Tryst’s “Kaleidoscope” project shortlisted for major award

  • Project shortlisted for the RCS Award for Education/Community Project of the Year in the Scottish New Music Awards.
  • Sir James MacMillan shortlisted nations in 3 further award categories

Images: Kaleidoscope at the 2017 Cumnock Tryst - Sir James MacMillan conducts string players from Greenmill Primary, young musicians from Barshare Primary, senior school pupils from Auchinleck Academy, adults from the Riverside Centre.

 Kaleidoscope, a project bringing schools and community groups together with professional musicians at the 2017 Cumnock Tryst, has been shortlisted for a major award it was announced today, 23 January 2018. The project had been nominated for the RCS Award for Education/Community Project of the Year in the Scottish New Music Awards. It has beaten off competition from over 200 nominations to make the shortlists.

For the last three years the Cumnock Tryst festival has partnered with Drake Music Scotland, a leader in educational work with people with disabilities ensuring that they can participate fully. Each year the collaboration has culminated in a performance on the Friday lunchtime during the festival.

In 2017 the collaboration was taken to a new level in a unique event - a four movement work, Kaleidoscope, which for the first time brought together pupils from three schools in East Ayrshire – Greenmill Primary, Auchinleck Academy and Barshare Primary/Hillside school - and adults from the Riverside Centre, each of whom contributed one movement to this specially created “symphony”. The development process saw the amateur performers having the rare opportunity to work with members of the renowned Scottish Ensemble and acclaimed percussion soloist, Colin Currie, all of whom also took to the stage with them for the performance.

“We are delighted that Kaleidoscope has been shortlisted for this prestigious award,” says Sir James MacMillan, Artistic Director of the Cumnock Tryst Festival. “The participation of local school and community groups is central to the Cumnock Tryst, and our Friday lunchtime concert in particular is always a very special event. Indeed it has become the emotional heart of the Tryst.”

 “Through our partnership with Drake Music Scotland we have been supporting young people and adults with special needs to find their own musical voice and articulate it. The projects have explored music of quite complicated dimensions and it is wonderful to see these participants playing at the top of their game alongside professional musicians.”

 “We are delighted that ‘Kaleidoscope’ has been nominated for a New Music Scotland award,” says Thursa Sanderson, CEO of Drake Music Scotland. “This suite of pieces performed at Sir James MacMillan’s Cumnock Tryst Festival last September was the result of improvisation and composition workshops with the composer and Drake Music Scotland Associate Musician Matilda Brown at schools including Hillside special school, Barshare Primary and the Riverside Centre for adults with learning disabilities.  It shows how disabled young people and adults can develop their creativity, perform alongside their peers from other schools and share a platform with top class artists such as Colin Currie and Scottish Ensemble. To help develop this strand of the Festival showing the pinnacle of high quality inclusive music education has been a pure joy.”

"Kaleidoscope was billed as the 'emotional highlight' of the Tryst festival, and having now had the pleasure of working with Sir James McMillan and Drake Music Scotland on the project, we can easily see why,” says Fraser Anderson, Chief Executive of Scottish Ensemble. We were moved by the creativity and enthusiasm on show from all participants, as well as how they worked together – the final ‘symphony’ we performed was a real team effort from a group of people cooperating across a range of ages, backgrounds, abilities and needs, and a deep experience for the Scottish Ensemble musicians. We're very happy that this inventive, imaginative learning project has been nominated." 

Speaking after the Kaleidoscope concert Greenmill Primary Head Teacher, Simon Leitch said:

  “We have the Strings Project that is on-going within Greenmill and I think working with these acclaimed musicians and composers is fantastic for them. I think bringing everyone together with the different schools and different needs of different musicians is fantastic so I think the collaboration is great.”

Head Teacher of Hillside School, Debbie Skeogh, said of their participation in the Tryst:

“Our young people learn so many skills. The obvious musical skills they develop but also their ability to communicate with others and to express themselves in a way they don’t get the opportunity to do.

“The main thing for me is just the sense of community that this creates and that our young people are involved in that and have the opportunity to just be part of something that a really busy audience gets to see just exactly what they are capable of and that’s the most important thing for us.”

Sir James MacMillan was been nominated in three further award categories. His critically acclaimed setting of the Stabat Mater has been shortlisted in the Large Scale New Work (sponsored by PRS for Music) category and the recording of the work by The Sixteen and Britten Sinfonia is shortlisted for the EVM Award for New Music Recording of the Year. Meanwhile, Sir James is nominated for the RCS Award for Contribution to New Music in Scotland during 2017.

A panel, comprising esteemed members of the music world, deliberated over the 200 nominations across the 11 categories Award categories.  As well as the overall strength and wide variety of the submissions, the panel praised the continually high standard of music making and innovative approaches taken by composers, ensembles, organisations and artists.

Panellist David Pickard, Director of the BBC Proms, commented, “I was very impressed by the range of contemporary music that is happening here in Scotland.  The Awards were really hard to judge - there was such a fantastic set of entries and a huge range of music.”

The winners will be announced at an event on Wednesday 7th March at the Drygate Brewery in Glasgow, which will be hosted by music writer and broadcaster Kate Molleson. 

For full information on the New Music Scotland Awards visit:


Issued on behalf of the Cumnock Tryst Festival. For further information, images and interviews contact:

Lesley Booth, 07799414474 /