Repim—with The Philadelphia Orchestra and conductor Charles
Dutoit—performs the New York premiere of Scottish composer James
MacMillan's Violin Concerto on March
1. The next night, MacMillan is the focus and the star of Making
Music: James MacMillan—when he will be on hand for a a full program
of his work and to discuss his music with Carnegie Hall Director of
Artistic Planning Jeremy Geffen.
He takes time out from his preparations to answer some questions
posed by Carnegie Hall.
Carnegie Hall: Many people, in describing your
musical output, and have slotted you into various categories—Scottish
and Catholic, to name a few. How do you see yourself?
James MacMillan: I see myself as a composer! First
and foremost, that is the most important thing. I am also Scottish, a
Catholic, a father, a husband, a grandfather, a Glasgow Celtic fan, etc.
CH: Can you tell us about your collaboration on Raising
Sparks with poet Michael Symmons Roberts?
JM: Michael and I have been good friends for many
years, and many of our collaborations grow naturally out of our
conversations. However, the poems of Raising Sparks were
written before I met him, so it was just a case of me setting his words.
It turned out to be the first of many collaborations between us.
CH: Your Violin Concerto receives its New York
premiere on March
1 with The Philadelphia Orchestra and Vadim Repin. How is composing
for purely instrumental music different than composing for voice?
JM: When there are no words to set, a composer's
mind has to return to his abstract instincts. But musical sounds are the
natural first language of musicians, so it doesn't matter that there
are no words.
CH: When writing, do you have a standard work
practice, or is it different every time?
JM: Every new piece feels different. Therefore,
there is never a standard feeling about anything I do. I prefer it that
way. My work is in a wide range of specifications, and so there is
continual variety and freshness in my work practice, or so it feels.
CH: Have you ever been to Carnegie Hall?
JM: I've never been before! I am excited about my
CH: Thank you, James. We're excited to welcome you