Scottish Ensemble & Dunedin Consort: Seven Last Words
O crux benedicta
L’ombra della croce
Seven Last Words From The Cross
James MacMillan’s setting of the dying words of Jesus Christ is astonishing. Through moments of aching intensity, heart-rending beauty and raw, keening desolation, we 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.
Commissioned in 1994 by the BBC, Scottish Ensemble gave the premiere performance of the work on live television across the seven consecutive nights of Easter Week. More than two decades later, in its 50th anniversary year, SE will revisit the piece in collaboration with another leading Scottish group, Dunedin Consort.
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.
Scottish Ensemble (SE) is Scotland’s pioneering string orchestra; a collective of outstanding musicians, championing music for strings across Scotland, the UK and the world. Celebrating 50 years, across its 2019/20 Anniversary Season SE presents thought-provoking programmes and events that cross genres, styles, musical periods and art forms to shed new light on classical music - and the many ways it can be shared.
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.
Seven Last Words is supported by Resonate, a PRS Foundation initiative in partnership with Association of British Orchestras, BBC Radio 3 and Boltini Trust.