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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Beatus Vir for chorus and organ (withdrawn)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) 

composer/1988.jpg

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

composer/1989MacMillanCantosSagrados.jpg
 
Cantos Sagrados 

for choir and organ or orchestra

 
The Exorcism of Rio Sumpúl 

for mixed ensemble or chamber orchestra

composer/1990MacMillanConfession.jpg

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

composer/1992Visitato.jpg

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

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)

composer/1995macmcolour.jpg

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)

composer/1996Ines.jpg

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

composer/1997RaisingSparks.jpg
 
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

composer/2000MacMillanMassHyperon.jpg
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

composer/2003SouthBankShow.jpg
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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