Press Coverage

World premiere of James MacMillan’s 5th Symphony Le grand Inconnu in Edinburgh

22 August 2019

Le grand Inconnu, a large-scale choral symphony by James MacMillan was performed by the work’s dedicatees Harry Christophers and The Sixteen, alongside members of Genesis Sixteen, and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall on Saturday 17 August as part of the Edinburgh International Festival. Below are reviews of the world premiere, as well as reviews of the album, released on CORO in April 2020.

“The Sixteen excel in this ambitious choral writing and they are well supported on this disc by soprano Mary Bevan, the Genesis Sixteen and Britten Sinfonia under conductor Harry Christophers.”

-Financial Times (☆☆☆☆☆), read here.

“MacMillan’s musical imagination is so fecund and fervent that listeners of every belief or none can feel at home.”

-The Times (☆☆☆☆), read here.

“the whole symphony pulls quietly towards consonance and a vast, cumulative sense of affirmation.”

-The Spectator, read here.

“MacMillan has created a spiritual symphony for today…shining a light on the elemental things we need for humanity to survive.”

-Bachtrack (☆☆☆☆☆), read here.

“music of astonishing beauty and clarity, and it was impeccably performed.”

-The Arts Desk (☆☆☆☆☆), read here.

“Beautiful sounds and precision abounded.”

-The Times (☆☆☆☆), read here.

“It opens with the choir breathing softly, followed tonelessly by the wind instruments, as if the breath of God is emerging from an eternal silence.”

-Financial Times (☆☆☆☆), read here.

“MacMillan’s writing for voices is utterly assured – a reminder that this has become his medium.”

-The Guardian (☆☆☆☆), read here.

“there was no mistaking the outflow of ecstatic passion that drove the compositional process.”

-The Scotsman (☆☆☆☆), read here.


John was also interviewed by The Herald ahead of the concert.