James MacMillan, one of Scotland's most celebrated composers, talks about one of his most famous works, 'The Confession of Isobel Gowdie'. He outlines the story behind the music, describing the character of Isobel Gowdie and the events surrounding her death, when she was put to death as a witch. James contemplates whether or not it is important to understand the story when listening to the music. He also talks about the influence that religion has on his music. Features the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra rehearsing 'The Confession of Isobel Gowdie'.

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First broadcast:
28 September 2010

Engage the whole class in a discussion about music that tells a story. Does all music tell a story? Students could select some lyric-free pieces of classical music, listen to them and discuss what story they think the composer is trying to tell, and the techniques he or she is using to convey this.