Edinburgh International Festival Ticket Information





World Premiere
Since it was the Day of Preparation...
by James MacMillan
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Greyfriars Kirk
Edinburgh, Scotland
5:45 p.m.

Hebrides Ensemble
William Conway, cello and director

Photo: Sussie Ahlburg













Synergy Vocals


Brindley Sherratt, bass


Tickets: £20

Tickets are available online from
Edinburgh International Festival.

If you are planning on attending this world premiere, SDG would like to hear about it. Please drop us a note and let us know!


Other SDG collaborations with James MacMillan

Alpha and Omega: World premiere at Rockefeller Chapel, University of Chicago, June 2011.

Since it was the day of Preparation... : World premiere at the Edinburgh Festival, August 2012;  U.S. premiere at St. Bartholomew's Church (New York), May 2014.

St. Luke Passion: world premiere at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, March 2014; U.S. premiere at the Duke University Chapel (Durham, North Carolina), April 2014.

James MacMillan also serves on the Advisory Board of Soli Deo Gloria.

Anticipation Builds for MacMillan Premiere

James MacMillan, Photo: Philip Gatward

The August 2012 Edinburgh International Festival is a three-week extravaganza of the world's best in music, opera, theater and dance. And, this year, the Scotsman calls the world premiere of James MacMillan's "Since it was the Day of Preparation..."


Soli Deo Gloria is deeply honored to be a co-commissioner of this significant work, joining with the Edinburgh International Festival, the Hebrides Ensemble (who will be performing the premiere, along with Synergy Vocals and bass Brindley Sherrat), and Kings Place (where the work will receive its London premiere) to present this contemporary setting of "the greatest story ever told."

This eagerly awaited premiere, which is part of the Festival’s celebrated Greyfriars Series of early evening concerts, takes place on Wednesday, August 22, 2012, at the Greyfriars Kirk, performed by the Hebrides Ensemble, William Conway, director, Synergy Vocals and renowned bass Brindley Sherratt.



In anticipation of this event, we can think of no better prelude than to revisit some of MacMillan's previous works, and the words of the composer himself. James MacMillan is no doubt one of today’s most exciting contemporary composer and, across the breadth of his compositions, has consistently demonstrated his commitment to sacred music.


One of MacMillan's major works, the percussion concerto Veni, Veni, Emmanuel, has received more than 400 performances. This dramatic performance by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, with Evelyn Glennie, percussion, and Jukka-Pekka Saraste, conductor, highlights the beginning of three of the eight sections:

1. Advent
2. Heartbeats
3. Dance - Hocket





In contrast to the instrumental intensity ofVeni, Veni, MacMillan's Alpha and Omega, commissioned by SDG and premiered by the Rockefeller Chapel Choir and University of Chicago Motet (James Kallembach, conductor) features vocal intensity from an a cappella choir. Since its premiere in 2011, Alpha and Omega has been performed by several other ensembles, including The Crossing, Wheaton College Concert Choir, and, in this clip, by Augustana College Choir.




Another of MacMillan's compositional styles is the use plainsong-like phrases, punctuated by moments of silence (or time for a period of reverberation to subside), as demonstrated in this performance of MacMillan's anthem, Christus Vincit, by the Virginia Chorale, directed by Scott Williamson.






The "Kyrie" from MacMillian's Mass for two basses, chorus and organ, performed in this clip by Westminster Cathedral Choir (Martin Baker, conductor; Andrew Reid, organ) reflects MacMillan's love for the liturgical and his sense of how the mystical can interact with the music.





James MacMillan
Seven Last Words from the Cross
Click to hear an excerpt

While there are many other MacMillan works we could highlight (including his Seven Last Words from the Cross, which many consider to be his masterpiece), any overview of MacMillan's compositions must certainly include his St. John Passion, premiered in 2008 by the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Sir Colin Davis, conductor. Acclaimed as “a landmark for contemporary music” by Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, MacMillan’s interpretation of the 2,000-year old Passion narrative is one of his most significant works.






  James MacMillan
St. John Passion
Click to hear excerpts


"MacMillan has come up with a masterly work that has all the hallmarks of a 21st-century classic ... MacMillan is a master of ratcheting up the tension, building the drama, his subtle us of syncopation adding to the effect. But he can also turn his hand to the most lyrical, vulnerable music"—Musical America

"A blazing blockbuster, a piece as fiercely communicative as anything that the 48-year-old MacMillan has written before ... The end of Part ONe was mastrerly: no loudspeaker wailing as the Crucifixion loomed, but a resigned, pianissimo mediation, threaded with keening insturmental solos."—The Times (London)

“In the plethora of passions popping up these days, [MacMillan’s St. John Passion] one has to rank among the finest ... this is a piece you simply must hear if you have any interest in contemporary sacred orchestral and choral work.”—Classical FM Magazine

“My setting of the St. John Passion  takes the narrative right up to the death of Christ and then stops, but then I’ve always wondered what the rest of that passage would be like set to music . . . My passion setting is big, two choirs, quite a big orchestra and soloists, but my resurrection narrative is much smaller, and much more intimate—a handful of singers and a handful of instrumentals, so that the music goes away in a quite a different and unexpected direction. I didn't like the idea of 'bombast' with the resurrection; it's just too mysterious a thing for that, so it had to be approached in a different way. The resurrection is more of a mystery . . . more of a shock to the whole human system. It requires, therefore, a degree of deeper reflection."—James MacMillan

In the summer of 2011, when James MacMillan was in Chicago for the premiere of Alpha and Omega, he sat down with SDG's former President and CEO, Chandler Branch, to talk about composing Since it was the Day of Preparation...,  which was in process at the time.

James MacMillan on the process of composing Since it was the Day of Preperation...  










We hope this gives you a mouth-watering taste for the music of James MacMillan. Following the August 2012 world premiere of Since it was the Day of Preparation... in Edinburgh will be a second performance at Kings Place, London, on September 29, 2012, before touring in 2013 to Amsterdam on March 21, to Leeds (England) on March 23, and to Perth (Scotland) in April 2013. SDG is also working to secure a US premiere. We're looking forward to the day when a recording will be available so all can hear!

For further information about the commissioning of Since it was the Day of Preparation..., please visit our news article "SDG Co-Commissions Major New Work by James MacMillan." A press release is also available for download.