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Young composers sought to create choral works inspired by Hawick medieval manuscript

21 November 2012

Young composers are being sought to submit choral works inspired by the Hawick Missal Fragment for the Fragments Composition Prize.

The competition will be announced today, Wednesday 21st November, before what is believed to be the first performance in at least 450 years of the music which was discovered in the document now known as the Hawick Missal Fragment.  

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs said: “This is a great opportunity for a young composer to draw inspiration from the Hawick Missal Fragment and mark the importance of the Scottish Borders’ historic culture.

“To see the music performed in the setting of one of the abbeys will be a wonderful experience for locals and international visitors to the area.”.  

This 12th-century medieval manuscript would have been part of a missal – a book which contained the texts and chants for a Mass.  As a surviving witness to the worship of the medieval Church the fragment is already helping us to better understand how Mass would have been celebrated in the Border Abbeys.

This will be the first event in a two year music and arts project, unique to Hawick and the Scottish Borders, called Fragments. The project is a partnership between Historic Scotland and Scottish Borders Council’s Archive Service supported with funding from Creative Scotland as part of the Year of Creative Scotland.

Dr Matthew Cheung Salisbury , lecturer in music at University College, Oxford University,  said: “The Hawick missal fragment is a valuable witness of medieval life, but it also speaks to us today. This competition aims to revive the fragment’s original inspiration, by exploring the very simple but compelling idea of the expression of the divine in the 21st century.”

Submissions should reflect or explore some aspect of the Fragments Project, which aims to help participants create new work on the theme of art and music as representations of the divine.

The value of the prize is £500 and three performances will be given as part of the Project’s programme. The Prize will be awarded at one of these performances.

David Taylor, Portfolio Manager for Creative Scotland, said: ‘The Year of Creative Scotland is a chance for us to celebrate and promote Scotland’s cultural and creative strengths at home and on a world stage. We are pleased to support this project in partnership with Historic Scotland. Fragments will create a community wider celebration of the Hawick Missal through music and art, attracting both local and international visitors to the area, in this the Year of Creative Scotland 2012.’’

Councillor Vicky Davidson, Executive Member for Culture, Sport and Community Learning, Scottish Borders Council said: “The discovery of a fragment of music in the Hawick Missal was a remarkable find - an echo of our medieval past.

“This competition will give a young composer the chance to re-imagine that music for a contemporary audience. We are delighted to be involved in this project - in both the fascinating revival of the original piece and the exciting opportunity to create a new composition from this 900 year old fragment.”

Click here to download the competition particulars.

This project is being supported by Creative Scotland’s Year of Creative Scotland Culture & Tourism programme.  Over £1.7 million has been invested in forty-two innovative collaborations between the tourism and culture sectors to promote Scotland’s creativity on a global platform and raise the country’s profile as a tourist destination.

For more information on the project, please visit

Images from today’s announcement will be available from photographer Gareth Easton. These can be obtained by contacting the number below.

Notes for editors:

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with ensuring that our historic environment provides a strong foundation for a successful future for Scotland. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.

  • Creative Scotland is the country’s national development agency for the arts, screen and creative industries.  In 2012-13 we will invest more than £80 million in Scotland’s creative future and its vision is that Scotland is recognised as a leading creative nation – one that attracts, develops and retains talent, where the arts and creative industries are supported and celebrated and their economic contribution fully captured, an nation where the arts and creativity play a central part in the live education and well-being of our population.

  • The Year of Creative Scotland began on January 1, 2012 and will spotlight and celebrate Scotland’s cultural and creative strengths on a world stage. Through a dynamic and exciting year-long programme of activity celebrating our world-class events, festivals, culture and heritage, the year puts Scotland’s culture and creativity in the international spotlight with a focus on cultural tourism and developing the events industry and creative sector in Scotland. More information about the programme can be found at:

  • The Year of Creative Scotland is a Scottish Government initiative led in partnership by EventScotland, VisitScotland, Creative Scotland and VOCAL. More information and resources to help businesses engage with Year of Creative Scotland are available at

                                               Year of Creative Scotland 2012

For further information

Jennifer Johnston-Watt
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8070 or 07827 956 866