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James MacMillan Timeline

A year by year alignment of MacMillan's life and works

For works published by Boosey & Hawkes, links are provided to useful information including scorings, durations and repertoire notes.

 


 

Born 16 July at Kilwinning in Ayrshire, Scotland, son of a joiner and a teacher (later social worker)


1959
 

The family moves to Cumnock where he attends the local Roman Catholic School


1963
 

Tuition in piano and trumpet soon leads to earliest compositions, including a small piano piece and some orchestral music


1969
 

Attends secondary school at Cumnock Academy where his musical activities embrace Renaissance church music. Meets future wife Lynne


1973
 

Studies music at Edinburgh University where Rita McAllister introduces him to Stravinsky, Webern, Messiaen and 20th century Russian music


1977
 

Begins postgraduate composition studies at Durham University with John Casken, and through ethnomusicology develops interest in gamelan


1981
 

Returns to Ayrshire working as a part-time teacher. Starts playing and singing Scottish and Irish folk music. Local political and welfare activities during miners’ strike.


1983
Beatus Vir for chorus and organ (withdrawn)
 


 
The Road to Ardtalla  for chamber sextet
 


 
Three Dawn Rituals  for chamber ensemble
 


 
Wedding Introit  for organ
 

Sets The Tryst by William Soutar in the style of an old Scots ballad; the melody is to be a source of inspiration in many future works


1984
 


1985
 


 
St Anne's Mass  for unison voices and organ (or piano)
 

Takes up a lecturing post at Manchester University


1986
Festival Fanfares  for brass band
 


 
Two Visions of Hoy  for solo oboe and ensemble
 

Awarded doctorate from Durham University. His music is performed for the first time at the Musica Nova festival in Glasgow.


1987
Untold  for wind quintet (1987, rev.1991) 
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Returns to Scotland and settles in Glasgow, heralding an extremely creative period. Catholicism and political concerns meet in Búsqueda, a turning point in the composer’s output. Collaborations with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra begin through educational projects.

1988
After the Tryst  for violin and piano
 


 
Búsqueda  for speaker, actors, sopranos and ensemble
 


 
Into the Ferment  for ensemble and orchestra
 


 
Variation on Johnny Faa'  for soprano, flute, cello and harp
 


 
Visions of a November Spring  for string quartet (1988, rev.1991) 
 

Composer-in-Residence at the St Magnus Festival, Orkney, where Tryst is premiered by the SCO under Paul Daniel. Teaches his first composers’ course on Hoy with Peter Maxwell Davies. Tryst selected for broadcast by International Rostrum of Composers.


1989
Tryst  for orchestra
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Cantos Sagrados  for choir and organ or orchestra
 


 
The Exorcism of Rio Sumpúl  for mixed ensemble or chamber orchestra
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The Proms premiere of The Confession of Isobel Gowdie with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Jerzy Maksymiuk is a momentous success, and its telecast boosts composer’s profile throughout UK. Búsqueda is performed at the Edinburgh Festival with Diana Rigg. Featured composer at Musica Nova in Glasgow where The Berserking is premiered by Peter Donohoe.

1990
The Berserking  Concerto for piano and orchestra
 


 
...as others see us...  for mixed ensemble
 


 
 


 
Sowetan Spring  for wind band
 


 
Catherine's Lullabies  for choir, brass and percussion
 

Conducts The Confession of Isobel Gowdie with Philharmonia Orchestra in London and is subsequently appointed Visiting Composer. Tuireadh, written in response to the Piper Alpha oilrig disaster, is premiered at the St Magnus Festival by the Allegri Quartet and James Campbell. Featured composer at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. Records the old Tryst song with his heroes of folk music, the Whistlebinkies. Attends performance of John Clifford’s play Inès de Castro and begins planning an opera.


1991
Scots Song  for soprano and quintet or piano
 


 
Tuireadh  for clarinet and string quartet (or string orchestra)
 


 
Divo Aloysio Sacrum  for choir and organ (optional)
 


 
 


 
Intercession  for 3 oboes or 3 saxophones
 


 
Sinfonietta  for orchestra or chamber orchestra
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Tryst tours England on the Contemporary Music Network. First recordings of The Confession of Isobel Gowdie and Tryst released on Koch Schwann: the disc wins a Gramophone Award. Writes Veni, Veni, Emmanuel for percussionist Eveyln Glennie which is premiered to great acclaim at the BBC Proms. Launches the Philharmonia’s Music of Today series of early evening concerts in London, developing his interest in music beyond the central European mainstream, including Celtic, Nordic and Far Eastern composers, and those emerging from behind the former Iron Curtain.

1992
Veni, Veni, Emmanuel  Concerto for percussion and orchestra
 


 
Barncleupédie  for piano
 


 
So Deep  for choir with optional oboe and viola solos
 


 
Visitatio Sepulchri  for 7 singers and chamber orchestra (1992-93) 
 

Featured composer at the Edinburgh Festival with 18 works performed, including premiere of Epiclesis by trumpeter John Wallace, a double-bill of Búsqueda and Visitatio Sepulchri, and Sinfonietta and The Confession of Isobel Gowdie conducted by Leonard Slatkin. Attends staged performances of Búsqueda in Wiesbaden. Recording of Veni, Veni, Emmanuel, the first under a new contract with BMG, wins Classic CD Award and Koch Schwann disc of The Confession of Isobel Gowdie and Tryst wins Gramophone Contemporary Music Record of the Year Award.


