Rory Boyle

b. 1951

Rory Boyle was born in Ayr and received his earliest musical education as a chorister at St George’s Chapel, Windsor. He studied composition with Dr Frank Spedding at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, as well as piano, clarinet, organ and conducting. A Sir James Caird Travelling Scholarship enabled him to continue his studies with Lennox Berkeley in London.

While he was still a student at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama he won the BBC Scottish Composers’ Prize (1971) with his first orchestral score Variations On A Theme Of Orlando Gibbons. Further important awards followed including Royal Philharmonic Prizes for both his Symphony In One Movement (1973) and Clarinet Concerto (1975), as well as the Zaiks Prize in the International Competition set up in memory of Kazimierz Serocki – one of the leading figures in the Polish avant garde – for his orchestral score Winter Music which was premièred in Poland in 1987.

Boyle’s list of works covers most genres and he has received commissions from many societies and festivals including the Cheltenham, Greenwich, Latvian, St Albans and Three Choirs Music Festivals. He has also written for leading performers, most notably Evelyn Glennie (Marimba Concerto), Fine Arts Brass (Giochi di Sospiri and Elegy For The Black Bitch – nominated for a British Composers Award in 2005), Michael Chance (Lord Lundy), Nicholas Daniel (Sorella and Four Ways To Play Reels), Mark O’Keeffe (Ceremony After A Fire Raid recorded on Delphian DCD34049) and David Hubbard (That Blessed Wood). He has collaborated with several writers including Vikram Seth (8 Beastly Tales), Richard Stilgoe (Mine Host), and Dilys Rose (Kaspar Hauser and The Fires Of Bride).

Rory is passionate about music education; he has written four operas for children, and in 1998 The National Youth Orchestra of Scotland’s tour programme included his Capriccio which was performed at venues including the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the BBC Proms. In the Proms programme the conductor Nicholas Cleobury wrote: ‘While Boyle’s Scottish roots are never far away, his music has a strong, mainstream European, Stravinsky-based rigour, with its own brand of virile, challenging, but always comprehensible counterpoint, dissonance which is hard-fought yet never gratuitous, an unsentimental lyricism and unerring sense of architecture.’ In 2002 he was appointed Composer Laureate for Schools with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in partnership with the City of Edinburgh. This three-year post (the first of its kind in the UK) included commissions for three new works as well as facilitating city-wide workshops for pupils and a professional development programme for teachers. In 2006 Boyle won a Creative Scotland Award that enabled him to write an opera with a libretto by the writer and poet Dilys Rose on the subject of the nineteenth century feral child, Kaspar Hauser. The opera (Kaspar Hauser, Child Of Europe) was performed to critical acclaim by the RSAMD in March 2010 and, later that year, won Boyle a British Composers Award in the Stage Works category at the annual BASCA ceremony in London.

His music is performed and broadcast widely both in Britain and abroad and he now lives in Ayrshire and divides his time between composing and teaching at the RSAMD, where he is a tutor in Composition and in Creative and Contextual Studies.