The Cumnock Tryst appoints Festival Director

Jean Nicholson joins The Cumnock Tryst as Festival Director

Jean Nicholson joins The Cumnock Tryst as Festival Director

Jean Nicholson has been appointed Festival Director of the Cumnock Tryst it was announced today, 15 January 2018. An arts administrator with 25 years experience in opera and theatre management, Ms Nicholson will work in partnership with Sir James MacMillan to develop the festival which this year marks its 5th anniversary.


Established in 2014 by Sir James MacMillan in his home town of Cumnock, the Tryst has already become a highlight of the UK’s music calendar. The festival takes place each October in and around the East Ayrshire town and is celebrated for its combination of performances by internationally acclaimed musicians and contributions from local groups. The appointment of a Festival Director is a key element in a strategy to create a year-round programme for the Tryst particularly developing its education and outreach work.

Announcing the appointment  on behalf of the Board of the Cumnock Tryst, Lynne MacMillan, , said:

 “The Cumnock Tryst festival reaches its 5th anniversary in 2018 and we have been delighted by the success to date. We are now working to build on this success, and in particular to develop our award- winning education and community work.

 “We are delighted to welcome Jean Nicholson as our Festival Director. Jean’s extensive experience in arts management ranges from work with organisations such as the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and Birmingham Opera to the Hackney Empire, a theatre which is at the heart of the local community.”

 Sir James MacMillan, Artistic Director of The Tryst, said “I’m very much looking forward to working with Jean in the development of our ideas.  Jean’s wealth of experience will bring a new perspective to the work that we do in and around Cumnock.  .”

"I am so looking forward to working alongside Sir James MacMillan and the wonderful team at the Cumnock Tryst,” says Jean Nicholson. “The future plans for The Cumnock Tryst are hugely exciting and I’m looking forward to playing my part in bringing them to fruition.”

The 5th Cumnock Tryst Festival will take place between 4 and 7 October 2018.


For further information and interviews contact

Lesley Booth, 07799414474 /


Notes for Editors

  • Jean Nicholson has an extensive career in music and theatre spanning 25 years. She has worked for a broad range of organisations from the Royal Opera House, Hackney Empire, Opera & Music Theatre Forum and London Sinfonietta. She has a particular interest in broadening the base of audiences and performers making classical music more widely available and accessible.

From 2000 to 2013 she worked with opera director, Graham Vick, at Birmingham Opera Company establishing a radical style of production embedding the company in the local community and presenting work in unusual spaces. Birmingham Opera Company has a notable reputation for recruiting singers from diverse backgrounds and developing careers both in the UK and internationally. Most recently she has been working with the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme to help design a programme to attract a wider base of artists.

  •  The Cumnock Tryst’s contribution to the local community was recognised in the 2017 Arts & Business Awards. The Tryst’s and MacRoberts LLP won the Placemaking Award, which recognises how a partnership has strategically shaped the cultural activities in a geographical area.