1993
Kiss on Wood  for violin or cello and piano
composer/1993MacMillanBBM1008.jpg
 


composer/1993Gramophone.jpg
 
Angel  for piano
 


 
...here in hiding...  for 4 male voices or unaccompanied choir
 


 
They saw the stone had been rolled away  Fanfare for brass and percussion
 


 
Memoire imperiale  for orchestra
 


 
Seven Last Words from the Cross  Cantata for choir and strings
 


 
composer/1994Piano.jpg spacer

Travels to hear German premiere of Veni, Veni, Emmanuel with Sian Edwards conducting the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, and first US performances with Mstislav Rostropovich conducting the National Symphony in Washington and the Cleveland Orchestra under Jahja Ling. On the strength of the work, Rostropovich asks MacMillan to write two scores: a cello concerto for him to play and a symphony to conduct. Seven Last Words from the Cross televised nightly through Holy Week on BBC TV, and premiered complete in Glasgow. The overture Britannia receives over 30 performances by UK orchestras in the 1994/95 season.

1994
Ballad  for voice and piano
 


 
Britannia  for orchestra
 


 
Memento  for string quartet
 


 
Christus Vincit  for unaccompanied choir
 


 
White Note Paraphrase  for organ
 


 
Adam's Rib  for brass quintet (1994-95)
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North American performances of Veni, Veni, Emmanuel with Evelyn Glennie during 1995/96 include New York Philharmonic (Slatkin), Boston (Ozawa), Milwaukee (Elder), Toronto (Saraste), Philadelphia (Andrew Davis), Detroit (Järvi), St Louis (Alsop), Los Angeles (Gershon), plus performances in Netherlands, France, Sweden, Denmark, Czechoslovakia, Japan and Australia. Conducts all-MacMillan concert in Gdansk including new version of Tuireadh with string orchestra.

1995
Màiri  for 16-part unaccompanied choir
 


 
Seinte Mari moder milde  for choir and organ
 


 
The Children  for medium voice and piano
 


 
A Different World  for violin and piano
 


 
Inés de Castro  Opera in two acts (1991-95)
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Premieres of The World’s Ransoming, the first of a triptych of commissions from the London Symphony Orchestra, and Inès de Castro by Scottish Opera at the Edinburgh Festival. The opera is a public success, but proves controversial for its blending of traditional narrative structure with postmodern musical style. Choreography of Confession of Isobel Gowdie by Mark Baldwin. Rostropovich is soloist in the Cello Concerto, with the LSO conducted by Sir Colin Davis.

1996
The World's Ransoming  for orchestra, with concertante cor anglais (1995-96)
 


 
 


composer/1996Sculp.jpg
 
A Child's Prayer  for two treble soloists and unaccompanied choir
 


 
The Galloway Mass  for unison voices, choir (or cantor) and organ
 


 
The Halie Speerit's Dauncers  for children's choir and piano
 


 
 


 
Ninian  Concerto for clarinet and orchestra
 


 
Í (A Meditation on Iona)  for strings and percussion
 

Veni, Veni, Emmanuel reaches 100th performance in five years since its premiere. Celebrates anniversaries of St Ninian and St Columba with Ninian for clarinetist John Cushing, and Í (A Meditation on Iona). Fourteen Little Pictures premiered by György Pauk, Ralph Kirshbaum and Peter Frank. Featured composer at Bergen Festival. Premiere of Symphony ‘Vigil’, conducted by Rostropovich, completes the LSO’s Triduum series. 20 works performed at Raising Sparks festival in London, named after song cycle for Jean Rigby and Nash Ensemble.


1997
Fourteen Little Pictures  for piano trio
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The Gallant Weaver  for unaccompanied choir
 


 
Lumen Christi  for piano
 


composer/1997MacMillanVigilCD.jpg
 
Symphony: 'Vigil'  for orchestra
 


 
The Prophecy   for children's choir or high voice and instruments
 


 
Raising Sparks  Four songs for mezzo and ensemble
 


 
Why is this night different?   for string quartet
 


 
Changed  for mixed chorus, organ, harp, string trio or any three like instruments
 


 
Birthday Present  for piano solo
 


 
A New Song  for SATB chorus and organ
 

Premieres of Why is this night different? by Maggini Quartet, and orchestral version of Cantos Sagrados.


1998
Exsultet  for brass quintet and optional percussion
 


 
 


 
Quickening  for soli (ATTB), chorus, children's chorus and orchestra
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1999
Cello Sonata No.1  for cello and piano
 


 
The Company of Heaven  for children's choir, organ, wind band and optional carnyx
 


 
Cumnock Fair  for piano sextet, or string orchestra and piano
 


 
Heyoka Te Deum  for 3-part treble voices, flute, tubular bells and piano
 


 
Magnificat  for choir and organ, or orchestra
 


 
Symphony No.2  for chamber orchestra
 


2000
For Ian  for solo piano
 


 
Mass (Original version)  for choir (SATB) and organ
 


 
Nunc Dimittis  for choir (SATB) and organ, or orchestra
 


composer/2001Parthenogenesis.jpg
 
Parthenogenesis  Scena for soprano, baritone, actress and chamber ensemble
 


 
From Galloway  for solo clarinet
 


 
Northern Skies  Album of easy pieces for cello and piano
 


 
Cello Sonata No.2  for cello and piano
 


2001
in angustiis... I  for piano solo
 


 
in angustiis... II  for solo soprano, oboe or cello
 


composer/2001MacMillanBirdsofRhianno.jpg
 
The Birds of Rhiannon  Tone-poem for orchestra with optional chorus
 


 
Tremunt videntes angeli  for choir a cappella (SATB)
 


 
Te Deum  for choir and organ
 


 
Dutch Carol  for unison treble voices and piano
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2002
A Deep but Dazzling Darkness  for solo violin, ensemble and tape (2001-02)
 


 
For Neil  for piano solo
 


 
25th May 1967  for piano solo
 


 
O bone Jesu  for chorus a cappella
 


 
To My Successor  for chorus a cappella
 


 
Symphony No.3: 'Silence'  for orchestra

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