The Sixteen to perform MacMillan’s globally acclaimed Stabat Mater at Ely Cathedral in the wake of US premiere.

Only days following its US premiere at The Lincoln Centre in New York, Ely Cathedral is to host the highly anticipated performance of James MacMillan’s Stabat Mater under the baton of Harry Christophers, and featuring the unparalleled partnership of the Britten Sinfonia and The Sixteen.

Stabat Mater originated as a 13th-century text depicting Mary’s suffering and anguish at the crucifixion of her son, Jesus Christ. Throughout the centuries it has been set to music by many famous composers but MacMillan’s 2009 compelling composition for choir and string orchestra has been heralded as ‘a powerfully moving and gripping masterpiece’. 

The concert is one of the highlights of the Cambridge Music Festival. Justin Lee, Festival Director, says “It’s a real pleasure to be able to hold this Cambridge Music Festival event in Ely Cathedral. Although Cambridge has buildings which have stood for the same number of centuries, there is nothing with that history on the same scale, and the Cathedral has a very special atmosphere that changes the way one listens to the music. It is ideal for a devotional work like James MacMillan’s Stabat Mater, but this is powerful, bittersweet music that audiences will find that they can lose themselves in whether they are religious or not.”

The concert will also feature a performance of Vaughan Williams’s Tallis Fantasia from the Britten Sinfonia, and will begin with MacMillan’s Miserere, a more straightforward choral anthem written in 2009 and widely celebrated as a result of the the Sixteen’s Choral Pilgrimage concerts

MacMillan’s Stabat Mater was first performed at the Barbican in 2016 with Britten Sinfonia and The Sixteen. They will present the US premiere in New York on 7th November before coming to perform the work in the imposing surroundings of Ely Cathedral on Saturday 9th November.

Tickets are available from the Box Office 01353 660349 or online at

“MacMillan’s Stabat Mater is a masterpiece of choral invention.” – Scotsman

 “The Sixteen and Britten Sinfonia produced one of those performances during which you can hardly breathe for fear of missing a nuance of expression.” – The Times

Further information about the Cambridge Music Festival can be found at

Press release from Ely Cathedral

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