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James MacMillan

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James MacMillan


James MacMillan (Born on 16 July, 1959 in Kilwinning, North Ayrshire, Scotland) studied composition at the University of Edinburgh with Rita McAlister, and at Durham University with John Casken, gaining a PhD in 1987. He was a music lecturer at the University of Manchester from 1986–1988. After his studies, MacMillan returned to Scotland, composing prolifically, and becoming Associate Composer with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, working on education projects.

He came to the attention of the classical establishment with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra's premiere of The Confession of Isobel Gowdie at the Proms in 1990. The work's international acclaim spurred more high-profile commissions, including a percussion concerto for his fellow Scot, Evelyn Glennie. Veni, Veni, Emmanuel was premiered in 1992 and has become MacMillan's most performed work. He was also asked by Mstislav Rostropovich to compose a violoncello concerto; this was premiered by Rostropovich in 1997.

James MacMillan's compositions are infused with the spiritual and the political. Catholicism has inspired many of his pieces, including many sacred works for choir, e.g. Magnificat (1999), and several Masses. This central strand of his life and compositions was marked by the BBC Symphony Orchestra in early 2005, with an unparalleled survey of his music entitled From Darkness into Light. MacMillan and his wife are lay Dominicans, and he has collaborated with Michael Symmons Roberts, a Catholic poet, and also Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. James MacMillan was appointed composer and conductor with the BBC Philharmonic in 2000, and is expected to continue working with them until 2009.

Scottish traditional music has had a profound musical influence, and is often discernible in his works. MacMillan's use of familiar themes, coupled with his colourful orchestration, has made his music more accessible than the more academic style of avant-garde composers. This accessibility is further demonstrated by the range of his liturgical music: his Mass of 2000 was commissioned by Westminster Cathedral and contains sections which are for liturgical use only, some of which the congregation may join in; his St. Anne's Mass and Galloway Mass do not require advanced musicianship, being designed to be taught to a congregation.

Works for Winds


None discovered thus far.