Rory Boyle

Scottish Music Centre

Rory Boyle (b. 1951) - Full biography

Rory Boyle

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 Caird Travelling Scholarship enabled him to continue his studies with Lennox Berkeley in London.

Whilst he was still a student at the RSAMD 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.

His list of works covers most genres and he has received commissions from many societies, festivals and organisations including the Cheltenham, Three Choirs', St. Albans, Greenwich and Latvian Contemporary Music Festivals. He has also written for leading performers, most notably Evelyn Glennie (Marimba Concerto), The Fine Arts Brass Quintet (Giochi di Sospiri and Elegy For The Black Bitch {nominated for a British Composer Award in 2005}), Michael Chance (Lord Lundy), Nicholas Daniel (Sorella and Four Ways To Play Reels), Mark O'Keeffe (Ceremony After A Fire Raid) 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).

He has not neglected the educational sphere, including writing four operas for children. In 1998 The National Youth Orchestra of Scotland's tour programme included his Capriccio which was performed at venues including the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam and the London 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 3 year post (the first of its kind in the UK and probably in Europe) included commissions for three new works as well as providing city-wide workshops for pupils and a professional development programme for teachers.

In 2006 he won a Creative Scotland Award to enable him to write an opera with a libretto by the writer and poet Dilys Rose on the subject of the 19th 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 in that year, won for Boyle a British Composer Award in the Stage Works category at the annual BASCA ceremony in London.

In 2011 a CD of his piano music was released on the Delphian label played by the dynamic young pianist James Willshire.

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

Boyle shows a distinctive voice and fluent imagination. Financial Times.

A very accomplished score: a powerful and disturbing story told with theatrical flair, dramatic pacing and excellent characterisation. The music flows in an uninhibited and unselfconscious stream. Jury citation, British Composer Awards.

It's an amazing concerto, a huge piece packed to the rafters and the basement with action, incident and atmosphere. The Glasgow Herald.