James Macmillan (b 1959)

Episodes

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02Happy 60th Birthday!20190716

Sir James MacMillan is reflecting on his prolific life in composition as he celebrates his 60th birthday this week.

He discusses his regret at joining the Communist Party at the age of 14 because of the hurt it caused his grandfather. And his early search for some kind of fusion of Christian theology and Marxist philosophy, including the influence on his music of a radical movement that grew up in South America as a response to the widespread poverty and the ill-treatment of ordinary people.

He also remembers his friendship with Mstislav Rostropovich which led to the commissioning of his Cello Concerto, written at the time of the Dunblane shooting. And he describes the creation of his next great musical success: Veni, Veni Emmanuel – the percussion concerto he wrote for his friend Evelyn Glennie

For Ian
John York, piano

Cantos Sagrados (Identity)
The Elysian Singers
Carl Jackson, organ
Sam Laughton, conductor

The Reproaches, from Cello Concerto
Raphael Wallfisch, cello
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Osmo Vanska, conductor

Veni, Veni Emmanuel
Evelyn Glennie, percussion
Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Jukka Pekka Saraste, conductor

Presenter: Donald Macleod
Producer: Rosie Boulton

MacMillan's strong political and religious views and his two concertos written for friends

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

03A zoo, a lament and a protest20190717

Sir James MacMillan is reflecting on his prolific life in composition as he celebrates his 60th birthday this week.

By 1999 James had become the most successful Scottish composer ever and the most often performed. But he remembers that not everything was straightforward. He gave a lecture at the Edinburgh Festival under the title Scotland’s Shame, claiming that Scotland was a country riven with anti-Catholic bigotry. The controversy that followed rumbled on for years and still leaves him confused.

His criticism of Scotland found its way into two of the works in today's programme: A Scotch Bestiary and his Second Piano Concerto, the last movement of which is entitled Shamnation.

A Scotch Bestiary
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Wayne Marshall, piano
James MacMillan, conductor

Tenebrae Responsories
The Sixteen
Harry Christophers, conductor

Sarah’s Lament – Months from Now, from Clemency
Christine Abraham, soprano.
Boston Lyric Opera
David Angus, conductor

Shamnation (3rd mvt of Piano Concerto No 2)
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Wayne Marshall, piano
James MacMillan, conductor

Presenter: Donald Macleod
Producer: Rosie Boulton

MacMillan criticises Scotland in a speech and his music: A Scotch Bestiary and Shamnation

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

04A dawn, a community and a ring20190718

Sir James MacMillan is reflecting on his prolific life in composition as he celebrates his 60th birthday this week.

He considers his connection with his listeners and the importance of hearing stories from audiences about their reactions to his music. With this in mind, he’s made a habit of writing music for the communities in which he lives. He also describes the daily habit of composition and the need to sometimes allow the creative process to rest.

James encountered Wagner's Ring Cycle as a child. He was entranced by this music and happily remains under its spell today.

O Radiant Dawn, from Strathclyde Motets
The Sixteen
Harry Christophers, conductor

Miserere
The Sixteen
Harry Christophers, conductor

Oboe Concerto
Nicholas Daniel, oboe
Britten Sinfonia
James MacMillan, conductor

Mal: I cannot say I haven’t dreamt a 1,000 times of killing him (Act 3 Scene 3 from The Sacrifice)
Orchestra and Chorus of Welsh National Opera
Anthony Negus, conductor

Presenter: Donald Macleod
Producer: Rosie Boulton

MacMillan considers his connection with his listeners and the process of composition.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

05A tryst, a grief and a dream20190719

Sir James MacMillan is reflecting on his prolific life in composition as he celebrates his 60th birthday this week.

The establishment of the Cumnock Tryst is James's way of bringing an inclusive music festival to his community in Ayrshire.

He also describes the composition of his Violin Concerto, which was inspired by a dream he had following the death of his mother. And he talks about the death of his granddaughter and the impact that this has had on his life and music.

