Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

A dawn, a community and a ring

MacMillan considers his connection with his listeners and the process of composition. He reveals his childhood entrancement with Wagner's Ring, which continues today.

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

He considers his connection with his listeners and the importance of hearing stories from audiences about their reactions to his music. With this in mind, he’s made a habit of writing music for the communities in which he lives. He also describes the daily habit of composition and the need to sometimes allow the creative process to rest.

James encountered Wagner's Ring Cycle as a child. He was entranced by this music and happily remains under its spell today.

O Radiant Dawn, from Strathclyde Motets
The Sixteen
Harry Christophers, conductor

Miserere
The Sixteen
Harry Christophers, conductor

Oboe Concerto
Nicholas Daniel, oboe
Britten Sinfonia
James MacMillan, conductor

Mal: I cannot say I haven’t dreamt a 1,000 times of killing him (Act 3 Scene 3 from The Sacrifice)
Orchestra and Chorus of Welsh National Opera
Anthony Negus, conductor

Presenter: Donald Macleod
Producer: Rosie Boulton

59 minutes

Music Played

  • Sir James MacMillan

    O Radiant Dawn (Strathclyde Motets)

    Choir: The Sixteen. Conductor: Harry Christophers.
    • CORO : 16096.
    • CORO.
    • 5.
  • Sir James MacMillan

    Miserere for chorus

    Choir: The Sixteen. Conductor: Harry Christophers.
    • CORO : 16096.
    • CORO.
    • 1.
  • Sir James MacMillan

    Oboe Concerto

    Performer: Nicholas Daniel. Orchestra: Britten Sinfonia. Conductor: Sir James MacMillan.
    • Harmonia Mundi HMU807573.
    • Harmonia Mundi.
    • 5.
  • Sir James MacMillan

    The Sacrifice: Act III, Scene 3

    Performer: Michael Symmons Roberts. Ensemble: Chorus And Orchestra Of Welsh National Opera. Conductor: Anthony Negus.
    • Chandos CHAN 10572.
    • Chandos.
    • 15.

Broadcast

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.