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Composer: MacMillan, James (b. 1959)

February 2018
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BarcelonaWelcome Jesu, deep in my soul forever stay

Welcome Jesu, deep in my soul forever stay
Tavener, Fauré, MacMillan, Bach, Elgar, Mozart
Simon Halsey; Chamber Chorus of the Palau de la Música Catalana; Jordi Armengol

AntwerpTime Is Endless

Time Is Endless
Rachmaninov, Pärt, MacMillan, Rautavaara, Saariaho, De Ley, Miskinis, Ešenvalds
Klaas Stok; Flemish Radio Choir

DublinMonumental: Credo + Goliath

Gribbin, MacMillan
RTÉ Concert Orchestra; Ryan McAdams; Toby Kearney; RTÉ Philharmonic Choir; James MacMillan

DublinJames MacMillan's Stabat Mater

MacMillan: Stabat Mater
Irish Chamber Orchestra; James MacMillan; Chamber Choir Ireland

GatesheadSt Luke Passion

St Luke Passion
MacMillan: St Luke Passion
Royal Northern Sinfonia; Hugh Brunt; Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia; Quay Voices; Unknown
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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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An underwhelming performance of MacMillan & Beethoven

Xian Zhang at the podium © Chris Christodoulou
An underwhelming performance that fell prey to poor interpretive judgements. 
**111
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From Baroque'n'roll to contemporary at Kings Place

Leonard Elschenbroich © Felix Broede
Leonard Elschenbroich joined with the 12 ensemble for an evening dedicated to the Suite italienne, a stroll through time though with a focus on contemporary composers.
***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