Programme for 2016 Cumnock Tryst announced

  • Festival Patron, Nicola Benedetti with her piano trio; Genesis Sixteen and Drake Music Scotland return in 2016
  • Internationally renowned Bass-Baritone, Sir Willard White, and the remarkable Clarence Adoo make their festival debuts
  • Headspace and Pandora’s Box with John Kenny are artists-in-residence
  • World Premiere of specially commissioned work by Scott Lygate and Scottish Premiere of Cecilia McDowall’s Stabat Mater
  • Tom Service chairs The Cumnock Hour, Composers’ Forum
  • Popular Festival Club, Dumfries House Promenade events and more.

Sir James MacMillan CBE unveiled the programme for the 2016 Cumnock Tryst Festival in the Dumfries Arms Hotel, Cumnock this evening, 25 May 2016. The announcement was made at a special event featuring a performance by Granny Green in association with Live Music Now Scotland. 

Established by the internationally acclaimed composer in his home town in 2014, the Festival has already become a key date in Scotland’s cultural calendar and this year received one of the highest classical music accolades: a shortlisting for the RPS Music Awards. The 2016 Cumnock Tryst will feature over two thousand years of music from the ancient Celtic carnyx to Premieres of new commissions. It will be staged in venues across Cumnock and Auchinleck, and in Dumfries House over the weekend of 29 September - 2 October 2016.

“I am delighted to announce that our Festival Patron, Nicola Benedetti MBE, will be joining us again this year, performing with Leonard Elschenbroich and Alexei Grynyuk,” says Sir James. “When Nicola won the BBC Young Musician of the Year over a decade ago, Scotland was rightly proud. She has gone on to a stellar international career, but she has never forgotten her roots.”
 “I have watched The Cumnock Tryst grow into something magical in the three short years of its existence.” adds Nicola Benedetti. “I am honoured to be part of this extraordinary achievement, where first class performances combine with genuine community engagement to produce this rare and wonderful festival. It is a delight to return to perform in 2016.”

The centrepiece of the 2016 Festival will once again be a performance by Scotland’s newest festival chorus, which will give the Scottish Premiere of Cecilia McDowall’s Stabat Mater under the baton of Eamonn Dougan of The Sixteen. Joining them in the performance will be the talented young musicians of Genesis Sixteen, the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland Camerata and the RSNO Junior Chorus. Soloist in the performance will be the world famous Jamaican Bass-Baritone, Sir Willard White.

“It is a great pleasure to announce that Sir Willard White will make his Cumnock Tryst Festival debut this year,” says Sir James. “As well as performing with the Festival Chorus he will treat us to his very special interpretation of the first book of Aaron Copland’s American Songs. I am looking forward enormously to conducting his performance of these wonderful songs.”

This year’s artists in residence are Headspace and Pandora’s Box, both of which feature brass player extraordinaire, John Kenny. The two groups will perform a wide-ranging programme for the opening event at the 2016 Festival on 29 September including the World Premiere of The Barony A Frame by local composer, Scott Lygate. Commissioned specially by The Cumnock Tryst, the work is inspired by the monumental structure from East Ayrshire’s mining past which is situated between Auchinleck and Ochiltree. Lygate visited the site and took sound recordings of the frame, which he struck percussively. He has incorporated these incredible sounds into his music. 

“We are very much looking forward to working with John Kenny, Headspace and Pandora’s Box as our artists-in-residence this year,” says Sir James. “Their repertoire will span over two millennia from music of the ancient Celtic carnyx performed at Dumfries House to the World Premiere of Scott Lygate’s The Barony A Frame in Cumnock Town Hall.”

A key member of Headspace is Clarence Adoo MBE. A brilliant trumpeter, who had performed with leading jazz musicians including Courtney Pine, he was involved in a devastating car accident at the age of 35 which left him paralyzed from the shoulders down. Far from ending his career it was just the beginning of a new phase of music making. Adoo now performs on the specially created Headspace, a wind instrument controlled by his breath. 

As well as performing in a number of festival events Adoo and Kenny will be working in partnership with Drake Music Scotland on a series of workshops with children and adults with special needs from Hillside School and Riverside Centre, and with senior pupils from Cumnock Academy exploring the mysterious tale of Cumnock’s own ‘Bell Tree’. 

“We are also delighted that the remarkable Clarence Adoo will be joining us this year,” says Sir James. “The way in which he surmounted the challenges following his devastating accident and continued to participate fully in music making is an inspiration to us all.  We look forward to his contribution to the 2016 Festival and in particular to hearing the outcomes of the Bell Tree project which will be presented in a very special concert at Cumnock Academy on 30 September.”

