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Composer: MacMillan, Sir James (b. 1959)

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LondonNorthern Lights: Celebrating the music of Northern Lands

Northern Lights: Celebrating the music of Northern Lands
Rachmaninov, Sibelius, Tormis, MacMillan, Ešenvalds, Gjeilo, Grieg
Jonathan Williams; Ealing Choral Society; Eira Sjaastad-Huse; Alexander Pott

AmsterdamFauré Requiem sung by The Netherlands Radio Choir

© Simon van Boxtel
MacMillan, Pärt, Duruflé, Fauré
Netherlands Radio Philharmonic; Klaas Stok; Sophie Junker; John Brancy; Netherlands Radio Choir (Groot Omroepkoor)

LancasterThe Choral Pilgrimage 2019: Lancaster

The Choral Pilgrimage 2019: Lancaster
Tavener, Sheppard, Whitacre, Wylkynson, Fayrfax, Jackson, MacMillan
Harry Christophers; The Sixteen

CheltenhamMusic Of Rome

© Nick Rutter
Allegri, Frances-Hoad, Ingegneri, Palestrina, Finnis, Anerio, MacMillan, Waley-Cohen, Porta, Adolphe
Suzi Digby; ORA Singers

CarlisleThe Choral Pilgrimage 2019: Carlisle

The Choral Pilgrimage 2019: Carlisle
Tavener, Sheppard, Whitacre, Wylkynson, Fayrfax, Jackson, MacMillan
Harry Christophers; The Sixteen
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Ecstatic highs mark Denève’s Cleveland Orchestra program

Stéphane Denève © Uwe Ditz
An orchestral program on the theme of ecstasy, religious and profane, included a piano concerto by James MacMillan along with works by Jennifer Higdon, Debussy, and Scriabin.
****1
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Technique, fervency and passion: the Latvian Radio Choir

Latvian Radio Choir © Janis Deinats
The Latvian Radio Choir's 24 singers display exceptional virtuosity in the service of a varied programme of contemporary spiritual works.
*****
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The Sixteen bring British vocal music to Australia

The Sixteen © Firedog
The Sixteen enchant the audience in Sydney with an intelligently-created programme of British composers.
****1
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Sir James MacMillan’s 60th Astonishing Birthday Concert

Sir James MacMillan © Hansvander Woerd

Sir James MacMillan’s 60th Birthday Concert with SCO and Chorus rediscovers two major seminal works: the dramatic Veni, Veni, Emannuel with Colin Currie and the intense Seven Last Words from the Cross.

*****
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MacMillan première outgunned by Shostakovich

Ian Bostridge © Sim Canetty-Clarke
It’s always a heart-warming sight to see so many young people at the Barbican as members of the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain shared the stage with equal composure as the London Symphony Chorus and string players from the LSO.
****1
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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