Digital Composers

Digital Composers is a new project for secondary schools from Edinburgh International Festival, designed to support the Higher and Advanced Higher music qualifications, and in particular the composition element of the qualification by connecting students with leading composers from across a variety of genres.

Developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and in consultation with music educators, this project seeks to enrich the learning experience of senior pupils by providing them with insights into the practise and experiences of working composers. Digital Composers also sees these professionals share inspirations and any advice they have for the students in creating their own compositions.

Join us as we chat to six extraordinary composers – Brett Dean, Cassie Kinoshi, Sir James MacMillan, Anna Meredith, Blair Mowat and Sally Beamish – about their careers, their passions, and their tips for how to go about composition new music.

If you have used our online resources with your classes, we would love to hear from you. Please share your details and feedback here.

Want a taster of what our composers have to offer? Why not check out our Digital Composer Highlights reel on YouTube where you will find a series of smaller compilation videos that give you a feel for the full interviews below.

Brett Dean

Australian composer Brett Dean has had his work performed all over the world, including at the Edinburgh International Festival. Skilled at composing both orchestral and chamber music, as well as having written his own operas, Brett shares some fascinating stories of how he became a composer, from his time making experimental music in a basement in Berlin through to composing for the renowned Berlin Philharmonic, and provides lots of tips and inspirations along the way.

Cassie Kinoshi

Cassie Kinoshi is a Mercury Music Prize nominated artist and composer whose work combines jazz and classical influences in a fresh and exciting way. Comfortable composing for an orchestra or for a piece of performance as she is for her jazz troupe the SEED Ensemble, Cassie is a true rising star and a fascinating musician. We chat to her about her wonderfully diverse career, her collaborative composition style, and why she is concerned about Chopin’s sadness.

Sir James MacMillan

We are honoured to interview Sir James MacMillan, one of Scotland’s leading modern day composers. Sir James is adored around the world, and has had his work performed at the International Festival many times over his career, including a special season to celebrate his 60th birthday in 2019. In this very special conversation, Sir James speaks about his early love for creating music (and even enjoying playing the recorder!), the techniques he chooses to use to compose his music, and his passion for music education.

Anna Meredith

We chat to Anna Meredith, multi-award-winning composer and musician who hails from Edinburgh and has a deep connection with the International Festival having composed the music to our spectacular 2018 Aberdeen Standard Investments Opening Event: Five Telegrams. Anna talks about how she discovered a career as a composer, how she starts out creating new compositions, and shares stories from some of the fantastic works she has created over the last few years.

Blair Mowat

Blair Mowat is a composer and music arranger for film, television and theatre and has worked on a variety of projects including David Attenborough’s Life Stories, ITV’s crime drama McDonald & Dodds and the Doctor Who spin off Class. We spoke to him about how he carved out his career in composition for the screen, how he goes about creating new music, and his exploration of unusual instruments.

Sally Beamish

We are thrilled to interview Sally Beamish OBE who has a vast career of composing music for symphony orchestra, chamber orchestra and ballet. Originally a viola player, Sally’s composition career took off when she moved to Scotland in the 1990s, and her work has multiple influences including a strong connection to Scottish traditional music. Sally shares how she came to be a composer, talks about the inspirations for her work, and provides some fantastic tips on how to manage your time when creating new music.

Lucy Drever Headshot

Meet Our Host

Lucy Drever is a workshop leader and presenter. She works with various arts organisations including the BBC, the Philharmonia Orchestra, Lambert Jackson Productions and the Wigmore Hall. She recently became Associate Artist at the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the Head of Musicianship at the Benedetti Foundation.