photo by Ken Dundas
The Old Bean
Rory Boyle is a Scottish composer whose work has been extensively performed worldwide. He has, however, never taken himself too seriously which is fortunate because none of his family has either. Following the premiere of Rory’s Organ Toccata during the 1977 Three Choir’s Festival in Gloucester, a member of the public, holding the souvenir programme which contained a photograph of all the commissioned composers for that year, approached Rory, who was standing talking to his family, and said “you are the person in this photograph, aren’t you? Let me gaze upon your greatness”. Rory’s entire family entourage all fell about on the steps of Gloucester Cathedral.
A self-proclaimed “old bean” since he was a student at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, Rory’s youthful humour has continued to carry over into his work and life as a musician.
He can claim to have beaten Steve Reich by a year in having written a piece of clapping music, since his Prelude and Fugue for Clapping Quartet was premiered in 1971 while he was a student. Since copying machines in those days were rather basic with back-to-back printing being impossible and, since the clappers were unable to turn the pages themselves, each performer had a score consisting of a number of single sheets and were partnered by a female student acting as page-turner who threw each completed page from the stands into the audience, thus making the performance a piece of absurd music- theatre. Unfortunately, the claim to have been ahead of Reich in this innovative genre cannot be proven since the score was destroyed after this notable premiere. If only…….
Rory’s setting of Roald Dahl’s Cinderella for narrator, wind quintet and piano has been delighting concert goers of all ages for nearly 20 years. Being funny in music is not an easy thing to achieve but the reviewer in the BBC Music Magazine wrote “Rory Boyle’s musical treatment of Cinderella, seemingly impossibly, manages to make a hilarious poem even funnier.”
During his time as a Professor of Composition at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Rory was cajoled into accepting the challenge of learning to play the oboe competently enough in 3 weeks to play the 3rd oboe part in a performance of Three Little Maids from School for oboe trio. He was only told a few days before the performance that he was also required to be in drag to do this. His disguise was obviously successful since hardly anyone in the audience recognised him…or her.
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