James MacMillan


Born: July 16, 1959; Kilwilling, North Ayrshire  
James MacMillan has produced a spate of works in various genres -- symphonic, concerto, opera, theater, sacred, choral, and much else. He has achieved great success with a number of them, placing him easily among the leading Scottish composers from the late twentieth and early twenty first centuries. 1990 was a watershed time for MacMillan: that year his theatrical piece Búsqueda (1988) was introduced at the Edinburgh International Festival, and Read more his orchestral work The Confession of Isobel Gowdie was premiered at a Proms concert, both events catapulting him to national as well as international notice. The latter opus and his percussion concerto Veni, Veni, Emmanuel are probably MacMillan's most popular large works. MacMillan's style incorporates some modernist characteristics (leftovers from his youth), but on the whole his music, with its use of Scottish folk music; his quite approachable melodic and rhythmic invention; and his gift for imaginative and colorful scoring place his style well within the accessible range. Indeed, but his sacred music, inspired by his Roman Catholicism and sympathies for the oppressed, is stylistically often more challenging, with a mixture of the dissonant and the medieval, of disruption and consolation. MacMillan's works are widely available on recordings and often played in the concert hall, especially throughout the U.K.

James MacMillan was born in Kilwinning, Scotland, on July 16, 1959. Raised in Cumnock, North Ayrshire, he studied composition with Rita McAllister at the University of Edinburgh and with John Casken at Durham University.

After the success of Búsqueda and The Confession of Isobel Gowdie, MacMillan was suddenly in demand, with many important commissions: Veni, Veni, Emmanuel, was premiered in 1992 by Evelyn Glennie, with spectacular success, and the 1993 cantata Seven Last Words from the Cross, achieved great acclaim during its Holy Week screening on the BBC in 1994. Further, MacMillan produced a cello concerto for Mstislav Rostropovich, who premiered it in 1997.

In 2000 MacMillan began a nine-year stint as composer/conductor with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. Since the turn of the century he has also conducted the London Symphony, the NHK, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony, and many other orchestras in performances of his works and those of other contemporary composers (Birtwistle, Casken, Lindberg). Among MacMillan's most important recent works are his second opera, The Sacrifice, premiered by the Welsh National Opera in 2007, and his St. John Passion, premiered by the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in 2008. Read less

There are 100 James MacMillan recordings available.

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James MacMillan

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do
Woman, Behold, Thy son!... Behold, Thy Mother!
Verily, I say unto you, today thou shalt be with me in Paradise
Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani?
I thirst
It is finished
Father, into Thy hands I commend my Spirit
"...as others see us...": Henry VIII (1491-1547)
John Wilmot (1647-1680)
John Churchill (1650-1722)
George Gordon (1788-1824) and William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
Thomas Stearns Eliot (1888-1965)
Dorothy Mary Hodgkin (b. 1910)
The menagerie, caged: The book is opened: Andante -
The menagerie, caged: No. 1. Ode to a cro-magnon hyena: Adagio -
The menagerie, caged: A page is turned: Tempo I -
The menagerie, caged: No. 2. Reptiles and Big Fish [in a small pond]: Largo - Andante - Largo - Andante - Tempo di valse [Allegro] - Andante - Largo -
The menagerie, caged: No. 3. Her Serene and Ubiquitous Majesty, Queen Bee: Senza misura: Prestissimo possibile, sempre legatissimo - [ - ] - Adagio -
The menagerie, caged: Another page is turned: Tempo I -
The menagerie, caged: No. 4. The red-handed, no-surrender, howler monkey: [ - ] - Tempo di marcia -
The menagerie, caged: No. 5. Uncle Tom Cat and his Chickens: Adagio -
The menagerie, caged: Yet another page is turned: Tempo I -
The menagerie, caged: No. 6. Scottish Patriots: [ - ] - [ - ] - Maestoso -
The menagerie, caged: No. 7. The Reverend Cuckoo and his Parroting Chorus: [ - ] -
The menagerie, caged: No. 8. Jackass Hackass: Prestissimo possibile [moto perpetuo] -
The menagerie, caged: The book is closed: Tempo I -
The menagerie, uncaged
Largo - Andante - Tempo di reel - Allegro - Presto -
quarter note = c. 60-63 -
Andante -
Tempo I [Largo] -
Hauls, Hauls of fish (Chorus)
I. The Mockery
II. The Reproaches
III. Dearest Wood and Dearest Iron
I. The Reiver and the Bull
II. The Dream of Pectgils
III. A Mystical Vision of the Christ-child
I. [marcato e ritmico]
II. Largo
III. Allegro
eighth note = 140+ energico -
quarter note = 60 -
eighth note = 104
I. Cumnock fair: Fast
II. Shambards: quarter note = c. 60
III. Shamnation: Allegro [Tempo di reel]
Senza Misura - Andante - Senza Misura (cadenza) - Largamente (Adore te devote) - (attacca)
Allegro - Senza Misura
I. Assault
II. Reflection
III. Exorcism
Largo, molto rubato
Like a very fast reel
No. 1. The Storm
No. 2. Here are we met, 3 merry boys -
No. 3. In dispraise of whisky -
No. 4. We are na' fou'! -
No. 5. It is the moon, I ken her horn -
No. 6. Three merry boys again [sometime later] -
No. 7. Wha' first shall rise to gang awa' -
No. 8. Man to man ... shall brithers be ... -
No. 9. Finale
I. crotchet = 60
II. quaver = ca. 90
Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do
Woman, Behold, Thy son!... Behold, Thy Mother!
Verily, I say unto you, today thou shalt be with me in Paradise
Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani?
I thirst
It is finished
Father, into Thy hands I commend my Spirit
I: Adagio
II: Grandioso ed affrettando
III: Adagio
I. 'I first saw them'
II. 'Domini canes' ('Dogs of the Lord')
III. 'I saw them leading'
IV. 'Sometimes, like Tobias'
V. 'If you turn down the offerings'
I. Light
II. Tuba insonet salutaris
III. Water
I. -
II. -
III. -
Three Dawn Rituals: Larghetto
Allegro moderato
Heart Beats
Dance Chorale
Scene 1
Scene 2
Scene 3

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