Edinburgh International Festival Ticket Information



World Premiere
Since it was the Day of Preparation...
by James MacMillan

Hebrides Ensemble
William Conway, cello and director
Synergy Vocals
Brindley Sherratt, bass

Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh, Scotland
5:45 p.m.

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!


MacMillan Interviews

James MacMillan on his new setting of the resurrection story.


James MacMillan on the necessity of silence to the process of composing.


James MacMillan on the rewards of being a composer.


James MacMillan on how to listen to new music.

Other MacMillan Works

Seven Last Words from the Cross

Click to hear an excerpt.








St. John Passion

Click to hear an excerpt.








University of Chicago choirs performing the premiere of Alpha and Omega, Photo: Megan Dulkinsy

Click to hear excerpts..

SDG Co-Commissions Major New Work by James MacMillan on the Resurrection

James MacMillan, Photo: Philip Gatward

In an exciting intercontinental collaboration, Soli Deo Gloria has partnered with the Hebrides Ensemble (Scotland’s premier new-music group), the Edinburgh International Festival, and Kings Place (London’s award-winning destination for the music and the arts) to commission a major new work by leading Scotland composer James MacMillan.









  Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh

On Wednesday, August 22, 2012, the world will have a chance to hear the result, appropriately titled with the line that begins the resurrection story in The Gospel of John: "Since it was the Day of Preparation..." (John 19:31). The Hebrides Ensemble and Synergy Vocals, under the artistic direction of William Conway, with bass Brindley Sherratt portraying Christ, will present the world premiere at Greyfriars Kirk as part of the 2012 Edinburgh International Festival.

Since it was the Day of Preparation... is, in many ways, a natural culmination of James MacMillan’s lifelong interest in the crucifixion and resurrection narratives. Upon completion of his Seven Last Words from the Cross (see sidebar to hear an excerpt), which is regarded by many as his masterpiece, MacMillan said, “After writing my Seven Last Words from the Cross in 1993, I always knew that the inevitable next step would be a setting of one of the Gospel Passion narratives. It has since been my ambition to tackle such a project.” (Excerpt from the composer’s notes for the world premiere of the St. John Passion.)

The resulting St. John Passion (see sidebar to hear an excerpt) for chorus, orchestra and solo baritone was given its world premiere in April 2008 by the London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis conducting. It was MacMillan’s largest work to date.


"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

Yet James MacMillan had also long wanted to set the rest of the biblical story to music:

“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….This is a great story, the “greatest story ever told,” some people say, so whether one sees it as a divine story or essentially a human one, that’s up to the listener, but if the listener is engaged by the possibility of having their thoughts and musical life transformed by the music, then that’s my ideal listener.”—James MacMillan (in conversation with William Conway; click to watch the complete interview.)

When asked why there are so many pieces that meditate on the death of Christ and so few that focus on the resurrection story, MacMillan responded:


"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 conversation with Chandler branch, SDG's former CEO; see sidebar to watch the complete interview)

William Conway, Artist Director & cellist, Hebrides Ensemble  

MacMillan’s completed setting of the resurrection narrative, Since it Was the Day of Preparation..., is dedicated to William Conway, cellist and artistic director of Hebrides Ensemble. The work will be a showcase for outstanding chamber musicians. Scored for a small chamber ensemble and singers, with just five instrumentalists and five singers, it will be performed by Hebrides Ensemble and Synergy Vocals, featuring bass Brindley Sherratt, under the artistic direction of William Conway. The line-up of instruments is very unusual (clarinet, French horn, cello, harp and theorbo with soprano, alto, tenor and bass, plus bass soloist) and throughout the piece, MacMillan writes interludes where each of the five instrumentalists have solo moments of real virtuosity.






  Hebrides Ensemble

The Hebrides Ensemble is "one of the most innovative and thrilling ensembles in Europe” (The Scotsman) and is committed to supporting new composers and commissioning new works (see sidebar). James MacMillan says of William Conway, the group’s director and cellist, and a long-time friend, “I have always had great respect for all he has done in chamber music. To combine his players with voices was an extra special attraction.”

William Conway, in turn, describes MacMillan’s work as “music and drama of real depth from a master craftsman … One of the things I really like about the writing is the tremendous power and beauty combined.”





therorbo: a long-necked lute  

The August 2012 world premiere of MacMillan’s Since it was the Day of Preparation... in Edinburgh will be followed by a second performance at King’s Place, London, on September 29, 2012, before touring in 2013 to Amsterdam on March 21, Leeds (England) on March 23 and to Perth (Scotland) in April 2013. SDG is working to secure a US premiere.

For Soli Deo Gloria, this is not the first MacMillan collaboration. In June 2011, SDG brought MacMillan to the University of Chicago for the premiere of his commissioned choral work Alpha and Omega (see sidebar to hear excerpts), premiered at Rockefeller Chapel by the Rockefeller Chapel Choir and the University of Chicago Motet, under the direction of James Kallembach. James MacMillan also serves as an Advisory Board member to Soli Deo Gloria.





  Synergy Vocals: From left to right: Tom Bullard (baritone), Heather Cairncross (alto), Micaela Haslam (soprano), Andrew Busher (tenor)


"...a composer so confident of his own musical language that he makes it instantly communicative to his listeners." — The Guardian 





James MacMillan, Photo: Hans van der Woerd  

James MacMillan is one of today’s most successful living composers and is also internationally active as a conductor. His musical language is flooded with influences from his Scottish heritage, Catholic faith, social conscience and close connection with Celtic folk music, blended with influences from Far Eastern, Scandinavian and Eastern European music.

His prolific output has since been performed and broadcast around the world, placing him in the front rank of today’s composers. His major works include percussion concerto Veni, Veni, Emmanuel, which has received more than 400 performances, a cello concerto for Mstislav Rostropovich, large scale choral-orchestral work Quickening, and three symphonies. Major works also include his St John Passion, co-commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra, Concertgebouw Orchestra, Boston Symphony and Rundfunkchor Berlin; his Violin Concerto, co-commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Concertgebouw Zaterdag Matinee and the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris; his Piano Concerto No. 2 first performed with choreography by Christopher Wheeldon at New York City Ballet; his Piano Concerto No. 3, Mysteries of Light for the Minnesota Orchestra; and Clemency, a one-act opera performed by Britten Sinfonia at the Royal Opera House.

MacMillan’s work is programmed around the world by such noted orchestras as the London Symphony Orchestra, the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony and the Cleveland Orchestra. His interpreters include soloists Evelyn Glennie, Wayne Marshall and Colin Currie; and conductors Leonard Slatkin, John Nelson, Mstislav Rostropovich, Sir Colin Davis, Sir Andrew Davis and Osmo Vänskä. 

Currently, MacMillan serves as Principal Guest Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Kamer Filharmonie, following nine years as Composer/Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic. He is also Associate Composer for Orchestral Ensemble de Paris. Mr. MacMillan is published exclusively by Boosey & Hawkes. (Click to read MacMillan's complete biography.)

Through worldwide performances and an extensive discography, MacMillan’s music, which is celebrated for its spiritual and emotional power, has achieved a broad following rare among modern composers. James MacMillan continually demonstrates, across the breadth of his compositions, his commitment to sacred music. His faith informs his whole outlook on life and music.

“I think that lots of people, regardless of what they believe, if they are lovers of music, think of [music] as the most spiritual art-form, and I think that's absolutely true … I'm just another of those people involved in that journey to discover, or rediscover, the sacred in our world through music.”—James MacMilllan (in an interview with Rebecca Tavener, co-founder of Cappella Nova)