ANOTHER successful Cumnock Tryst has provided the headline writers with the perfect wording — it was bigger and better than before.

From the enthusiastic musicians representing our schools, to accomplished composer Jay Capperauld from New Cumnock, there was substantial local interest. There was also the return of Dalmellington Band complete with renowned conductor Martyn Brabbins and the amazing story of Michael Murray.

Michael from Auchinleck, a night watchman at an Ayr shopping centre, had two of his works premiered at St John’s Church in a performance which also included the Westminster Cathedral Choir.

It was conducted by Sir James MacMillan who was back in his home town as the man who takes much of the credit for the Tryst becoming firmly established in the music calendar.

Other guest performers included violinist extraordinaire Ian Peaston, also from Cumnock, and the Wallace Collection from Fife.

There were also several events staged to tie in with the 300th anniversary of Dumfries Arms Hotel, a long-time supporter and regular venue of the festival.

Sir James said: “Many have said to me that they think this year’s festival has been the best yet, which is worrying — we’ve got to top it next year.

“The events were fuller than ever before, showing that the festival has developed its reach, both in the wider world, but also with the people of Cumnock and the surrounding area who have taken us to their hearts.

“It has become a labour of love for Lynne and I, and we are already looking forward to next year, the fifth Cumnock Tryst.”