ONE of the highlights of the 2017 Cumnock Tryst took place at Cumnock Academy on Friday lunchtime.

Kaleidoscope, an annual Tryst project, allows adults and young people to express themselves with the help of experienced musicians and composers.

The project works in collaboration with Drake Music Scotland, Barshare Primary School and Supported Learning Centre, Hillside School and the Riverside Centre to give disabled people opportunities to be part of the festival alongside Auchinleck Academy, Greenmill Primary, Sir James MacMillan, Colin Currie, Matilda Brown and Scottish Ensemble.

Following a series of educational workshops led by Matilda Brown and Sir James MacMillan, the project allowed the groups to present the ideas and compositions they had worked on in a four movement symphony alongside a video display to show the audience the close workings of Drake Music Scotland.

Ahead of the event, Cumnock Tryst artistic director Sir James MacMillan said: “This is the second day of the Cumnock Tryst and this is a big collaborative project that we run every year. We work with Drake Music Scotland who are a phenomenal organisation working with children and adults with special needs.

“They have been working with Hillside School, the Riverside Centre and Barshare Primary but we’re also working with Greenmill Primary and Auchinleck Academy and they’ve made their own music. All these young people have made their own music.

“We hope it enhances the participants lives and we hope that the relatives, parents and friends of all the participants – special needs and everybody else – will see the beauty of this and see how happy our young players are when they perform.”

Head teacher at Hillside School Debbie Skeoch added: “Our young people learn so many skills. The obvious musical skills they develop but also their ability to communicate with others and to express themselves in a way they don’t get the opportunity to do.

“The main thing for me is just the sense of community that this creates and that our young people are involved in that and have the opportunity to just be past of something that a really busy audience gets to see just exactly what they are capable of and that’s the most important thing for us.

“I think the ability to express themselves and be valued and to develop that sense of self esteem that they are important and they have created this amazing thing together with our friends, with the support that they needed so they’ve been included entirely in this at their level and the ability to show that to world and to show what they are capable of is just fantastic.”

This was the first year that Greenmill Primary had been involved and head teacher Simon Leitch felt it was a great experience for the pupils.

He said: “We have the Strings Project that is ongoing within Greenmill and I think working with these acclaimed musicians and composers is fantastic for them. I think bringing everyone together with the different schools and different needs of different musicians is fantastic so I think the collaboration is great.

“It gives the kids the chance to perform and the confidence they get is fantastic. From inception right through to the performance and seeing something they’ve started and now finish with is fantastic.”

The project has also received the seal of approval from East Ayrshire Council with strategic education manager John Wilson adding: “The performance has been building now for the past four years and it’s just absolutely incredible to watch the young people’s participation in such a creative way.

“It’s an absolutely magnificent achievement for everybody involved and it’s thanks to Sir James MacMillan and his team that have brought this to the young people of Hillside School and the other local schools within the Cumnock area.

“The council has got a very strong support in supporting creative projects, particularly music projects across all our communities and particularly, looking at this one, to grow the Tryst within the Cumnock area.”