Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

Happy 60th Birthday!

James MacMillan discusses the birth of his political and religious views plus the writing of his Cello Concerto for Rostropovich and Veni Veni Emmanuel for Evelyn Glennie.

Sir James MacMillan is reflecting on his prolific life in composition as he celebrates his 60th birthday this week.

He discusses his regret at joining the Communist Party at the age of 14 because of the hurt it caused his grandfather. And his early search for some kind of fusion of Christian theology and Marxist philosophy, including the influence on his music of a radical movement that grew up in South America as a response to the widespread poverty and the ill-treatment of ordinary people.

He also remembers his friendship with Mstislav Rostropovich which led to the commissioning of his Cello Concerto, written at the time of the Dunblane shooting. And he describes the creation of his next great musical success: Veni, Veni Emmanuel – the percussion concerto he wrote for his friend Evelyn Glennie

For Ian
John York, piano

Cantos Sagrados (Identity)
The Elysian Singers
Carl Jackson, organ
Sam Laughton, conductor

The Reproaches, from Cello Concerto
Raphael Wallfisch, cello
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Osmo Vanska, conductor

Veni, Veni Emmanuel
Evelyn Glennie, percussion
Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Jukka Pekka Saraste, conductor

Presenter: Donald Macleod
Producer: Rosie Boulton

59 minutes

Music Played

  • Sir James MacMillan

    For Ian

    Performer: John York.
    • Black Box BBM1067.
    • Black Box.
    • 5.
  • Sir James MacMillan

    Cantos Sagrados: Identity

    Performer: The Elysian Singers Of London. Conductor: Sam Laughton. Performer: Carl Jackson.
    • Signum SKU SIGCD507.
    • Signum.
    • 6.
  • Sir James MacMillan

    Cello Concerto (2nd movement: The Reproaches)

    Performer: Raphael Wallfisch. Performer: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Osmo Vänskä.
    • BIS CD989.
    • BIS.
    • 3.
  • Sir James MacMillan

    Veni, Veni, Emmanuel for percussion and orchestra

    Performer: Evelyn Glennie. Orchestra: Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Conductor: Jukka‐Pekka Saraste.
    • Sony 88697579962.
    • Sony.
    • 1.


Composers A to Z

Composers A to Z

Visit the extensive audio archive of Radio 3 programmes about Composers and their works.

Who knew? Five eye-opening stories from Composer of the Week

Who knew? Five eye-opening stories from Composer of the Week

The production team reflects on 5 of Donald Macleod’s best stories from the last 20 years

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

The composer of Jerusalem was very far from the conservative figure his image suggests.

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

What is the strange power of Jerusalem which makes strong men weep?

Composer Help Page

Composer Help Page

Find resources and contacts for composers from within the classical music industry.