Skip to content

New Culture Forum – So What You’re Saying Is: Sir James Macmillan: Scotland’s Great Composer on his Influences: Faith, Heritage & Tradition


September 27,2019 upload

This was interesting


Sir James MacMillan is one of today’s most successful 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.

In this interview Sir James recounts the guilt he felt about about toying with communism in his youth, composing his first piece of music at the age of 10, and the importance to his life played by sacred music.

He holds that unlike other areas of art, music contains a spirituality not found in paintings or the spoken word. Thus, there is an acknowledgement and openmindedness among musicians of music’s Judeo-Christian heritage/origins. This is something he feels many in the wider artistic world find perplexing and difficult to understand or accept. Consequently there is an assumption that one’s political allegiances must be broader left politically.

He touches on the Scottish Referendum which, whilst not initially a Left-Right divide, has since seen the nationalist side become very left wing and anti-English.

On the broader subject of philosophy, he mentions the derision and almost chilling response received to comments he made about the philosophy underscoring much classical music — in particular, when he had occasion to quote Sir Roger Scruton.

Sir James also laments the chance encounters the public might have with classical music are on the wane. Sir James and other musicians he knows first discovered classical music on BBC 1 etc. Yet today those opportunities are few and far between if not forever removed.

He feels this is particularly regrettable given the strong position in which British classical music currently finds itself — especially in comparison with the “top down culture” that drives current German and French classical music, and which the public finds hard to relate to.




Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: