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The St Petersburg Philharmonia has announced James MacMillan as Composer in Residence for its 2021/22 season, with a series of Russian premieres across three concerts including a final programme conducted by the composer.

James MacMillan is Composer in Residence with the St Petersburg Philharmonia this season, launched with a programme on 27 November in the Philharmonia’s Great Hall. The three concert project is part of the international UK-Russia Creative Bridge 2021-2022 programme, supported by the Department of Culture and Education of the British Embassy in Moscow. The Academic Symphony Orchestra of the St Petersburg Philharmonia under Alexander Titov performs the Russian premieres of MacMillan’s orchestral fantasy overture Britannia and of the Larghetto in its orchestral version drawn from the much-performed Miserere, together with music by Borodin and Prokofieff.

On 18 December, within the XXI ‘Arts Square’ International Winter Festival, the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Vassily Sinaisky plays the Russian premiere of MacMillan's Ein Lämplein verlosch in its recent arrangement for string orchestra. The program also features Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No.1 with soloist Vadim Repin and Brahms’ Symphony No.3.

The final concert on 5 February sees MacMillan travelling to St Petersburg to conduct the orchestra in a concert combining his own works with those of Tchaikovsky and Prokofieff. The programme includes the Russian premiere of his 2017 Saxophone Concerto and the first St Petersburg performance of The Confession of Isobel Gowdie, the work which launched the composer’s career in 1990 and has received over 180 performances around the world since.

James MacMillan has had a long relationship with Russian music and performing organisations. He has been greatly influenced by composers ranging from Shostakovich to Gubaidulina and Ustvolskaya, and is fascinated by music from the region together with that from Eastern Europe. The St Petersburg Philharmonic gave the first Russian performance of his music back in 1994 under the baton of Martyn Brabbins. The years leading up to the pandemic saw first performances in Russia of Veni, Veni, Emmanuel with percussionist Evelyn Glennie, the Violin Concerto with Vadim Repin and the Russian National Orchestra, and The Sun Danced with performers from the Gnessin Russian Academy of Music.

As well as the launch of the St Petersburg residency, the coming weeks bring the first UK perfomances of his largest-scale recent work, the Christmas Oratorio with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir under Mark Elder at the Southbank Centre and Saffron Hall.

>  Further information on Work: The Confession of Isobel Gowdie

Photo: Marc Marnie

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