Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Pittsburgh Abuzz with Musical Spectaculars

The following notes by Resonance Works/Pittsburgh conductor Maria Sensi Sellner announce what should be a magical weekend of music by composer James MacMillan. Tickets are still available for this highly anticipated series of concerts.

Ms. Sensi Sellner - When I was a grad student studying composition at Carnegie Mellon, my professor introduced  me to a piece entitled Veni, Veni Emmanuel - a percussion concerto written for the amazing 
Evelyn Glennie and based on the traditional French chant for Advent.  I instantly fell in love with 
its bold orchestral colors, visceral rhythmic intensity, and vivid soundscape.

As I continued to delve into the music of James MacMillan, I discovered a brilliant wealth of riches - music 
infused with passion, ritual, and immense creativity, with the great capacity to take the listener on a spiritual journey.  He made a major mark on the international music scene in 1990 with The Confession of Isobel 
Gowdie, an orchestral piece written as a Requiem for a woman burnt for being a witch in post-Reformation Scotland. Its premiere at the Proms in London received "an ovation the like of  which had rarely been seen at a British premiere since the death of Benjamin Britten"  

Veni, Veni Emmanuel followed in 1992, and has since become one of the most performed works of 
the late 20th century, with nearly 500 performances by the world's major orchestras. Beyond 
these orchestral works is a prolific and continuing output of vibrant choral music, chamber music and opera.  

Several years ago, when I heard that MacMillan had written a Gloria, I sent for a score and have been looking for an opportunity to perform the piece ever since. It premiered in June 2012 commemorating the 50th anniversary of both the new Coventry Cathedral and Britten’s War  Requiem, which had premiered at the 1962 consecration of the cathedral.

James MacMillan
Like Britten, MacMillan writes for tenor soloist, children’s voices, and organ, along with choir and brass.  
When I learned that he would be the Composer of the Year for the Pittsburgh Symphony this season, I knew this was the perfect time to perform this work here in Pittsburgh.

I am thrilled that Resonance Works will present the American premiere of MacMillan's Gloria next week, and that we may share the wonderful music of one of my favorite composers with you!  

Our performances of Excelsis on February 9 & 11 are presented in coordination with the Pittsburgh Symphony and their Feb 10 & 12 concerts which include Veni Veni Emmanuel.  We hope you will enjoy a weekend of MacMillan: Discover the piece that I first fell in love with at the PSO, and then join us in Shadyside for four of his more recent works. The composer himself will join us on Saturday, February 11.

Thursday, February 9 @ 8 pm
Saturday, February 11 @ 8 pm For tickets, phone (412) 501-3330 or Excelsis

MacMillan - Cecilia Virgo
MacMillan - Seraph
Vaughan Williams - Flos Campi
MacMillan - Tota pulchra es
Verdi - Ave Maria
Hovhaness - Prayer of St. Gregory
MacMillan - Gloria
The U.S. Premiere! 

Neal Berntsen, trumpet
Jason Hohn, viola
George Milosh, tenor
Russell Weismann, organ
Youth choir with members of the Pittsburgh Youth Chorus
Resonance Chamber Orchestra &
Festival Chorus
Maria Sensi Sellner, conductor

Third Presbyterian Church
5701 Fifth Avenue, Shadyside

Make it a weekend of MacMillan

MacMillan: Veni, Veni Emmanuel
Colin Currie, percussion

Friday, Feb. 10 at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 12 at 2:30 p.m.

For tickets, call 412.392.4900 or visit

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