Bach festival to premiere new requiem by Sir James MacMillan

Sir James MacMillan conducting

One of the important milestones of his year’s Oregon Bach Festival will be a major world premiere of a requiem composed especially for the festival by the acclaimed Scottish composer and conductor Sir James MacMillan.

“A European Requiem,” along with J.S. Bach’s “Magnificat,” will be conducted at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 2, by festival artistic director Matthew Halls in the Silva Concert Hall at The Hult Center for the Performing Arts. Ticket prices range from $20 to $55 and $10 for students.

“A European Requiem” is written for full orchestra and chorus. For the world premiere, 65 orchestral musicians and a chorus of 54 will perform. Soloists include Amanda Forsythe, soprano; Sherezade Panthaki, soprano; Christopher Ainslie, countertenor; and Nicholas Phan, tenor. The concert will feature the Berwick Chorus of the Oregon Bach Festival and the Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra.

The public has two opportunities to hear MacMillan speak about his work. At 6:30 p.m. immediately prior to the July 2 world premiere, the composer will be interviewed in The Studio in The Hult Center by KWAX music director Peter van de Graaf as part of the fesitval’s “Let’s Talk” series. At 2:30 p.m. Thursday, June 30, MacMillan will present the Hinkle Distinguished Lecture in the Soreng Theater at the Hult Center. Both events are free of charge.

On June 28, MacMillan will also conduct a concert in the Soreng Theater featuring two of his previous works, “For Sonny” and “Sinfonietta,” as well as favorite works by several other composers. MacMillan compositions have been played at the Oregon Bach Festival before, but this will be the first time the composer will appear in person.

“We’re thrilled to be giving the world premiere of this significant and hotly anticipated new addition to the choral repertoire,’ Halls said. “We are also honored to have the composer in residence during the Festival, sharing with us his own personal insights and experiences as one of the most in-demand composer/conductors of our time.”

The Oregon Bach Festival commissioned “A European Requiem,” which was supported in part by an award from National Endowment of the Arts. The performance is supported by the Nils and Jewel Hult Endowment-Arts Foundation of Western Oregon Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation and a generous contribution from Elfrieda and Vern Heinrichs in memory of Dr. John Evans.  The performance of Bach’s “Magnificat” is supported by a generous donation from Lewinter Law. 

The 47th annual Oregon Bach Festival began June 23, and runs through Sunday, July 10. Over the course of 18 days, the festival is expected to attract more than 15,000 people from across the U.S. and overseas. The 2016 festival will feature more than 400 musicians and singers in 50 concerts, lectures, community events and world-class training workshops at four locations in downtown Eugene.

Prices for ticketed concerts and events range from $20 to $65 and several ticket discount packages are available for almost all concerts. More than 20 events arefree to the public. Tickets are available online at, or by phone by calling 541-682-5000. Tickets can also be purchased at the Hult Center Box Office, located at West Seventh Avenue and Willamette Street in Eugene.