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Young Composer wins competition for new music inspired by Hawick Missal Fragment

30 May 2013

An exciting opportunity to hear new music from a multi-award-winning young composer, inspired by the 12th century medieval manuscript, the Hawick Missal Fragment, will be taking place in the Borders on 20th July in Jedburgh.

Tickets have now gone on sale for the first in a trilogy of unique and highly distinctive events, featuring music, imagery, light, colour and sweeping soundscapes.  

Sean Doherty, 26, a composer and lecturer in counterpoint and Baroque music history at Trinity College Dublin, has won a prestigious competition for young composers aged 35 and under to compose a piece of music inspired by the recent discovery of the Hawick Missal Fragment.

Sean, who read music at St John’s College, Cambridge, will receive a prize of £500.  His  music will be performed on 20th July 2013 at Jedburgh Old and Trinity Church and Jedburgh Abbey.

The first part of the event will be in a concert format and features the original music from the fragment as well as the performance of the winner’s composition.  Video, imagery and sound will also be part of the performance. The event will then move to Jedburgh Abbey where the audience will experience art installations set against a musical background devised by Fragments Artistic Director, Tim Fitzpatrick of The Red Field.

The Hawick Missal Fragment would have been part of a missal – a book which contained the texts and chants for a Mass.  It was discovered in 2009 in an uncatalogued collection of family and solicitors’ papers by Rachel Hosker and her staff at the the Heritage Hub in  Hawick. The competition was announced last year  before what is believed to have been the first performance in at least 450 years of the music.

Dr Matthew Cheung Salisbury , Fragments Director of Music said: ‘I am delighted to welcome Sean Doherty to the Fragments Project: his composition Fragment: Et clamabant (Latin for And they cried out…) will be the first musical response to the objective of our project: to explore the idea of the expression of the divine in the 21st century.

“In an excellent field of entries, Sean’s composition stands out because of his attention to the concept of the Fragments project, his innovative and striking employment of text and music from the fragment, and his use of a sympathetic compositional style which echoes our missal fragment’s origins. ‘Fragments of Blue’ will transform the historic spaces in Jedburgh.”

Sean Doherty said: “I remember the excitement generated by the discovery of the Hawick missal fragment in 2010, so I was pleased by news of its celebration with a composition competition.

“The chant in the Hawick missal fragment is, itself, a fragment: this tiny melodic cell, ‘et clamabant’, consisting of two pairs of notes, is used to construct the entire piece: with repetition, this cell is woven into an elaborate tapestry of melody, like the repeated motifs in the stonework at Jedburgh.”

Iain Munro, Acting CEO for Creative Scotland  said:  “Many congratulations to Sean on winning the competition. The Fragments project demonstrates the artistic quality and range of creativity on offer to visitors to this country.”  

Tickets for Fragments of Blue – under one sky, can be purchased online

For information:

This is a partnership between Historic Scotland and Scottish Borders Council’s Archive Service supported with funding from Creative Scotland.

This project is being supported by Creative Scotland’s 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

Sean Doherty Biography:

Sean Doherty (b. 1987) played the fiddle music of his native Derry, Northern Ireland, before reading music at St John's College, University of Cambridge, and completing his PhD at Trinity College, University of Dublin, where he now lectures in counterpoint and Baroque music history.

His research interests focus on seventeenth-century music theory, and, in particular, that of the Irish theorist William Bathe (1564–1614).

His compositions have garnered many awards, including the Jerome Hynes composition competition, the Feis Ceoil choral composition competition, the St Giles' Cathedral composition competition, the Choir and Organ Magazine composition competition, and the West Cork Chamber Music Festival Young Composers' Bursary.

In 2012 he was commissioned, by the Legacy Trust UK for the Cultural Olympiad, to write his first opera with the author Carlo Gebler.

In 2013 he was commissioned, by the Culture Company for Derry/Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013, to write a second opera with the same librettist. His choral piece based on texts attributed to St Colmcille, commissioned by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, will be premiered later this year by the chamber choir Codetta. He is a member of the Irish Composers' Collective, the Association of Irish Composers, and is represented by the Contemporary Music Centre, Ireland.

For more information, please visit:

Notes for editors:

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. 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.

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For further information

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