Network with Singers Around the Globe!
In an exciting intercontinental collaboration, Soli Deo Gloria has partnered with the Hebrides Ensemble (Scotland’s premier new-music group), the Edinburgh International Festival, and Kings Place (London’s award-winning destination for the music and the arts) to commission a major new work by leading Scotland composer James MacMillan.
On Wednesday, August 22, 2012, the world will have a chance to hear the result, appropriately titled with the line that begins the resurrection story in The Gospel of John: "Since it was the Day of Preparation..." (John 19:31). The Hebrides Ensemble and Synergy Vocals, under the artistic direction of William Conway, with bass Brindley Sherratt portraying Christ, will present the world premiere at Greyfriars Kirk as part of the 2012 Edinburgh International Festival.
Since it was the Day of Preparation... is, in many ways, a natural culmination of James MacMillan’s lifelong interest in the crucifixion and resurrection narratives. Upon completion of his Seven Last Words from the Cross, which is regarded by many as his masterpiece, MacMillan said, “After writing my Seven Last Words from the Cross in 1993, I always knew that the inevitable next step would be a setting of one of the Gospel Passion narratives. It has since been my ambition to tackle such a project.”
The resulting St. John Passion for chorus, orchestra and solo baritone was given its world premiere in April 2008 by the London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis conducting. It was MacMillan’s largest work to date.
“In the plethora of passions popping up these days, [MacMillan’s St. John Passion] one has to rank among the finest ... this is a piece you simply must hear if you have any interest in contemporary sacred orchestral and choral work.”—Classical FM Magazine
Yet James MacMillan had also long wanted to set the rest of the biblical story to music:
“My setting of the St. John Passion takes the narrative right up to the death of Christ and then stops, but then I’ve always wondered what the rest of that passage would be like set to music….This is a great story, the “greatest story ever told,” some people say, so whether one sees it as a divine story or essentially a human one, that’s up to the listener, but if the listener is engaged by the possibility of having their thoughts and musical life transformed by the music, then that’s my ideal listener.”
—James MacMillan, in conversation with William Conway
(click to watch the complete interview)
When asked why there are so many pieces that meditate on the death of Christ and so few that focus on the resurrection story, MacMillan responded:
"The resurrection is more of a mystery . . . more of a shock to the whole human system. It requires, therefore, a degree of deeper reflection.”
—James MacMillan, in conversation with Chandler Branch, SDG's former CEO
(click to watch the complete interview - in right sidebar)
The Hebrides Ensemble is “one of the most innovative and thrilling ensembles in Europe” (The Scotsman)and is committed to supporting new composers and commissioning new works. James MacMillan says of William Conway, the group’s director and cellist, and a long-time friend, “I have always had great respect for all he has done in chamber music. To combine his players with voices was an extra special attraction.”
The August 2012 world premiere of MacMillan’s Since it was the Day of Preparation... in Edinburgh will be followed by a second performance at King’s Place, London, on September 29, 2012, before touring in 2013 to Amsterdam on March 21, Leeds (England) on March 23 and to Perth (Scotland) in April 2013. SDG is working to secure a US premiere.
For Soli Deo Gloria, this is not the first MacMillan collaboration. In June 2011, SDG brought MacMillan to the University of Chicago for the premiere of his commissioned choral work Alpha and Omega, premiered at Rockefeller Chapel by the Rockefeller Chapel Choir and the University of Chicago Motet, under the direction of James Kallembach. James MacMillan also serves as an Advisory Board member to Soli Deo Gloria.