Why fum'th in fight
Fantasia on a theme of Thomas Tallis
Few living composers communicate with the emotional directness of James MacMillan, so the world premiere of his Stabat Mater will be a major occasion. Harry Christophers conducts Britten Sinfonia and The Sixteen, placing MacMillan in context with music from Tallis to Vaughan Williams.
For the composer, ’beauty is at the heart of our Christian faith’ and his new Stabat Mater is sure to be profoundly shaped by his beliefs. But this is a work with deep roots and a universal message; placed next to hauntingly emotional music by Tallis and his own Miserere, the Stabat Mater becomes a celebration both of tradition and of radical renewal.
Barbican Podcast: James MacMillan, the Scottish composer and conductor, whose Stabat Mater is featured in this concert talks about the new work and his life as a composer.
James MacMillan’s Stabat Mater has been commissioned by the Genesis Foundation for The Sixteen.
Norwich Pre-concert talk, 6.30pm: Harry Christophers discusses the programme (free to ticket holders)
"Throughout the many wrenching contrasts there's always a focused emotional thread"Read More
"MacMillan’s Stabat Mater is a sustained exploration of sorrow that has unlocked some of his most powerfully moving and bittersweet writing"Read More
"While passages of the choral writing are undeniably beautiful, often MacMillan’s response to the text involves something spikier, perhaps onomatopoeic"Read More
"This grief-wracked Stabat Mater is no easy listen, but then MacMillan clearly did not mean it so."Read More
"Macmillan has given universal expression to the despair of a mother in mourning in a work noble and solemn for our times."Read More
"Its stark but searing beauty is brilliantly illuminated by the powerfully nuanced voices of The Sixteen and the poetically rich accompaniment of the Britten Sinfonia, by turns cosseting and excoriating."Read More
"The Britten Sinfonia have tremendously incisive rhythmic bite – their jagged chords four minutes into the first section have almost percussive violence to them..."Read More
"It’s a devastatingly powerful evocation of Mary’s agony, balancing impassioned choral writing with equally intense, occasionally violent, work for the strings of the Britten Sinfonia."Read More
"At nearly an hour and with an accompanying score played by the Britten Sinfonia, this is a major piece and superbly performed."Read More
"It’s obvious that MacMillan’s music makes virtuoso demands on both the singers and the players but these artists meet this immense challenge head on and seem to leverage their performance off MacMillan’s music so as to give a visceral account of the work."Read More
"This is a setting which is alive to the personal drama of the text, and there are moments of real violence."Read More