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Composer: MacMillan, Sir James (b. 1959)

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Evening performance
Matinee performance
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CardiffBBC National Chorus of Wales Sing Sir James MacMillan

BBC National Chorus of Wales Sing Sir James MacMillan
MacMillan
Adrian Partington; BBC National Chorus of Wales

LondonFarewell to Arms

Farewell to Arms
Howells, Gurney, Ireland, Finzi, MacMillan
Richard Robbins; Guy Murgatroyd; Unknown

LondonLPO Debut Sounds: Common Language

LPO Debut Sounds: Common Language
MacMillan
James MacMillan; London Philharmonic Orchestra Foyle Future Firsts; echo; Soloists of the London Philharmonic Orchestra

LondonProm 3: BBC Young Musician 40th Anniversary

Saint-Saëns, Ravel, MacMillan, Bruce, Foster, Farrington
Ben Goldscheider; Andrew Gourlay; Nicola Benedetti; Jennifer Pike; Nicholas Daniel; Alexander Bone

Chamalières-sur-LoireVoix sacrées en bords de Loire

Morales, Buxtehude, Lotti, Mompou, Tippett, MacMillan, Connesson, Looten
Catherine Simonpietri; Ensemble vocal Sequenza 9.3
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An intriguing Dutch National double bill

Sebastià Peris i Marco (Sam) and Turiya Haudenhuyse (Dinah) © Hans van den Bogaard
What is the link between Bernstein’s criticism of American consumerism and MacMillan's biblical tale?
***11
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Macmillan’s St Luke Passion at Sage Gateshead disappoints

Royal Northern Sinfonia © Mark Savage
Royal Northern Sinfonia’s performance of Sir James Macmillan’s St Luke Passion had moments of high drama, but one crucial element of the piece was mostly missing. 
**111
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Scotch Beasts and other forms of Britishness in Philadelphia's Winter Festival

Yannick Nézet-Séguin © Hans van der Woerd
The Philadelphia Orchestra's Winter Festival celebrates the British Isles. 
****1
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Ancient and Modern: a beautiful Winter Chorale

Scottish Ensemble at St John's Kirk © Scottish Ensemble (2015)
The Scottish Ensemble is joined by I Fagiolini in a Winter Chorale linking ancient and modern music for Advent and Christmas. 
****1
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RNO and Andreescu impress at Enescu Festival

Vadim Repin © Cătălina Filip
Following some rhythmically challenged Ginastera, Horia Andreescu and the Russian National Orchestra impress with confidently played MacMillan and Tchaikovsky.
***11
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Biography

Read our October 2013 interview of James MacMillan here.

James MacMillan read music at Edinburgh University and took doctoral studies in composition at Durham University with John Casken. After working as a lecturer at Manchester University, he returned to Scotland and settled in Glasgow. The successful première of Tryst at the 1990 St Magnus Festival led to his appointment as Affiliate Composer of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Between 1992 and 2002 he was Artistic Director of the Philharmonia Orchestra’s Music of Today series of contemporary music concerts. MacMillan is internationally active as a conductor, working as composer/conductor with the BBC Philharmonic between 2000 and 2009, and appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic from 2010. He was awarded a CBE in January 2004.

In addition to The Confession of Isobel Gowdie, which launched MacMillan’s international career at the BBC Proms in 1990, his orchestral output includes the percussion concerto Veni, Veni, Emmanuel, premièred by Evelyn Glennie in 1992 and which has since received over 400 performances worldwide. MacMillan’s music has been programmed extensively at international music festivals, including the Edinburgh Festival in 1993, the Bergen Festival in 1997, Southbank Centre’s 1997 Raising Sparks festival in London, the Queensland Biennial in 1999, the BBC Barbican Composer Weekend in 2005 and the Grafenegg Festival in 2012. A documentary film portrait of MacMillan by Robert Bee was screened on ITV’s South Bank Show in 2003.

Works by MacMillan from the 1990s also include Seven Last Words from the Cross for chorus and string orchestra, screened on BBC TV during Holy Week 1994, Inés de Castro, premièred by Scottish Opera, a triptych of orchestral works commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra: The World’s Ransoming, a Cello Concerto for Mstislav Rostropovich, and Symphony: “Vigil” premièred under the baton of Rostropovich in 1997, and Quickening for The Hilliard Ensemble, chorus and orchestra, co-commissioned by the BBC Proms and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

MacMillan works composed over the past decade include Piano Concerto no. 2 first performed with choreography by Christopher Wheeldon at New York City Ballet, A Scotch Bestiary commissioned to inaugurate the new organ at Disney Hall with soloist Wayne Marshall and the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, and The Sacrifice premièred and toured by Welsh National Opera in 2007. His St John Passion, co-commissioned by the LSO, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra and Berlin Radio Choir, was premièred under the baton of Sir Colin Davis in 2008.

2010 featured the premières of two new concertos; a violin concerto for Vadim Repin co-commissioned by the LSO, Zaterdag Matinee and Philadelphia Orchestra, and an oboe concerto toured by Nicholas Daniel and Britten Sinfonia. 2011 highlights included premières of MacMillan’s Piano Concerto no. 3 for Jean-Yves Thibaudet and the Minnesota Orchestra and a new one-act opera, Clemency, commissioned by the ROH2, Scottish Opera, Boston Lyric Opera and Britten Sinfonia. First performances in 2012 include festive settings of the Gloria (to mark the 50th anniversary of the consecration of Coventry Cathedral) and of the Credo, which received its world première at the BBC Proms.

In terms of recordings, the Koch Schwann disc of The Confession of Isobel Gowdie and Tryst won the 1993 Gramophone Contemporary Music Record of the Year Award, and the BMG recording of Veni, Veni, Emmanuel won the 1993 Classic CD Award for Contemporary Music. MacMillan discs on the BIS label include the complete Triduum conducted by Osmo Vänskä, the clarinet concerto Ninian and the trumpet concerto Epiclesis. A MacMillan series on Chandos with the BBC Philharmonic includes The Berserking, Symphony no. 3: “Silence”, which won a Classical Brit award in 2006, Quickening, and The Sacrifice. Other acclaimed recordings include Mass and Seven Last Words from the Cross on Hyperion and discs on the Naxos, Black Box, Coro, Linn and LSO Live labels.

James MacMillan is published exclusively by Boosey & Hawkes.

Reprinted by kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes