Under the guidance of resident composer Tom David Wilson, the writing of new music is an exciting and thriving element of life at St Mary’s Music School. Our Vice-President Sir James MacMillan is a regular visitor to the school, giving talks and workshops on various aspects of composition. 

Students of Composition are expected to rehearse and conduct their work as well as record and present it online. We promote the Isobel Dunlop Composition Award which draws distinguished supporters and judges including most recently Stuart MacRae alongside author Alexander McCall Smith, Sebastian Forbes and Master of the Queen’s Music, Judith Weir. 

The school has commissioned and performed works from composers based in Scotland and beyond, and the Cathedral Choir has long been at the forefront of commissioning and recording works from leading composers. Established composers Helen Grime, David Horne, Lliam [sic] Paterson, John De Simone and Alasdair Spratt and are alumni of the school. 

Students of Composition will take lessons in another, second subject, and occasionally learn three instruments. Every Instrumentalist learns to play the piano. Dalcroze and Kodaly are also explored as part of the Aural Programme. 

Pupils are formally assessed throughout their time at St Mary’s Music School, except in their final year when the focus shifts to conservatoire/university auditions and public performance. 

Pupils participate in competitions, local, national and international. Our pupils have gained considerable success in high profile contests such as the RSNO Chamber Music Competition.

Pieces written for St Mary’s Music School

Pieces written for St Mary’s Cathedral Choir

  Composing, the second in a series of four short films

Brass CD clips recorded whilst at school, arrangement by pupil David Swan

String Quartet Movement by Findlay Spence (S6)

Intermezzo by Hugh Mackie (Hugh was formerly Head Chorister at the Cathedral) played by Anna Michels 

Clip: Voluntary by pupil Max Carsley (then Head Chorister at the Cathedral), performed by Director of Music Paul Stubbings


Tom David Wilson

Tom David Wilson


Sir James MacMillan CBE

Sir James MacMillan CBE


Composers Staff