Sir James MacMillan – Principal Festival Conductor 

 

Sir James MacMillan is one of today's most successful composers and is also internationally active as a conductor. His musical language is flooded with influences from his Scottish heritage, Catholic faith, social conscience and close connection with Celtic folk music, blended with influences from Far Eastern, Scandinavian and Eastern European music.

 

MacMillan first became internationally recognized after the extraordinary success of The Confession of Isobel Gowdie at the BBC Proms in 1990. His prolific output has since been performed and broadcast around the world. His major works include percussion concerto Veni, Veni, Emmanuel, which has received close to 500 performances, a cello concerto for Mstislav Rostropovich and five symphonies. Recent major works include his Percussion Concerto No.2 for Colin Currie, co-commissioned by the Philharmonia Orchestra, Edinburgh International Festival, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music and, and his Symphony No.5, written for The Sixteen, which was premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival.

MacMillan enjoys a flourishing career as conductor of his own music alongside a range of contemporary and standard repertoire, praised for the composer’s insight he brings to each score. He has conducted orchestras such as the National Symphony Orchestra Washington, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, Vienna Radio Symphony, Danish Radio Symphony, Gothenburg Symphony, Bergen Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and NHK Symphony Orchestra among others. He was Principal Guest Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Kamer Filharmonie until 2013 and Composer/Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic from 2000-09.

MacMillan is due to conduct the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra in the Dutch premiere of his Christmas Oratorio in January 2021 and another major new work, Fiat Lux, is scheduled to receive its world premiere by the Pacific Symphony. Other recent highlights include a major feature at the 2019 Edinburgh International Festival as part of his 60th birthday year, with performances of works such as Quickening, A Scotch Bestiary, Woman of the Apocalypse and the world premiere of MacMillan’s Symphony No.5 ‘Le grand inconnu’, alongside which MacMillan conducted his Symphony No.2. 

MacMillan founded his music festival, The Cumnock Tryst, in October 2014, which takes place annually in his native Ayrshire. MacMillan was awarded a CBE in 2004 and a Knighthood in 2015.

MacMillan has directed many of his own works on disc for Chandos, BIS and BMG, most recently a series on Challenge Records including MacMillan’s violin concerto A Deep but Dazzling Darkness and percussion concerto Veni, Veni, Emmanuel with Colin Currie and the Netherlands Radio Kamer Filharmonie. His recent release on Harmonia Mundi conducting Britten Sinfonia included his Oboe Concerto and won the 2016 BBC Music Magazine Award; in 2017 The Sixteen’s recording of MacMillan’s Stabat Mater was nominated for a Gramophone Award and won the Diapason d'Or Choral Award.

Martin Baker –  Choral Faculty and Clinician

 

Born in Manchester in 1967, Martin Baker studied at the Royal Northern College of Music Junior School, Chetham’s School of Music and Downing College, Cambridge, then held positions at London’s Westminster and St Paul’s Cathedrals and Westminster Abbey before returning to Westminster Cathedral in 2000 as Master of Music, where he remained until 2019. During his time, he was responsible for directing the world-renowned choir in its daily choral program and

busy schedule of concerts, tours and recordings. With the Westminster Cathedral Choir, his performances on broadcasts and recordings have received wide critical acclaim. 

Martin Baker is recognized as a dynamic choral conductor and concert organist. Since his appointment to Westminster Cathedral as Master of Music, the choir has maintained its high profile both in the Roman Catholic Church and in the musical world in general. He has commissioned and directed the choir in the premieres of a number of new choral masses, including works by composers such as James MacMillan, Peter Maxwell Davies, Judith Bingham and John Tavener. The choir has continued its series of acclaimed recordings on the Hyperion label, the most recent releases being recordings of the service of Vespers of the Nativity, the Palestrina Lamentations and a sequence of music from Advent to Epiphany featuring music written specially for the choir. Forthcoming releases include two Palestrina Masses,  Missa Te Deum laudamus  and  Missa Tu es Petrus.  

 

Under his direction the choir has given concerts regularly in the UK, participating in many prestigious festivals such as South Bank’s Messiaen and Maxwell Davies celebrations, and toured in the USA, Hungary, Germany, Belgium, Norway and Italy. In 2005 Martin Baker was invited to address the Congregation for Divine Worship at the Vatican on the Liturgical Role of the Choir. In 2006 he founded the Conference of Catholic Directors of Music, an association which brings together the leading catholic cathedral and church musicians in the UK and Ireland, and which aims to promote and foster quality of music in Roman Catholic worship. In November 2009 he attended a meeting of Pope Benedict and a select group of artists from all over the world in the Sistine Chapel, to mark the tenth anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s Letter to Artists. 

