The Scottish composer Rory Boyle received his earliest musical training as a chorister at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor. He went on to study composition (with Frank Spedding), piano, clarinet, organ and conducting at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland), following which he continued his studies with Lennox Berkeley in London. Whilst still a student he won the BBC Scottish Composer’s Prize with his first orchestral score. Further important awards followed including 2 Royal Philharmonic Prizes and the Zaiks Prize in the International Competition set up in memory of Kazimierz Serocki, one of the leading figures in the Polish avant garde.
In 2006 he won a Creative Scotland Award to write an opera on the nineteenth century German feral child Kaspar Hauser with a libretto by the Edinburgh based poet and writer Dilys Rose. The opera, Kaspar Hauser, Child of Europe, was performed in Scotland and Germany to critical acclaim and won for Boyle a British Composer Award in the stage work category in 2010 with the Jury citation describing the work as “a very accomplished score; a powerful and disturbing story told with theatrical flair, dramatic pacing and excellent characterisation.”. Five years later he won a second British Composer Award for his brass band score Muckle Flugga (commissioned as the test piece for the 2014 European Brass Band Championships), and he has received two further nominations in these annual awards: Elegy For the Black Bitch for brass quintet in 2005, and Burble for solo clarinet in 2012.
His list of works covers most genres and he has written for many leading performers including The BBC Singers (Songs From the Marshes), Evelyn Glennie (Marimba Concerto), Nicholas Daniel (Oboe Concerto, ‘Sorella’), Karen Cargill (Watching Over You), Michael Chance (Lord Lundy), David Hubbard (Bassoon Concerto, ‘That Blessed Wood’), Olga Kern (Six T(ok)ens), Garth Knox (Et Voila), Mark O’Keeffe (Ceremony After a Fire Raid), The Edinburgh Quartet (Quartetto da Requiem), The Fine Arts Brass Quintet (Giochi di Sospiri), and the Schubert Ensemble (Phaethon’s Dancing lesson).
He has also worked closely with several new generation artistes including the remarkably talented young pianist James Willshire who recorded a CD of Boyle’s piano music on the Delphian label which was released to critical acclaim in 2011, and the brilliant virtuoso clarinettist Fraser Langton whose CD of Boyle’s clarinet music spanning some 40 years was released early in 2017 (again on the Delphian label), with Gramophone magazine reviewing the music as being “of high organisation, clarity and expressive power”.
His work in the educational sphere includes 4 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, Amsterdam, and the London Proms. The conductor, Nicholas Cleobury wrote in the Proms programme that “while Boyle’s Scottish roots are never far away, his music has a strong mainstream European 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".
In October 2018 the Edinburgh Quartet gave the premiere of his 2nd String Quartet (Quartetto da Requiem) commissioned for that year’s Cumnock Tryst and in November of the same year his 3rd Piano Trio Three Faces in the Crowd was premiered by the Rembrandt Piano Trio in Glasgow. He has written the music for 2 documentary films by Murray Grigor (Ever To Excel and Beatus, The Spanish Apocalypse) and also conducted a live performance of Frank Spedding’s score for the double screening of Grigor’s Space And Light Revisited. He lives in Ayrshire and was, until retiring in 2017, a Professor of Composition at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.