MacMillan Composes New Choral Work for Cincinnati May Festival at 150
The world premiere of James MacMillan’s Timotheus, Bacchus and Cecilia opens the 150th Cincinnati May Festival.
On May 19, James MacMillan’s Timotheus, Bacchus, and Cecilia receives its world premiere at the May Festival with May Festival Chorus, May Festival Youth Chorus, and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, all led by May Festival Principal Conductor Juanjo Mena.
Timotheus, Bacchus, and Cecilia opens the 150th May Festival. MacMillan has previously served as a May Festival Creative Partner, with works such as Seven Last Words from the Cross and Credo having been presented at the festival in recent years.
MacMillan’s new work is a setting of John Dryden’s 1697 poem Alexander’s Feast: Or The Power of Music, an ode to St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music. The poem demonstrates the power of music through a series of allegories. Timotheus the musician is seen as a great influence on Alexander the Great, whose music supposedly raises the power of Alexander to the heavens. This is juxtaposed by the music of St. Cecilia, whose music is so powerful it tempts angels to descend to earth.
MacMillan comments on the relevance of the poem today:
“Although this poem is of another time and dimension I was struck by its breadth and ambition to explore the transformative nature of music from a number of different angles. And its final suggestion that music might be a sacred thing, of heavenly concerns, is an idea which will never fade, being as vital now as it was in the eras of Timotheus, Alexander, Cecilia, Dryden and Handel, who also set this poem to music in 1736.”
Following the May 19 premiere, another large-scale MacMillan work, Fiat Lux, receives its world premiere on June 15-17 with soprano Elissa Johnston, baritone Christopher Maltman, Pacific Chorale, Pacific Symphony Orchestra, and Carl St. Clair.
Friday, May 19 at 7:30pm ET
Music Hall | Cincinnati, OH
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
May Festival Chorus
May Festival Youth Chorus
Juanjo Mena, conductor
Berit Norbakken, soprano
Nola Richardson, soprano
Marianne Beate Kielland, mezzo-soprano
Toby Spence, tenor
Christian Immler, bass
JAMES MACMILLAN Timotheus, Bacchus and Cecilia (World Premiere)
JAMES LEE III Breaths of Universal Longings (World Premiere)
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH Magnificat
> Further information on Work: Timotheus, Bacchus and Cecilia
Photo: Marc Marnie