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James MacMillan

Scotsman James MacMillan is one of the country's leading composers of modern music.

He burst on the scene at the Proms 12 years ago with his ground- breaking Confession of Isobel Gowdie.

Two years later came the percussion concerto Veni, Veni Emmanuel which helped propel Evelyn Glennie to international stardom and which has become a concert classic.

Since then MacMillan has written symphonies, concerti, operas and much choral music which has been performed all round the world. He also conducts internationally. Much of MacMillan's music is fuelled by personal conviction. He is a devout catholic and pluralist.

The South Bank Show has spent a year with MacMillan to make a programme about the music and the man. We sit in on a major MacMillan recording with the BBC Philharmonic in Manchester, join him as he works on his latest composition in a Glasgow studio and collaborates with Royal Ballet Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon and ballet diva Darcey Bussell as one of his orchestral pieces becomes a ballet.

We explore MacMillan's childhood, revisiting with him the Ayrshire mining village where his musical gift first became apparent. We go with him to Pluscarden Monastery in the Highlands and to Iona to explore the connections between his faith and his music and the influence of Celtic music on his.

In Glasgow we go with him to see his beloved Celtic play and attend a private family party where everyone sings and plays traditional music.

MacMiIlan talks in depth with Melvyn Bragg about his music and his life, and about the incident which brought him into the headlines three years ago when, at the Edinburgh festival, he challenged his native country to tackle the issue of prejudice against Catholics, an incendiary issue in Scotland.

Throughout the programme, we hear MacMillan's music, sometimes difficult and uncompromising, often beguiling and accessible, always passionate and honest.

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