Since it was the Day of Preparation… – Sir James MacMillan / Hebrides Ensemble / Synergy Vocals (Delphian) shortlisted for EVM Recorded New Work

March 1, 2017 in safnm2017 by mwhiteside

James MacMillian and the Hebredies Ensemble
Credit – Tim Morozzo

Responses from William Conway, Artistic Director Hebrides Ensemble


  1.    How did this recording come about?  

From the moment Hebrides Ensemble commissioned it, I planned to record it but wanted to give the performance some time to mature before commuting it to disc.

  1.    What were the challenges in recording this repertoire?

The instrumentation is highly unusual which posed some problems finding a good corporate sound whilst being able to highlight details. Delphian Records provided the expertise in this area and the instrumentalists of Hebrides Ensemble and singers of Synergy Vocals delivered stunning all-round performances of extremely challenging music.

  1.    This must have been a very intense project to have been involved in – what was it that made it special for you?

To have dreamt of it, instigated it with the support of the Edinburgh International Festival and co-commissioners Kings Place and Soli Deo Gloria, to have received a stunning score from James MacMillan and to perform it at such a high level with fantastic musicians.

  1.    Who are the upcoming Scottish composers to watch?

Matthew Grouse, Tom Harrold, Findlay Spence.

  1.    What other recordings (from other performers/labels) have you heard this year that you found exciting and inspiring? 

Bach’s ‘Christmas Oratorio’ recorded for Linn Records by Dunedin Consort, the BBC Radio 3 broadcast of Sir Harrison Birtwistle’s ‘Last Supper’ and Gregory Porter ‘ Take me to the Alley’ on Bluenote  (Decca).


Paul Baxter – Delphian Records

  1.    How did this recording come about?

I’ve been in discussion with Hebrides for some time about a collaboration. This is the first in a series of three planned single composer recordings of new music associated with the Hebrides Ensemble themselves. The opportunity to have in the catalogue such a large scale work of James’s, hitherto unrecorded, was a huge draw.

  1.    What were the challenges in recording this repertoire?

James’s lineup for this piece is, frankly, unconventional. Theorbo + harp? What an inspired combination. We recorded in a studio environment, which made it easier for me to curate a balance that I think is successful – but the musicians were all in the same space; managing the balance between a clarinet and horn at double forte and a theorbo required a bit of work in post production.

  1.    This must have been a very intense project to have been involved in – what was it that made it special for you?

It’s a great honour to record, for posterity, a major new work such as this. That in itself is special; not to mention the artistry of the team at Hebrides. The interlinking cadenzi in this piece are not easy! They nailed it!