As an organist, Martin Baker is much in demand all over the world. Performing regularly in the UK and abroad, he has recently given concerts in France, Holland, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Austria, the USA, and Russia. In July 2017 he was elected President of the Royal College of Organists in the UK for a two-year term. The winner of the St Alban’s Improvisation competition in 1997, improvisation features regularly in his recital programs. 

Timothy McDonnell –  Cooperating Choral Faculty and Festival Organizer

Widely recognized for his broad skill set and musicianship, Timothy McDonnell has earned a reputation for creativity and leadership on and off the podium. After serving for several years as the director of choirs at Ave Maria University, McDonnell was appointed Director of Choral Studies and Director of the Institute of Sacred Music at the Benjamin T.

Rome School of Music at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

At the Rome School, he established the Master’s program in Choral Conducting and led the University’s choirs to successful performances, including a collaboration with Gustavo Dudamel in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 at the Kennedy Center in 2018.

 

McDonnell’s performances have gained critical acclaim and national distinction. He has collaborated with some of the most renowned conductors in the field, including Andrey Boreyko, Carlos Miguel Prieto, Cristian Macelaru, and Robert Page. McDonnell has served as the Music Director of the Schola Nova Ensemble, Studio Lirico Opera Program, Elysium Concert Opera, the Symphonic Chorale of Southwest Florida, the Ars Laudis Festival Chorus & Orchestra, the choirs of Ave Maria University, and the North American College in Vatican City.  McDonnell has led several professional orchestras as a guest conductor, including the Naples Philharmonic, the Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra, and the Collier County Sinfonietta, in works from across the repertoire.  During the fall of 2018 he served as a guest conductor of the Salisbury Symphony Orchestra (MD).

Mr. McDonnell’s performances with University ensembles have won national recognition. In 2013 McDonnell was a finalist for the American Prize in choral conducting for his performance of Mozart’s Requiem, and in 2014 he took third place in the 2014 American Prize for his performance of Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem.  His 2019 performance of Mozart’s Vesperae Solennes de Confessore garnered 2nd place in the American Prize Choral Conducting Competition in 2020.

McDonnell’s compositions and arrangements have been performed by leading and regional ensembles, including the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, the Yale Repertory Orchestra, The Kennett Symphony (PA), and the Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra. Mr. McDonnell was a finalist for the 2014 American Prize in composition for his Sub tuum praesidium. An active arranger, McDonnell has arranged and conducted tracks released on Rob Hyman’s Monocle label.  

Maestro McDonnell holds degrees from Yale University and the University of South Carolina.

Peter Carter  –  Cooperating Choral Faculty and Festival Organizer

Peter Carter is the Director of Sacred Music at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Allentown, New Jersey. He leads the parish chorister program and conducts a twenty-four voice semi-professional Schola Cantorum who sing for a weekly Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

 

Mr. Carter received his B.M. (summa cum laude) and M.M. in organ performance at Westminster Choir College, studying with Alan Morrison and Daryl Robinson. As a conductor he studied with Dr. James Jordan and Dr. Andrew Megill, and as a vocalist with Dr. Christopher Arneson. 

He has sung and recorded with the Westminster Symphonic Choir, the Grammy® nominated Westminster Williamson Voices, and The Same Stream. As an organist, he has performed in the United States and France and has played for many prominent liturgies that have aired on EWTN. As a clinician, he has led sacred music workshops throughout the United States and at the seminary of the Fraternity of St. Joseph the Guardian in the Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, France.  

Since 2016, he has served as the director of liturgical music for the Pro Civitate Dei summer conferences hosted by the Fraternity of St. Joseph the Guardian in the United States, France, and Chile. From 2019-2020, he served as co-host of Square Notes: The Sacred Music Podcast, interviewing prominent Church figures and musicians including Robert Cardinal Sarah, Olivier Latry, and Sir James MacMillan. 

In 2020, Mr. Carter directed the music for a Sarum Vespers, sponsored by the Durandus Institute for Sacred Liturgy and Music, and thought to be the first Catholic Sarum liturgy in the United States.