Written in spring 2020 during the first lockdown period, Caledonian Tracks for Wind Ensemble takes a rail journey along the River Tay. Commissioned by Tayside ensemble, Caledonian Winds, the work explores the momentum of life and travel, and its abrupt interruption due to the pandemic in 2020.
Don't give up the day job?
Helen was interviewed by Michael Alexander for The Courier Weekend magazine feature on her journey into composing and how she left behind her CEO role five years ago to return to her musical roots and composing aspirations. Read the article complete with music and videos here.
UK Winter Concerts
Helen's choral music will feature in four winter concerts across Perthshire, including the premieres of Credo by Pitlochry & District Choral Society, and Wings of the Morning by Anita MacKenzie Mills and Margaret Sikora as part of 'Hidden Voices' promoting music by female composers.
Inside Story Feature
An interview on Helen's music and upcoming recording release featured on PARMA Recording's Inside Story. Gloria in excelsis Deo featured on radio shows around the USA including Music of our Mothers, broadcast on 10 April. Host Ellen Grolman reviewed the work as 'spectacular writing for voices'.
Evening of Sacred Song
A showcase evening in All Saints Church, Perthshire, saw a choir of 22 singers selected from Perth & Kinross perform a programme of Helen's new choral work. The evening saw the world premiere of May the Road Rise Up! and the UK premiere of Gloria. The sell-out concert concluded with a standing ovation and raised £860 charity PKAVS and All Saints church.
My Voice, Christ Church
As a female choral composer, Helen was delighted to work with The University of Oxford to compose a new work My Voice for an international conference on the theme of 'Women and the Canon'. The work for female voices and piano explored gender, voice and authority though composition and performance. The premiere took place in the stunning setting of Christ Church, Oxford on 22 January.
In March, Helen recorded her new orchestral work The Rinns of Islay with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and PARMA Recordings. The recording took place at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and will be released in January 2022. The work presents a musical journey around the beautiful Scottish island of Islay.
The Road to Calvary
Helen announced the development of an ambitious new work The Road to Calvary, portraying the final hours of Christ's life leading up to the Crucifixion. The 40-minute work for Strings, SATB Choir and Timpani examines the most important moment in history, exploring the moments of extreme light and darkness in those final hours.
Alongside composing, Helen administers one of Scotland's leading independent arts festivals, Perth Festival of the Arts, which runs each May. In the run-up to the 2019 Festival, Helen was interviewed on composing and her new role with the festival by Keith Bruce at The Herald.
Mass for the Spirit
Building on her cornerstone work Gloria in excelsis Deo, Helen completed a full Mass in Latin for SATB Chorus and Piano. The
versatile five-moment work (Kyrie, Credo, Gloria, Sanctus & Agnus Dei) lasts 20-minutes, with some a cappella movements. The Mass and can be performed in full, or as individual movements.
Recording in Prague
Working PARMA Recordings, Helen recorded her Gloria in excelsis Deo in the Academy of Performing Arts, Prague, with Prague Mixed Chamber Choir under the baton of Jiří Petrdlík. Read the PARMA Recording news blog or coverage of Helen's story by Small City Big Personality Perth. Helen's first recording will feature on a contemporary choral album in 2019.
Ennio Morricone Award
As part of the Florence International Choir Festival 2015, Helen was invited to Italy to receive a Special Mention Award for her setting of Gloria in excelsis Deo. The award was made by a panel of judges chaired by Maestro Ennio Morricone as part of the 2nd International Competition of Choral Composition 'Ennio Morricone'.
Photo below from L to R: Helen MacKinnon, Gaetano Lorandi, Leonardo Sagliocca, Noriko Ieda, John Damsma, Andrea Angelini and Andrea Benedetti
Writing in Harmony
With many choirs exploring creative new music ideas this year, Crieff Choral Group commissioned a new choral arrangement of an original song, written by Perthshire musicians Syd House & Dr Nicola Small and based on the poem The Gean Trees by Scottish poetess Violet Jacob. Read about our Perthshire collaboration here.
Premiere with Subotica Philharmonic, Serbia
Presented by PARMA Recordings, Ave Maris Stella for Soprano and String orchestra premiered in Serbia with the Subotica Philharmonic orchestra and Alenka Ponjavić Vojnić in the City Halls, Subtica on 12 December, gaining national coverage.
Voices of Earth and Air
"Presenting the best that modern choral compositions have to offer". Settings of traditional prayers are mingled with ethereal stories and otherworldly visions to create a collection that nods to the future or choral music. Featuring Helen's acclaimed Gloria in excelsis Deo. Available for purchase.
Florence Choral Festivals
Perth Festival of the Arts
Helen is thrilled to be working with Perth Festival of the Arts to write a new work for the 45th annual Festival. Sing to the Lord a new Song premiered during the Festival Service on 22 May in St John's Kirk, Perth, under the baton of Craig Dennis. See Press Coverage. Helen joined Perthshire artist Georgia Crook on The Janice Forsyth Show on BBC Radio Scotland on 17 May.