered Question and a short new work by Electra Perivolaris.

Expanding the Festival’s previous folk and jazz elements, this year Cumnock Tryst has invited Mercury Prize nominee C Duncan, whose band is currently supporting Elbow’s world tour, to perform on Thursday night at the free Festival Club. Classically trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Duncan has drawn on his classical background to make his own folk/dreampop crossover to wide critical acclaim.

A special solo Leider recital from renowned English tenor Ian Bostridge & Italian-Dutch pianist Saskia Giorgini takes place at New Cumnock Town Hall on the Friday evening, and Giorgini presents her own solo piano recital the following afternoon.

This year’s Festival continues its literary collaboration with the famous Boswell Book Festival. Chairman James Knox will interview Stephen Johnson whose recent book How Shostakovich Changed my Mind embraces the topic of the healing power of music for mental health.

Continuing the tradition started in previous Trysts of working with Scotland’s young creatives, and to celebrate 2018 as Scotland’s Year of Young People, the Festival has a strong focus on young Scottish creative talent. The Chronicles of Cumnock, a project undertaken with Doon Academy in association with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS), is the culmination of a 10-week project to create a series of music and dance performances. The project will give students at Doon Academy access to leading composers including Jennifer Martin and Sir James MacMillan, and choreographers Jenny Fallon and Megan Peasgood, with Martin Travers from Glasgow’s Citizen’s Theatre stitching together the various components with stories from the East Ayrshire community. Their focus will be around the First World War and a performance of the finished work will be presented on Friday afternoon at Cumnock Academy with Edinburgh Quartet and RCS String Quartet.

The National Youth Orchestras of Scotland Jazz Futures perform alongside Digital Orchestra, a group of talented young musicians with disabilities developed through Drake Music Scotland. Digital Orchestra was created using inclusive music technologies and has since performed around the world.

The NYOS Jazz Ambassadors will also return for their own Festival Club performance on the Saturday evening, with other club performances at the Dumfries Arms from popular Scottish folk artists Kilda. The group comprises of some of the best young names on the Scottish Trad scene, including BBC Young Traditional Musician of the Year finalists Mhairi Marwick on the fiddle, Luc McNally on guitar and vocals, and 2018’s winner Hannah Rarity on vocals.

A very special finale concert will see renowned choir The Sixteen and conductor Harry Christophers perform a programme based on the Eton Choirbook, along with new commissions from Sir James MacMillan and emerging composers Phillip Cooke, Joseph Phibbs and Marco Galvani. The choir have a long-standing relationship with MacMillan, and performed his Stabat Mater in the hallowed ground of the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel earlier in 2018.

Sir James MacMillan said, “The last five years have been an exciting journey for me as the Festival has gradually put down roots in the town where I grew up.

“There are already many glorious memories of the first four Trysts and this year we can expect something truly joyous. We welcome the Edinburgh Quartet this year as Artists in Residence. The great tenor Ian Bostridge joins us for the first time and The Sixteen, one of the world’s great choirs are back this year with their conductor Harry Christophers.

“I wanted to mark our fifth Festival by writing a special new piece. All the Hills and Vales Along will bring together some of our starry visitors with the local Dallmellington Band and the Festival Chorus conducted by Eamonn Dougan. I have been waiting for a long time to write this piece for Cumnock.”

Cumnock Tryst is supported by Creative Scotland, East Ayrshire Leisure Trust, 14-18 NOW, Genesis Foundation, William Grant Foundation, and Howard & Roberta Ahmanson, among others.