Following Sir James MacMillan’s appearance at the Boswell Book Festival earlier this year, James Knox took on the Cumnock Tryst for the Cumnock Hour.

Knox, chairman of the book festival, was in conversation with Paul MacAlindin in the first of the festivals’ collaborations at the Tryst.

Scottish conductor MacAlindin was the perfect subject for the book festival’s event at the Tryst having written Upbeat: The Story of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq.

He is the former musical director of the youth orchestra which had a turbulent time in the war-torn country.

Knox explained why the festivals teamed up and why MacAlindin was the perfect first guest.

He said: “What we have done with the Cumnock Tryst is create an affiliation, we’re like brothers and sisters.

“One year we have an event at the Boswell Book Festival, which takes place at Dumfries House, which is curated by the Tryst and one year we have an event at the Tryst which is curated by us.

“We wanted him [Paul MacAlindin] as our subject because his life story as the conductor and promoter and inventor and leader of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq is a tale of incredible adventure and achievement.

“I think it’s absolutely vital [that our festivals partner up], because we are few and far between in the South West of Scotland, really great arts festivals “It’s a lonely business producing an arts festival and getting artists and writers and musicians and singers from all over the world to come and appear at our festivals.

“Because we’re alone, it’s very hard to get people because it’s so much easier for a great artist or a great writer not to travel north and come to this lovely bit of the world.

“Yet, when they do come, they are blown away by the warmth of the audiences “Because people up here are so receptive to really great ideas, great thoughts and great stories but it’s a much warmer audience and enthusiastic audience than you might get anywhere else.”