Domus Infelix Est - An Unhappy House
The Elysian Singers
Sam Laughton, conductor

One
Britten Sinfonia
James MacMillan, conductor

Prelude (St Luke Passion)
Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra,
Netherlands Radio Choir, National Youth Choir
Markus Stenz, conductor

Benedicimus Deum coeli (Strathclyde Motets)
The Sixteen
Harry Christophers, conductor

Song and Dance (Violin Concerto, 3rd movement)
Vadim Repin, violin
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Donald Runnicles, conductor

Fac, ut portem Christi mortem (Stabat Mater)
The Sixteen
Britten Sinfonia
Harry Christophers, conductor

Presenter: Donald Macleod
Producer: Rosie Boulton

Music brings sharing to James\u2019s community and solace to his family in difficult times.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

201901A Grandfather, A Recorder And A Confession20190715

Sir James MacMillan is reflecting on his prolific life in composition as he celebrates his 60th birthday this week.

He was born 16 July 1959 in Kilwinning, North Ayrshire, but grew up in the East Ayrshire town of Cumnock. His grandfather introduced him to brass band music and his primary teacher taught him the recorder. The combination of these musical experiences sparked a lifelong passion in James to make and create music of his own.

He studied composition at the University of Edinburgh with Kenneth Leighton and at Durham University with John Casken. A trip to Darmstadt International Summer Course confirmed in him a longing to build on musical traditions of the past rather than abandoning all that has gone before.
He caught the attention of the classical establishment with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra's premiere of The Confession of Isobel Gowdie at the BBC Proms in 1990. Isobel Gowdie was one of many women executed for witchcraft in 17th-century Scotland.

The Storm from Into the Ferment
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
James MacMillan, conductor

Berserking (1st movement)
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
James MacMillan, conductor

It is Finished, from Seven Last Words from the Cross
Polyphony
Britten Sinfonia
Stephen Layton, conductor

The Confession of Isobel Gowdie
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
James MacMillan, conductor

Presenter: Donald Macleod
Producer: Rosie Boulton

James MacMillan discovers music in his Catholic family and East Ayrshire community.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

201902Happy 60th Birthday!20190716

Sir James MacMillan is reflecting on his prolific life in composition as he celebrates his 60th birthday this week.

He discusses his regret at joining the Communist Party at the age of 14 because of the hurt it caused his grandfather. And his early search for some kind of fusion of Christian theology and Marxist philosophy, including the influence on his music of a radical movement that grew up in South America as a response to the widespread poverty and the ill-treatment of ordinary people.

He also remembers his friendship with Mstislav Rostropovich which led to the commissioning of his Cello Concerto, written at the time of the Dunblane shooting. And he describes the creation of his next great musical success: Veni, Veni Emmanuel – the percussion concerto he wrote for his friend Evelyn Glennie

For Ian
John York, piano

Cantos Sagrados (Identity)
The Elysian Singers
Sam Laughton, conductor

The Reproaches, from Cello Concerto
Raphael Wallfisch, cello
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Osmo Vanska, conductor

Veni, Veni Emmanuel
Evelyn Glennie, percussion
Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Jukka Pekka Saraste, conductor

Presenter: Donald Macleod
Producer: Rosie Boulton

MacMillan's strong political and religious views and his two concertos written for friends

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

Sir James MacMillan is reflecting on his prolific life in composition as he celebrates his 60th birthday this week.

He discusses his regret at joining the Communist Party at the age of 14 because of the hurt it caused his grandfather. And his early search for some kind of fusion of Christian theology and Marxist philosophy, including the influence on his music of a radical movement that grew up in South America as a response to the widespread poverty and the ill-treatment of ordinary people.

