Sir James MacMillan

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June 12, 2020
Beethoven’s symphonies have come to be seen as the pinnacle of artistic achievement in music. The distinguished art historian Alessandra Comini described Beethoven’s music as having “revelatory dimensions”. The composer himself described his work as a divine art, and he regarded his symphonies as not merely products of high craftsmanship, but expressions of a moral
September 05, 2019
I was an undergraduate in Edinburgh way back in the late 1970s. Among the reasons I went there was the opportunity to study composition with Kenneth Leighton at the university’s Reid School, and the amazing concerts and other performances at the Edinburgh International Festival. It felt odd (and delightful) then to have the same Festival
April 04, 2019
Twenty years ago, in August 1999, I made a speech at the Edinburgh International Festival called “Scotland’s Shame” arguing that anti-Catholicism was a barrier to genuine pluralism. At the time it seemed to cause a bit of a stir. But looking back, it seems more like a storm in a teacup. There were many voices
August 02, 2018
My son Aidan is getting married next month. He and his bride will have their nuptial Mass in Cumnock, my old home town in Ayrshire. To be honest, the call back to the ancestral homelands was more to do with having their wedding reception at the astonishingly impressive Dumfries House, on the edge of the
May 02, 2018
One Friday in late April Lynne and I headed to Rome to hear a performance of my Stabat Mater in the Vatican on the Sunday evening. The concert was given by the original performers, The Sixteen and the Britten Sinfonia. It was premiered by them in Britain a few years ago, a commission from John
May 11, 2017
The people at the shrine in Fatima approached me some years ago about writing a new work to mark the centenary of the apparitions in 2017. It was an exciting commission and proved a journey of discovery for me. To be honest, I didn’t know much about Fatima, other than the basic elements of the
February 23, 2017
I’ve been involved in ongoing, fruitful discussions with theologians over the years. These have led to specific works such as my music theatre piece Parthenogenesis and my St Luke Passion, both of which came about through organised interactions with religious thinkers, under the auspices of the theologian and musician Jeremy Begbie. His first project with
January 21, 2016
People say – in fact, the most interesting people say – that God intervened in human history. That is, he interfered with our story, to become one of us, to know what it means to be human, and for us to know Him and to discover that He loves us, with all the implications that
January 21, 2016
The eulogy given by Sir James at his granddaughter Sara’s Requiem Mass tells how a frail young child brought God’s grace to the lives of all those who knew her