The Scottish Ensemble and Dunedin Consort are touring across Scotland and heading to London, to perform Sir James MacMillan’s landmark work.
Performances will take place in Inverness, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and London between 26 and 31 March, where audiences will experience an intense one-hour performance in spectacular venues, including one of the first concerts in the V&A Dundee.
Seven Last Words from the Cross is Sir James MacMillan’s setting of the dying words of Jesus Christ. Commissioned in 1994 by the BBC, the Scottish Ensemble gave the premiere performance of the work on live television across the seven consecutive nights of Easter Week that year.
More than two decades later the Scottish Ensemble revisits the piece in its 50th anniversary year in collaboration with another leading Scottish group, Dunedin Consort, in Inverness, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and London.
The tour is supported by Resonate, a PRS Foundation initiative in partnership with Association of British Orchestras, BBC Radio 3 and Boltini Trust.
Audiences are invited to enjoy moments of aching intensity, heart-rending beauty and raw, keening desolation, as they are guided through an experience that somehow manages to feel both intensely personal, and magnificently universal.
Vivid and alive with the composer’s distinctive style, strings combine with voices to create a truly chilling, brutal, beautiful, transcendent piece of music that boldly reaches out to its listener, whatever their beliefs.
The engrossing intensity and sheer emotional weight of MacMillan’s landmark work is one of its most precious qualities; across 45 minutes, the listener is offered not so much a depiction of a religious scene, but the sense of a transformative experience that lingers long after the final note sounds. To capture and honour its power, this hour-long concert centres around this singular work, offering it the space it requires and deserves.
Jonathan Morton, Scottish Ensemble’s artistic director, said: ‘Performing The Seven Last Words is always a special occasion. When unleashed in a live performance, the power contained within the story and the music tends to induce deeply moving emotional experiences in performers and audiences alike.
‘More than 25 years after Scottish Ensemble first performed this masterpiece by James Macmillan, we are delighted to bring this unique live experience to audiences in Scotland and London.’
John Butt, Dunedin Consort’s artistic director, said: ‘I’ve seldom had the opportunity to celebrate the strength of Scottish music so comprehensively.
‘Obviously, I’m used to Dunedin Consort in all its various wonderful forms, but add to this Scotland’s premier string ensemble to perform one of the finest works of Scotland’s leading composer, and I feel a particular thrill to be working in such a vibrant community.’
Dunedin Consort is one of the world’s leading Baroque ensembles, recognised for its vivid and insightful performances and recordings which aim to make early music relevant to the present day. Under the direction of John Butt, the ensemble has won two coveted Gramophone Awards – for the 2007 recording of Handel’s Messiah and the 2014 recording of Mozart’s Requiem.
Scottish Ensemble is the UK’s leading string orchestra; a core of outstanding string players who perform together under Artistic Director Jonathan Morton. Based in Glasgow, Scotland, SE inspires audiences in the UK and beyond with vibrant performances which are powerful, challenging and rewarding experiences, crossing genres, styles, musical periods and artistic forms to offer fresh perspectives on classical music.
Dates, times and venues are:
Thursday 26 March at 7.30pm. Inverness Cathedral. Book online: http://bit.ly/2WVt8tW or call 01463 234 234.
Friday, 27 March at 8pm. Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh. Book online: http://bit.ly/2FkkgrI or call 0131 668 2019.
Saturday, 28 March, at 7.30pm. Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow. Book online: http://bit.ly/2ZyJdqR or call 0141 332 5057.
Sunday, 29 March, at 8pm. V&A, Dundee. Book online: http://bit.ly/2IN3svw or call 01382 434 940.
Tuesday, 31 March, at 7.30pm. Milton Court, London. Book online: http://bit.ly/2Kt2oPu or call 020 7638 8891.