He also remembers his friendship with Mstislav Rostropovich which led to the commissioning of his Cello Concerto, written at the time of the Dunblane shooting. And he describes the creation of his next great musical success: Veni, Veni Emmanuel – the percussion concerto he wrote for his friend Evelyn Glennie

For Ian
John York, piano

Cantos Sagrados (Identity)
The Elysian Singers
Carl Jackson, organ
Sam Laughton, conductor

The Reproaches, from Cello Concerto
Raphael Wallfisch, cello
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Osmo Vanska, conductor

Veni, Veni Emmanuel
Evelyn Glennie, percussion
Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Jukka Pekka Saraste, conductor

Presenter: Donald Macleod
Producer: Rosie Boulton

MacMillan's strong political and religious views and his two concertos written for friends

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

201903A Zoo, A Lament And A Protest20190717

Sir James MacMillan is reflecting on his prolific life in composition as he celebrates his 60th birthday this week.

By 1999 James had become the most successful Scottish composer ever and the most often performed. But he remembers that not everything was straightforward. He gave a lecture at the Edinburgh Festival under the title Scotland’s Shame, claiming that Scotland was a country riven with anti-Catholic bigotry. The controversy that followed rumbled on for years and still leaves him confused.

His criticism of Scotland found its way into two of the works in today's programme: A Scotch Bestiary and his Second Piano Concerto, the last movement of which is entitled Shamnation.

A Scotch Bestiary
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Wayne Marshall, piano
James MacMillan, conductor

Tenebrae Responsories
The Sixteen
Harry Christophers, conductor

Sarah’s Lament – Months from Now, from Clemency
Christine Abraham, soprano.
Boston Lyric Opera
David Angus, conductor

Shamnation (3rd mvt of Piano Concerto No 2)
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Wayne Marshall, piano
James MacMillan, conductor

Presenter: Donald Macleod
Producer: Rosie Boulton

MacMillan criticises Scotland in a speech and his music: A Scotch Bestiary and Shamnation

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

201904A Dawn, A Community And A Ring20190718

Sir James MacMillan is reflecting on his prolific life in composition as he celebrates his 60th birthday this week.

He considers his connection with his listeners and the importance of hearing stories from audiences about their reactions to his music. With this in mind, he’s made a habit of writing music for the communities in which he lives. He also describes the daily habit of composition and the need to sometimes allow the creative process to rest.

James encountered Wagner's Ring Cycle as a child. He was entranced by this music and happily remains under its spell today.

O Radiant Dawn, from Strathclyde Motets
The Sixteen
Harry Christophers, conductor

Miserere
The Sixteen
Harry Christophers, conductor

Oboe Concerto
Nicholas Daniel, oboe
Britten Sinfonia
James MacMillan, conductor

Mal: I cannot say I haven’t dreamt a 1,000 times of killing him (Act 3 Scene 3 from The Sacrifice)
Orchestra and Chorus of Welsh National Opera
Anthony Negus, conductor

Presenter: Donald Macleod
Producer: Rosie Boulton

MacMillan considers his connection with his listeners and the process of composition.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

201905 LASTA Tryst, A Grief And A Dream20190719

Sir James MacMillan is reflecting on his prolific life in composition as he celebrates his 60th birthday this week.

The establishment of the Cumnock Tryst is James's way of bringing an inclusive music festival to his community in Ayrshire.

He also describes the composition of his Violin Concerto, which was inspired by a dream he had following the death of his mother. And he talks about the death of his granddaughter and the impact that this has had on his life and music.

Domus Infelix Est - An Unhappy House
The Elysian Singers
Sam Laughton, conductor

One
Britten Sinfonia
James MacMillan, conductor

Prelude (St Luke Passion)
Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra,
Netherlands Radio Choir, National Youth Choir
Markus Stenz, conductor

Benedicimus Deum coeli (Strathclyde Motets)
The Sixteen
Harry Christophers, conductor

Song and Dance (Violin Concerto, 3rd movement)
Vadim Repin, violin
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Donald Runnicles, conductor

Fac, ut portem Christi mortem (Stabat Mater)
The Sixteen
Britten Sinfonia
Harry Christophers, conductor

Presenter: Donald Macleod
Producer: Rosie Boulton

Music brings sharing to James's community and solace to his family in difficult times.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.