JAMES MACMILLAN talks to RODERIC DUNNETT
about composing sacred and liturgical music
<< Continued from page 2
A decade ago MacMillan composed a response to the Easter Story in his
Seven Last Words of Our Saviour from the Cross, a work for SATB choir
and strings premièred by the gifted Glasgow-based early music ensemble
Cappella Nova. More recently, his symphonic triptych or Triduum,
celebrating by turns Maundy Thursday (his Cor Anglais Concerto The Soul's
Ransoming), Good Friday (the Cello Concerto) and Easter Sunday (his
Symphony, entitled Vigil) has drawn attention to the centrality of
Christian belief and ritual in his own life and thinking.
Other sacred settings have since followed with increasing regularity
: Christus Vincit, an unaccompanied 8-voice setting for St Paul's
Cathedral in London; A Child's Prayer (for Westminster Abbey in cluding
two treble solo parts); Seinte Mari Moder Milde, MacMillan's setting
(with organ) of 13th century texts for the service of Nine Lessons and Carols
at King's College, Cambridge; Divo Aloysio Sacrum (SATB, with optional
organ); and A New Song, an unaccompanied psalm setting.
Furthermore, Ayrshire-born MacMillan also set to with a will to produce
two congregational settings of the Mass, one (The Galloway Mass,
for unison congregation with SATB choir) for Ayr's Cathedral of the Good
Shepherd; the other for St.Anne's Church, also in Ayr.
And this year, MacMillan has made two major contributions to liturgical
setting : his Magnificat, a BBC commission composed to celebrate
the new millennium, received its orchestral première at Wells Cathedral
early in the year; and next week, on Saturday July l5th during evensong
at Winchester Cathedral, his Nunc Dimittis receives its world première,
together with the Magnificat, newly heard in the alternative version
with organ, conducted by David Hill.
Was it inevitable MacMillan would be drawn to the Mass and to the liturgy
Copyright © 6 July 2000 Roderic Dunnett,
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