Renowned Scottish composer returns to Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

He’s one of the world’s most successful composers having scored music for more than 60 major films, from Harry Potter to Murder on the Orient Express.

But now Patrick Doyle has returned to his Royal Conservatoire of Scotland roots to inspire the next generation of musicians, becoming Patron of the Junior Conservatoire of Music.

It’s a full circle moment for the renowned composer who credits his career to Scotland’s national conservatoire where he took classes as a child.

Patrick said the Junior Conservatoire studies opened his eyes to the wider world of music.

As a youngster he would hop on the bus from Birkenshaw in North Lanarkshire to Glasgow every Saturday to take classes, setting him on an incredible musical journey.

Patrick has enjoyed a stellar 50-year career in film, television and theatre penning the soundtracks for more than 60 box office hits, including Brave, Thor, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Donnie Brasco, Carlito’s Way, Gosford Park and Sense and Sensibility.

Credit: Robbie McFadzean

‘I became a member of the Juniors course in my late teens, Patrick said. ‘It was one of the most inspiring and exciting experiences of my life.

‘I jumped out of bed every Saturday morning full of joy.

‘I met young like-minded people from all over Scotland, and the social and musical bonds which were forged between us have been the foundation of my life in music and the arts.

‘I will forever be indebted to the former RSAMD, now the RCS, for the opportunities it afforded me and the fond memories it continually conjures up.

‘I am honoured to be asked to be a Patron.’

Music has been a defining part of Patrick’s life, from his early days playing with Lanarkshire Youth Orchestra and his school’s brass band.

He passionately believes that early exposure to the power of music, and the arts in general, is vital.

‘My piano teacher, Edith Ferguson, was so enthusiastic about any young person’s musical potential, and she inspired hundreds of young musicians across Lanarkshire,’ he said.

‘I believe peripatetic teaching and access to music from a young age is vital.

‘A younger person can thrive through music. It encourages creative thinking, healthy expression, and self-discipline.

‘Youth orchestras, such as the RCS Juniors, are a fantastic social experience.

‘They offer an opportunity to make new friends, forge important bonds through music and gain exceptional life experience.

‘For me, music was always a source of great joy in my childhood, and I am passionate about supporting this nation’s next generation of musical talent, helping young people be afforded the same opportunities I was.’

Patrick spent a week with students from RCS’s junior and senior schools, kicking off with an hour-long conversation for students and guests where he discussed his life and work.

‘It has been inspiring to spend time with people at the start of their journey in music and composition,’ he said. ‘The Juniors concert was world class.

‘I found it very emotional hearing my music played by such a talented group of young people who clearly have worked so hard this term.

‘They all have such a bright future ahead of them. I never dreamt that one day I would be invited back to where it all began.’

But before the Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations stacked up for his sweeping soundtracks, Patrick enjoyed a ten-year career as a film and television actor.

Credit: Robbie McFadzean

He starred in John Byrne’s play The Slab Boys in 1978 and the Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire in 1981, playing Jimmie.

In 1987, he joined Sir Kenneth Branagh’s Renaissance Theatre Company as composer and musical director.

In 1989, he was commissioned to compose the score for the feature film Henry V, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle.

Patrick won an Ivor Novello award for the score, and it was the start of a remarkable 30-year composer/director relationship, during which Patrick has written the music for Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Hamlet, As You Like It, Cinderella and, most recently, both Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile.

Francis Cummings, Head of the Junior Conservatoire of Music, said: ‘Patrick is one of the world’s leading film composers who began his journey in the Junior Conservatoire, and it was a thrill to welcome him back to his roots.

‘Patrick has been extremely generous with his time, resources and expertise and we feel enormously privileged to have this opportunity to work so closely with him.’