The Academic symphony orchestra of the St. Petersburg Philharmonia under the baton of Alexander Titov will perform the Russian premieres of two works by modern Scottish composer James MacMillan on November 27. For the 2021/2022 season modern Scottish composer James MacMillan has been announced as the St Petersburg Philharmonia’s composer-in residence: his compositions’ cycle will combine three concerts, it is planned that the cycle’s final program will be conducted in February by the composer himself. The project is part of the international UK-Russia Creative Bridge 2021-2022 program, supported by the Department of Culture and Education of the British Embassy in Moscow.
The Academic symphony orchestra of the St Petersburg Philharmonia under the baton of Alexander Titov will perform Russian premieres of James MacMillan’s orchestral fantasy Britannia (1994) and Larghetto (2009, orchestrated in 2017) on November 27 as the first program of the cycle. The program also includes masterpieces of Russian music – Polovtsian Dances from Borodin's "Prince Igor" and Prokofiev's cantata "Alexander Nevsky", soloist - Olesya Petrova (mezzo-soprano). The St. Petersburg Conservatoire Choir takes part in the concert.
On December 18, in the frame of the XXI “Arts Square” International Winter Festival, the Academic symphony orchestra under the baton of Vassily Sinaisky will play the premiere of Ein Lämplein verlosch (2018, arrangement for string orchestra – 2019). The program also features Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1 (soloist – worldwide known violinist Vadim Repin) and Brahms’ Symphony No. 3.
The concert cycle of James MacMillan’s music will end up on February 5, 2022, when the Academic symphony orchestra under the baton of the composer will perform a piece, the premiere of which in 1990 started his world fame – The Confession of Isobel Gowdie, also, for the first time in Russia – Saxophone Concerto (2017). The program will also feature masterpieces of Russian symphony music – Tchaikovsky’s Symphonic fantasy “Francesca da Rimini” and fragments from “Romeo & Juliet” ballet by Prokofiev.
MacMillan wrote: There are strong Scottish traits in my works, but also an aggressive and forthright tendency with a strong rhythmic physicality, showing the influence of Stravinsky, Messiaen and some minimalist composers.... My philosophy of composition looks beyond the introversion of the New Music “ghetto” and seeks a wider communication while in no way promoting a compromising populism.... The “modernist” zeal of the post-World War II generation of composers who attempted to eschew any continuation of tradition is anathema to me. I respect tradition in many forms, whether cultural, political or historical, and in keeping up a continuous, delicate scrutiny of old forms, ancient traditions, enduring beliefs and lasting values one is strengthened in one’s constant, restless search for new avenues of expression. The existence of the influence of the old alongside the experiments of the new should not appear incongruous.
James MacMillan is one of the most successful contemporary Scottish composers. He achieved widespread fame in 1990 with the successful premiere of The Confession of Isobel Gowdie in BBC Proms, Britain's largest festival. His Concerto for percussion and orchestra Veni, Veni, Emmanuel (1992) has been performed worldwide over five hundred times, in particular, by such prominent ensembles as the London Symphony Orchestra, the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Cleveland Orchestra. The composer's other major works include cantata Seven Last Words from the Cross (1993), Quickening (1998) for soloists, children’s choir, mixed choir and orchestra, operas Inés de Castro (2001) and The Sacrifice (2005-2006), St John Passion (2007), St Luke Passion (2013), Symphony No. 5: "Le grand Inconnu" (2018).
James MacMillan has been a key figure in such major events and venues as Edinburgh International Festival (1993, 2019), Southbank Centre (1997), BBC Composer of the Week at the Barbican (2005), and the Grafenegg Festival (2012). James MacMillan's music interpreters include soloists Evelyn Glennie, Colin Currie, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Vadim Repin, conductors Leonard Slatkin, Sir Andrew Davis, Marin Alsop, Donald Runnicles, and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon. His recordings have been released by such labels as BMG/RCA Red Seal, BIS, Chandos, Naxos, Hyperion, Coro, Linn and Challenge Classics.
The most complete official biography of the composer is available on Boosey & Hawkes classical music publisher's website
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