His Stabat Mater, given its world premiere at the Barbican (15 Oct), will be something of an occasion, attracting those at the heart of the musical establishment, and the piece marks a new episode in a continuing project that invites composers to set a traditional text.
The Stabat Mater in the Christian church reflects on the sorrow of Mary at the Crucifixion, but it has a universality that extends far beyond its religious origins to the plight of all women who are confronted with the suffering of a child. This serious subject, however, can yield music of great serenity and consolation. A Roman Catholic himself, "Beauty is at the heart of our Christian faith," he says.
MacMillan has already set a number of religious texts to great acclaim. His St Luke Passion was given its London premiere at the Barbican to great acclaim last year.
Also on this programme of uplifting music is MacMillan's ethereal and confident Miserere and Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis, written in 1910, first performed in Gloucester Cathedral at the Three Choirs Festival and based on a theme written in 1567, "Why fum'th in fight". The original Tallis piece is also performed in its own right at the Barbican.
Harry Christophers conducts The Sixteen and Britten Sinfonia, and the concert is preceded by a conversation at 6:15PM between MacMillan, Christophers, the early music specialist Jeffrey Skidmore, and the American-born British investment banker, philanthropist and patron of the arts John Studzinski, who has funded the Stabat Mater composition project.
|What||James MacMillan's Stabat Mater, Barbican|
Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS | MAP
|Nearest tube||Barbican (underground)|
On 15 Oct 16, 7:30 PM – 9:45 PM
|Price||£15 - £40|
|Website||Click here for further information and booking|