Rory Boyle is a Scottish composer and Lecturer in Composition at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
Born in Ayr, Rory Boyle 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 Composer’s Prize 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 and Clarinet Concerto, 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. This work was premiered in Poland in 1987 by the Cracow Symphony Orchestra. In 2000, his Lament for Violin and Piano won the critics’ prize at the first UK and Eire Composition Platform held in the Purcell Room.
His list of works, covering most genres from symphonies to incidental music for television, demonstrates considerable versatility, and he has received commissions from many societies, festivals, and organizations, 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), the Bochmann Quartet (Symmetric Dancers), Michael Chance (Lord Lundy) and Nicholas Daniel (Four Ways to Play Reels). He has collaborated with several writers including Richard Stilgoe (Mine Host) and Vikram Seth (8 Beastly Tales), whilst Stilgoe has been the narrator in several performances of Boyle’s burlesque setting of Roald Dahl’s Cinderella.
He has not neglected the educational sphere, including writing four operas for children (Augustine, Alfege, Sunstrike, and The Ghost of Hamish Prong), and several of his works have been used for education projects including Medicine Music and Night Pictures. In 1998, the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland’s tour programme included Boyle’s Capriccio which was performed at venues including the Concertgebauw, 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 his 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. He chose his teachers well: Spedding encouraged his individual voice: Berkeley reduced wastage and honed his orchestration.
Boyle’s music is performed and broadcast widely both in Britain and abroad, and several works have been recorded on CD, including the piano pieces Moduli played by Peter Seivewright (who also premiered Boyle’s Piano Concerto), Lament, Capriccio, Campani in Aria, and Cinderella.
He lives in South Ayrshire.