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Many believe that James MacMillan is the most significant composer of our day. Written for string orchestra and choir, Seven Last Words from the Cross is a dramatic powerhouse of brilliant musical writing. It was commissioned by BBC Television and first screened in seven nightly episodes during Holy Week 1994. It was performed by Cappella Nova and the BT Scottish Ensemble under Alan Tavener. The traditional text is based on a compilation from all four gospels to form a sequential presentation of the last seven sentences uttered by Christ.

“ […] highly original conception with the composer’s fertile imagination stamped all over it. […] the work is terse, dark and deeply emotional, yet for all its crude depiction of total suffering, the listener is left with a spiritual fulfillment of intense gratitude and joy. This is music where one must be prepared to suffer in silence if he wants to grasp and appreciate the immense beauty of Macmillan’s stupendous creation.”


“[Seven Last Words] is probably MacMillan’s masterpiece… the maturity in this composition is astounding: the tonal structure of the seven settings, harmony which can be spare or lush without ever being overwritten, an inexorable sense of the drama in the text, the balance between voice and strings.”

— The Guardian

Types of Music
Event Info
  • Fri, Mar 29, 2024, 7:00 pm
  • Basilica of Our Lady Immaculate
  • 28 Norfolk Street
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