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After a successful debut with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, violin soloist Nicola Benedetti gives the US premiere of James MacMillan’s Violin Concerto No.2 in November with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. The concerto is also presented in February with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

James MacMillan’s Violin Concerto No. 2 makes its US debut on November 17-19 with soloist Nicola Benedetti, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and conductor Fabio Luisi, following its acclaimed world premiere with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and conductor Maxim Emelyanychev in September.

This concerto—commissioned by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Swedish Chamber Orchestra and the Adam Mickiewicz Institute—was described by The Times as “a radiant jewel of a piece that seemed to inhabit a multitude of human emotions while guiding the listener through them with luminous clarity.” The Telegraph noted the work’s “raw emotion, the abrupt swerves in direction, propulsive dance rhythms and folksy decorations.”

MacMillan’s second violin concerto is written in one through-composed movement that places special importance on three chords that develops throughout the work. The composer explains: “It opens with three chords, and the notes which the soloist plays in these (pizzicato) outline a simple theme which is the core ingredient for much of the music. This three-note theme incorporates a couple of wide intervals which provide much of the expressive shape to a lot of the subsequent melodic development throughout the concerto.”

Violin Concerto No. 2 is dedicated to Nicola Benedetti, for whom MacMillan has previously written another piece, called From Ayrshire. The new concerto is also a memorial tribute to the Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki, who died in 2020 and was a major musical influence on MacMillan, particularly during his formative creative years. In an interview with The Scotsman, MacMillan recounts meeting Penderecki: “I actually met him once, at Buckingham Palace – it was Mstislav Rostropovich’s birthday, and I was sitting next to Penderecki at dinner. I think he was quite surprised that I even knew who he was, and I told him that I’d admired his music since being a teenager. I don’t think there’s anything of him in the Concerto’s music itself, but it’s a homage to someone I greatly admired when I was younger.”

MacMillan’s second violin concerto travels with Benedetti to the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra on February 10, conducted by MacMillan himself, with his The World’s Ransoming also featured on the program. Other major MacMillan works premiering this season include Her tears fell with the dews at even with the Pittsburgh Symphony and conductor Manfred Honeck on March 17, and Fiat Lux with the Pacific Symphony and Chorale, led by Carl St. Clair on June 15-17.

Concert Information
Thursday, November 17 at 7:30pm CDT
Friday, November 18 at 7:30pm CDT
Saturday, November 19 at 7:30pm CDT

Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center
Event info

Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Fabio Luisi, conductor
Nicola Benedetti, violin

JAMES MACMILLAN Violin Concerto No. 2 (US Premiere)

>  Further information on Work: Violin Concerto No.2

Photo: Marc Marnie and Andy Gotts

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