Stonehaven composer wins music scholarship

Ben McMillan (28) is due to head off to New York in August 24.
Ben McMillan (28) is due to head off to New York in August 24.

A Stonehaven music student has secured a prestigious scholarship which will enable him to follow his dream of becoming a film composer.

Benjamin McMillan has been awarded the Saint Andrew’s Society of the State of New York Scholarship Fund to study in America on completion of his Masters in Vocal Composition course at the University of Aberdeen.

The 28 year-old has set his sights on a career as a film composer and was accepted onto the Masters in Film Composition and Music Technology at NYU Steinhardt, a specialist institution which has produced alumni including Disney’s most prolific composer Alan Menken, who has worked on films including The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, and the composer and producer Mark Ronson.

Ben will travel to New York in August to begin his studies. He said: “I am very grateful for the opportunity that winning the award has opened up. I am hoping to be successful in a couple of other grant applications which will help me to meet the overall cost of tuition and my brothers are organising a fundraising ceilidh but this has set me on my way.

“I will need to work once I’m over there to support my living costs but the scholarship has allowed me to follow a dream I never thought would be possible.

Professor Pete Stollery, Head of Music at the University of Aberdeen, said: “We are incredibly proud of Ben and this huge achievement to allow him to continue his studies in composition at one of the most prestigious film music schools in the US, NYU Steinhardt in New York.

The scholarship covers Ben’s first year of tuition, however he is now faced with the task of raising the remaining funds needed to pay for his accommodation and living costs. His family have rallied round, and with the aid of his brothers, he has organised a fundraising ceilidh in Stonehaven Town Hall, to take place on Saturday August 7.

He said: “I can’t wait to start the course, I’ve never found it difficult to make new friends and I already know some people over there, but I have never been away from my family for that long. My brothers came up with the idea to organise a ceilidh, and my mum suggested that we hold an auction on the night, so we are looking for donations from local businesses.”

Local restaurant Molly Gunnings and salon Beauty 53 have already signed up to the auction, with both donating vouchers to help Ben reach his goal. There will also be two bottles of whisky signed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon up for grabs at the auction. The Reel McCoy Band will be on hand to provide the music at the event, providing a mix of ceilidh and modern music on the night. Tickets go on sale from this Friday (June 5), with tickets available from Molly Gunnings. Anyone who can contribute to the auction can contact Ben via email at benjamin_mcmillan@hotmail.co.uk