Genesis Sixteen, the training academy for The Sixteen, one of the world’s great choirs, make a welcome return to The Cumnock Tryst in 2016. As well as performing with the Festival Chorus in the McDowall Stabat Mater, the group will give a recital on the evening of Saturday 1 October and take part in the Festival Service at the Old Cumnock Church the next morning. 

Other talented young musicians taking part in the Festival include the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s New Music Ensemble, MusicLab. The Cumnock Tryst has organised a special composition course for six RCS students, the results of which will be showcased at a short concert on the afternoon of 1 October.

This year’s Cumnock Hour, Friday 30 September, will be a Composers’ Forum bringing together Sir James MacMillan, Cecilia McDowall, Scott Lygate and a young composer from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. It will be chaired by the music critic and broadcaster, Tom Service.

 The popular Festival Club returns this year with three late night performances at the Dumfries Arms Hotel. On the opening night, 29 September, Cumnock Area Musical Production Society will treat the audience to a varied programme of choral and music theatre repertoire; on Friday 30 September the Causeway Trio will present their unique blend of Scottish traditional Jazz, Brazilianand Eastern European music. Saturday night’s club, meanwhile, features Jackie Oates, who since appearing as a finalist in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards in 2003 has established herself as a major presence in the folk world. 

Once again The Cumnock Tryst will end with promenade performances in the glorious setting of Dumfries House. Scott Lygate will perform on the contrabass clarinet in the Tapestry Room; John Kenny, carnyx, with young brass players from Auchinleck and Cumnock Concert Band will perform in the Entrance Hall; and Pandora’s Box, trombone trio, will play music for sackbuts in The Great Steward’s Dining Room. 

Tickets for the Cumnock Tryst 2016 concerts including festival passes available: by telephone on 01563 554 900; in person at Cumnock Town Hall, 62 Glaisnock Streetand Palace Theatre, Kilmarnock, and online via (Transactions are subject to Box Office booking fees).

Booking opens for Festival Patrons on 1 June and for Festival Friends on 13 June. 
Public Booking opens on 23 June 2016.

The 2016 Cumnock Tryst is being made possible with support from MacRoberts LLP, Genesis Foundation, Howard and Roberta Ahmanson Ayrshire Youth Arts Network East Ayrshire Council, Creative Scotland Fidelio Trust Minerals Trust, The Great Steward of Scotland’s Dumfries House Trust and William Grant Foundation as well as Festival Patrons and Friends. 

For further information on The Cumnock Tryst visit:
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Further information, interviews and images

Lesley Booth: 0779 941 4474/


Notes for Editors

The Cumnock Tryst was founded by composer Sir James MacMillan in 2014. The Festival’s name, The Cumnock Tryst, was inspired by a piece of music James MacMillan wrote in the 1980s when he was still living in Ayrshire. This was a setting of William Soutar’s love poem, The Tryst. Tryst is an old Scots word which means a meeting place, or a romantic rendezvous. The town of Cumnock itself ties into this sense of coming together as its Gaelic name, comunn achadh, means place of the confluence, as the town sits where the Glaisnock River and the Lugar Water meet. For four packed days and nights The Cumnock Tryst is a meeting place for music-lovers. 

Sir James MacMillan CBE

James MacMillan is the pre-eminent Scottish composer of his generation. He first attracted attention with the acclaimed BBC Proms premiere of The Confession of Isobel Gowdie (1990). His percussion concerto Veni, Veni Emmanuel (1992) has received close to 500 performances worldwide by orchestras including London Symphony Orchestra, New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics and Cleveland Orchestra. Other major works include the cantata Seven Last Words from the Cross (1993), Quickening (1998) for soloists, children's choir, mixed choir and orchestra, the operas Inès de Castro (2001) and The Sacrifice (2005-06), and St John Passion (2007). 

He was featured composer at Edinburgh Festival (1993), Southbank Centre (1997), BBC’s Barbican Composer Weekend (2005) and Grafenegg Festival (2012). His interpreters include soloists Evelyn Glennie, Colin Currie, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Vadim Repin, conductors Leonard Slatkin, Sir Andrew Davis, Marin Alsop and Donald Runnicles, and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon. His recordings can be found on BMG/RCA Red Seal, BIS, Chandos, Naxos, Hyperion, Coro, Linn and Challenge Classics. 2014 saw MacMillan launching a new music festival in his home town of Cumnock.

