Thursday, February 4 // Toronto – Soundstreams continues its 2015/16 season this March with a visit from Scotland’s most celebrated composer and conductor, Sir James MacMillan. The Music of James MacMillan on March 8 at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre features MacMillan conducting Choir 21 and the Virtuoso String Orchestra, and will include choral works by MacMillan, Canadian composers R. Murray Schafer and James Rolfe, and Norway’s Knut Nystedt. Audiences across Ontario will also have the opportunity to experience this exceptional program at engagements in Kingston and Kitchener on March 4 and 6.
One of today’s most successful composers, Sir James MacMillan is also internationally active as a conductor, having served as Composer/Conductor for the BBC Philharmonic from 2000 to 2009. Emotionally potent, rhythmically thrilling, and richly reflective of his Catholic faith, Celtic cultural roots, and outspoken political conscience, MacMillan’s choral music has won worldwide critical and popular acclaim. In this concert, he conducts his own 1993 cantata Seven Last Words from the Cross. Combining dramatic narrative with spiritual meditation, this spellbinding sequence of seven adagio movements, inspired by the four gospel accounts of the Crucifixion, is justly regarded as one of his masterpieces. Also featured is his The Gallant Weaver, a tranquil piece based on a poem by Robert Burns, rich in Scottish flavor and evocative of Celtic folk music. MacMillan is the founder of the The Cumnock Tryst music festival, and was awarded a Knighthood in 2015.
Canadian choral masters—and Soundstreams favourites—R. Murray Schafer and James Rolfe are also celebrated in this concert. Schafer’s In Memoriam Alberto Guerrero pays homage to the Chilean pianist who taught such luminaries as Glenn Gould, John Beckwith, and Bruce Mather, while his Three Hymns (from The Fall into Light) is a moving exploration of the light within darkness from his epic multi-choir work commissioned and premiered by Soundstreams in 2003. James Rolfe’s When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d, commissioned by Soundstreams in 2006, is a piece for eight voices based on the lyric elegy written by Walt Whitman upon the assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. Rounding out the program is Norwegian composer Knut Nystedt’s Immortal Bach, an atmospheric deconstruction of Bach’s mournful chorale, Come Sweet Death.
“It is Soundstreams great privilege to host Sir James MacMillan in Canada for the third time since 2000,” says Soundstreams Artistic Director Lawrence Cherney. “His previous visits featured the Canadian premieres of his cantata, Raising Sparks, as well as his monumental choral work, Sun-Dogs, which we co-commissioned. This time, he conducts an entire concert featuring masterworks by Canadians R. Murray Schafer and James Rolfe alongside his own works. We are also delighted that this program will be enjoyed by even wider audiences through performances in Kingston and Kitchener.”