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Musical World

James MacMillan

  • Composer
  • Conductor


MacMillan was appointed Affiliate Composer of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in 1990, and between 1992 and 2002 he was Artistic Director of the Philharmonia Orchestra's Music of Today series. In January 2005 MacMillan was the focus of a major retrospective in the BBC Symphony’s annual composer weekend at London’s Barbican Centre, where he conducted concerts with both the BBC Philharmonic and BBC Symphony Orchestra. In 2009, MacMillan won the prestigious Ivor Novello Classical Music Award and the British Composer Award for Liturgical Music.

MacMillan was recently announced as Principal Guest Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Kamer Filharmonie, a post he will take up from the 2010/11 season, following 9 years as Composer/Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic. He has conducted orchestras such as the Baltimore Symphony, Munich Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Melbourne Symphony. Highlights of last season include 'James MacMillan: The Story so Far', a season long focus on his music in Rotterdam, in which he conducted both the Rotterdam Philharmonic and Royal Flemish Philharmonic, while in London MacMillan conducted the Britten Sinfonia at the Royal Opera House Linbury Theatre, in a new Katie Mitchell production of his music theatre work Parthenogenesis.

During the 2009/10 season, MacMillan is the focus of an ‘Artist Portrait’ by the London Symphony Orchestra. Having conducted the orchestra in the 2009 City of London Festival, further highlights include the world premiere of his new Violin Concerto with Vadim Repin, conducted by Valery Gergiev, a revival of the St John Passion under the baton of Sir Colin Davis, and performances of his trumpet concerto Epiclesis and an education project based on his work for ensemble and orchestra Into the Ferment, both conducted by Kristjan Järvi. Also this season, MacMillan conducts the Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra in his St John Passion (a work which is also presented as part of the King’s College Cambridge Easter Festival under Stephen Cleobury), as well as the BBC Philharmonic, Florida Orchestra, Kymi Sinfonietta, Västerås Sinfonietta and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House in a Royal Ballet production of MacMillan’s Tryst, which is also presented this season by the Dutch Ballet in Amsterdam.

James MacMillan has directed many of his own works on disc for Chandos, BIS and BMG; his latest releases include an LSO Live disc of his St John Passion with the London Symphony Orchestra under Sir Colin Davis, and a Chandos recording of his large scale work Quickening and The Sacrifice: Three Interludes. This season MacMillan records A Deep but Dazzling Darkness and his percussion concerto Veni, Veni, Emmanuel with Colin Currie and the Netherlands Radio Kamer Filharmonie, and an acclaimed performance of his Seven Last Words has recently been released by the Dimitri Ensemble for Naxos. MacMillan was awarded a CBE in January 2004.