Recent highlights include premieres of MacMillan’s Woman of the Apocalypse, St Luke Passion, Little Mass and Percussion Concerto No.2. Future plans include a Requiem and a Stabat Mater, alongside works for leading international orchestras. 


2016 Cumnock Tryst Festival


Thursday 29 September at 7.30pm

The Barony A Frame

Cumnock Town Hall, 62 Glaisnock Street, KA18 1BY 

The 2016 Cumnock Tryst opens with a performance by artists in residence Headspace and Pandora’s Box with John Kenny and Clarence Adoo. Concert features the World Premiere of Scott Lygate’s The Barony A Frame inspired by the monumental structure from East Ayrshire’s mining past.

Tickets £16 (£10)


Thursday 29 September at 9.30pm

Festival Club - CAMPS

Dumfries Arms Hotel, 54 Glaisnock Street, KA18 1BY

Cumnock Area Musical Production Society treat the audience to a late night programme of choral and music theatre repertoire.



Friday 30 September at 12.30pm

The Bell Tree

Cumnock Academy, Ayr Road, Cumnock, KA18 1EH 

The culmination of a series of workshops with Drake Music Scotland, John Kenny and Clarence Adoo. Pupils from Hillside Primary and Cumnock Academy and adults from the Riverside Centre will present a special performance of music and image exploring the mysterious tale of Cumnock’s Bell Tree. 



Friday 30 September at 5pm 

The Cumnock Hour, Composers’ Forum

Dumfries Arms Hotel, 54 Glaisnock Street, KA18 1BY 

 Composers including Sir James MacMillan, Cecilia McDowall and Scott Lygate talk about what inspires them and about writing music in the 21st century. Chaired by music critic and broadcaster, Tom Service.



Friday 30 September at 7.30pm

Benedetti Elschenbroich Grynyuk Trio

Trinity Church, 46 Ayr Road, KA18 1DW 

Festival Patron, Nicola Benedetti returns with her trio to perform works by Ravel, Turnage and Brahms.
Tickets: Band A (front row seats) £40 (£30), Band B £27 (£17)
Supported by MacRoberts LLP


Friday 30 September at 9.30pm

Festival Club – Causeway Trio

Dumfries Arms Hotel, 54 Glaisnock Street, KA18 1BY 

The Causeway Trio showcase their unique blend of Scottish traditional, jazz, Brazilian and Eastern European music 



Saturday 1 October at 2pm

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland New Music Ensemble

Old Church, The Square, Cumnock, KA18 1DB

MusicLab, the RCS New Music Ensemble, perform works created by six young RCS musicians who worked with Sir James MacMillan on a special composition course.



Saturday 1 October at 4.30pm

Festival Chorus with Sir Willard White

Auchinleck Parish Church, Church Hill, Auchinleck, KA18 2AE 

The acclaimed Bass-Baritone Sir Willard White performs Aaron Copland’s American Songs (Book 1) and is soloist for the Scottish Premiere of Cecilia McDowall’s Stabat Mater. Eamonn Dougan conducts the Cumnock Festival Chorus, Genesis Sixteen, NYOS and the RSNO Junior Chorus.

£18 (£11) 

Supported by the Genesis Foundation 


Saturday 1 October at 7.30pm

Genesis Sixteen

 St John’s Church, 92 Glaisnock Street, KA18 1JU 

The talented young singers of Genesis Sixteen, the training choir for Harry Christopher’s acclaimed The Sixteen give a performance of music ranging from the Renaissance to the 21st century.

£16 (£10)

Supported by the Genesis Foundation 


Saturday 1 October at 9.30pm

Festival Club, Jackie Oates

Dumfries Arms Hotel, 54 Glaisnock Street, KA18 1BY 

Following the success of the performance by the Whistlebinkies in 2015, the 2016 Festival now showcases the talented folk singer Jackie Oates and her band.

£10 (£6)


Sunday 2 October at 2.30pm, 5.00pm & 7.30pm

Festival Finale Promenade Concert

Dumfries House, Cumnock, KA18 2NJ 

Music performed in the glorious setting of Dumfries House including Scott Lygate, Contrabass clarinet; John Kenny, carnyx; and Pandora’s Box, music for sackbut. 

Tickets £25 (£15) 2.30pm, 5pm and £50 (£40) 7.30pm, (includes post-concert champagne reception).