Scottish Composer James MacMillan Leads Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in His Own Works, Beethoven's Symphony No. 2, April 3-6
British pianist Rolf Hind replaces Wayne Marshall as soloist for MacMillan's Piano Concerto No. 2; program remains unchanged
Baltimore, Md. (February 28, 2008)-Led by Scottish composer and conductor James MacMillan, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will perform two of his works, April 3 at the Music Center at Strathmore and April 4-6 at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore. On the program are MacMillan's Stomp (with Fate and Elvira) and Piano Concerto No. 2, featuring British pianist Rolf Hind. Hind replaces Wayne Marshall who was originally scheduled to perform the piano concerto. Beethoven's Symphony No. 2 will conclude this program. These concerts are part of the BSO's 2007-2008 "Year of the Composer," featuring works by 11 contemporary composers, paired with all nine Beethoven symphonies. MacMillan will also participate in Composers in Conversation, Wednesday, April 2 at 7:30 p.m. at Theatre Project. Ticket holders are encouraged to attend this advance enrichment experience to hear insights from the composer. See below for complete program information.
With more than 150 works to his name, James MacMillan is one of today's most successful contemporary composers. Born in working-class Ayshire, Scotland, MacMillan's compositions reflect his Scottish heritage, his Roman Catholic faith and his political and social beliefs. The Times of London described his compositions as "pieces [that] shout of revolution, liberation, resurrection … Fiery and humanitarian in tone… [they] somehow speak to thousands who are normally impervious to the discordant charms of 'modern music.'"
Commissioned for the 25th anniversary of the Barbican Centre of London, Stomp (with Fate and Elvira) combines the brass fanfare from Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony and the slow movement of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 with a Celtic jig for an original sound. The Financial Times imagined the work as "Mozart and Tchaikovsky in kilts, thrown into the middle of a highland fling." A longtime proponent of MacMillan's work, BSO Music Director Marin Alsop gave the U.S. premiere Stomp last summer at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in California where she serves as Music Director. In his program notes, MacMillan explains the premise of this work: "The dark, brooding cloud of Fate that had been hovering over St. Petersburg lifted and drifted west to Sweden, where it made an amorous encounter with a young tightrope walker, Elvira Madigan. They eloped and headed west."
Commissioned by the New York City Ballet in 2004, MacMillan's Piano Concerto No. 2 carries a dark subtext amidst the Scottish jigs and reels. MacMillan drew inspiration from the self-destructive elements in Scottish history, as depicted in the poem by Edwin Muir's "Scotland 1941." The poem is an allegory of a carrion crow scavenging on the corpse of a once-beautiful culture. The work begins as a Scottish celebration with merry jigs and graceful melodies, but slides into the country's tragic downfall as the jigs take on a frenetic pace.
As part of the BSO's programming of the complete Beethoven symphony cycle, this program concludes with Beethoven's Symphony No. 2. Written in 1802, the same year he descended into total deafness and penned the devastating Heiligenstadt Testament, his Second Symphony is surprisingly light-hearted and energetic.
James MacMillan, conductor and composer
James MacMillan is one of today's most successful living composers, also internationally active as a conductor. His musical language is flooded with influences from his Scottish heritage, his Roman Catholic faith, social conscience and close connection with Celtic folk music, blended together with influences from Far Eastern, Scandinavian and Eastern European music.
Mr. MacMillan first became internationally recognized after the extraordinary success of The Confession of Isobel Gowdie at the BBC Proms in 1990. His prolific output has since been performed and broadcast around the world, placing him in the front rank of today's composers.
Mr. MacMillan is much in demand internationally as a conductor. Recent guest conducting successes include the London Symphony Orchestra's premiere of A Deep but Dazzling Darkness and concerts with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, NHK Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony and Melbourne Symphony.
Highlights of his 2007-2008 season include conducting the world premiere of his new opera The Sacrifice with Welsh National Opera at the Wales Millennium Centre, followed by further performances across the UK. Another major premiere of this season is his St. John Passion, to be premiered by the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Colin Davis, co-commissioned by the Concertgebouw Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra and Rundfunkchor Berlin. This season he will make his conducting debut with the Munich Philharmonic. He is also the 2008 Artistic Director of the RTE Living Music Festival.
Rolf Hind, piano
Born in London and now living there after studies at the Royal College of Music, Rolf Hind's career has many facets. He appears regularly at new music festivals throughout Europe, is in demand as a soloist with all the major BBC orchestras and plays regularly with the London Sinfonietta. He has also made numerous appearances with the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Munich Radio Orchestra, Junge Deutsche Philharmonie, the Southwest German Radio Orchestra, the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Chamber Orchestra and the Slovenian Radio Philharmonic. Recently he has performed concertos by Thomas Agerfeldt Olesen, Roger Smalley and Lou Harrison, and worked with high calibre conductors including Vladimir Ashkenazy, Sir Simon Rattle, Leonard Slatkin, Andrew Davis, Markus Stenz, Oliver Knussen and Franz Welser-Möst. He was chosen to give a recital as part of the South Bank Centre's Xenakis Weekend and was specially requested by Elliot Carter to play at the BBC Barbican Weekend with a program of the composer's choice.
Mr. Hind has also developed a growing reputation as a composer. His piano pieces and a chamber work, The Horse Sacrifice, have been broadcast by the BBC. Recent commissions include Eye of Fire, which he played with The Duke Quartet and Sunnata for five pianos and one honky-tonk. His piano concerto Maya-Sesha, commissioned by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, premiered last March.
Mr. Hind teaches chamber music and composition for the piano at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and is a regular teacher at Dartington International Summer School. He was artistic director of the Society for the Promotion of New Music for the last two years. He is also the Chairman of International Society for Contemporary Music in Britain.
COMPLETE PROGRAM INFORMATION
Composers in Conversation, hosted by Dale Keiger
Wednesday, April 2, 2008 at 7:30 p.m. -Theatre Project
Tickets for this event are $10 and may be purchased through the BSO Ticket Office, 877.BSO.1444 or 410.783.8000, or BSOmusic.org.
PNC Explorer Series: The British Isles
Thursday, April 3, 2008 - 8:00 p.m. The Music Center at Strathmore
Friday, April 4, 2008 - 8:00 p.m. Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (JMSH)
Saturday, April 5, 2008 - 8:00 p.m. JMSH
Sunday, April 6, 2008 - 3:00 p.m. JMSH
James MacMillan, conductor
Rolf Hind, piano*
James MacMillan: Stomp (with Fate and Elvira)
James MacMillan: Piano Concerto No. 2
Beethoven: Symphony No. 2
*Rolf Hind replaces Wayne Marshall, previously scheduled to perform on this program, due to scheduling conflicts.
Special anniversary pricing at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall is made possible by generous underwriting from the PNC Foundation.
Tickets for these concerts range from $15 to $84 and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 877.BSO.1444 or 410.783.8000, or BSOmusic.org.