Michael Murray is a man with a dual role. He may not don a cape and have a secret identity, but while by night he is a warden for the Ayr central shopping centre, at other times he is a classical composer. In 2019, he composed an oboe solo entitled Psycho–Scherzo thatwill be performed as part of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s (RSNO) 2021 Chamber Series that goes under the name of Scotch Snaps.
Throughout the pandemic, the RSNO has been presenting work in new ways for their international audiences and Scotch Snaps is an online Chamber Music series celebrating five living Scottish composers.
Michael Murray has been composing since he was just nine years old after getting a present of a guitar. After taking part in a masterclass at Cumnock Academy when he was fifteen, he came to the attention of The Cumnock Tryst’s founder and award-winning composer Sir James MacMillan. Since then, James has kept a keen eye on Michael and his music and included his work in the Cumnock Tryst festival line up in 2017 and 2019.
Sir James MacMillan said “Myself and the whole Cumnock Tryst team are absolutely delighted for Michael and we can’t wait to tune in to Psycho-Scherzo when it is performed by the RSNO on the 23 April as part of their 2021 digital programme.
….this is a tough time for musicians, for everyone in the arts, but hopefully there is light at the end of the tunnel and I for one cannot wait to hear Michael’s pieces once again performed live.”
Michael Murray himself said, “I was both shocked and delighted when I heard that the RSNO would perform Psycho-Scherzo as one of their Scotch Snaps, and as part of this season’s Chamber Music Series in April this year. After all the disappointment caused by the pandemic, the cancellation of live events and in particular The Cumnock Tryst, it felt like a sign that things were looking up.
I have noticed during lockdown that more people have been buying my work online, which is perhaps partly due to performers having time to explore what’s out there, and potentially add to their existing repertoires. So, for me at least, there has been a sliver of silver lining, although like everyone else, I can’t wait for things to return to some sort of normality and to be able to go and enjoy live music together again in the same space.”
We Scots have had an unfortunate reputation of saying “A kent his faither” as a bit of a put down to someone who has gained success from their community and keeping them in their place. With the hope that such old attitudes are disappearing, it’s good to see Michael Murray being so celebrated by his ain folk. Psycho-Scherzo will be performed on 23 April this year as part of the RSNO digital programme.