Scott Macmillan
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Scott Macmillan

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada | SELF

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada | SELF
Band Folk




"Celtic Mass for the Sea Up-coming performances 2010/2013"


Composed in 1988, Premiered in 1991, “Celtic Mass for the Sea” is a contemporary choral classic.

Capturing a cheering standing ovation at Carnegie Hall in New York, in 2002 and enthusiastically applauded by audiences in Canada, the UK and Germany

May 13 & 14 2010,
Rostock & Warnemünde Osnabrücker Vocalvielhamonie Germany, Director Holger Dolkemeyer

July 11, 2010,
Indian River Festival, PEI, Jeff Jeodry conducts the Halifax Camerata Singers

June 23, 24, 2011,
Teresachor Choir of Heidelberg Germany in Vernazza & Levanto Italy Director by Markus Troyller

October 9, 2011
Teresachor Choir of Heidelberg Germany Director by Markus Troyller

October 9, 2011 Teresachor Choir of Heidelberg Germany Records the Celtic Mass of the Sea, Director by Markus Troyller

March 2012
Carleton University Choir Music Director: Marg Stubington

June 9, 2012,
World Oceans Day performance, Halifax NS conducted by Jeff Joudrey

November 24, 2012
Calgary Festival Singers, directed by Mel Kerby Knox United Church Calgary, Alta

June 8, 2013:
Bonn Germany, conducted by Choral Director Hurbert Arnold

“Remarkable is its diversity of the musical impressions. Sometimes the music is gliding away like a soft breeze, then, it rears up like a giant wave. Soft sounds alternate with chords, which sound like a storm tide.”
“Lets hope the Celtic Mass for the Sea is an impressive creation of modern choral and orchestral music lets hope it takes its place firmly in the repertoire of sacred choral music and is performed often.”
“Celtic Mass for the Sea puts Scott Macmillan up with the Bill Whelan's and Shaun Davey's of the world… a Celtic classical composer par excellence”. JOHN O'REGAN, Limerick, Ireland
“Macmillan's score is as rich in musical imagery as Brickenden's compiled Celtic texts in verbal metaphor.”
“The entertainment value in this package is overpowering” RPM CHART WEEKLY
“Macmillan is a talented fellow” AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE
“… it is a living statement of an exciting new dimension of our contemporary Atlantic Canadian culture”
“And the audience?.... They showed the extent of their inspiration by giving him a standing ovation.”
“A wonderful piece of music” - the late former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudreau
"Outstanding! Captures the spirituality of the sea; the wonder, the beauty of God’s creation and renewal."
- Jean C, Kailua HI
"A ‘blessing’ for the ear and soul." - Allan B, Vancouver BC
"Reverent, Beautiful and Profound." Lynn P, Mattydale NY
"Incredible diversity of cultural eloquence." -.Teri S, Ayer MA
"Fabulous piece of music from beginning to end." – The History Room, Kingsboro PEI
- Scojen Music

"Macmillan hits the mark.......Within Sight of Shore"

Macmillan hits the mark; Within Sight of Shore ranges from rich, gritty, savage to smooth, sweet

The Chronicle Herald, Halifax, NS
Published: 2008-04-29


Ordinarily a baroque ensemble makes an odd fit with a concert featuring members of the navy’s elite Stadacona Band. But the group Tempest, headed by David Greenberg, really is a fit with Scott Macmillan’s Within Sight of Shore.

It was the Halifax premiere of his blazing new work, which depicted the final hours of HMCS Esquimalt — the last Canadian navy ship sunk by a submarine, less than a month before the end of the Second World War.

Tempest opened the concert with three sets of baroque pieces, as well as members of the Stadacona Band along with John Overton on piano, and Steve MacNeil on electric bass. Macmillan played lead electric guitar and conducted.

Macmillan is a prolific composer, but this tightly written, dramatically scored four-movement suite (The Hit, The Wait, The Rescue, Ashore) is his most impressive and exciting original work since his 1988 masterpiece, Celtic Mass For The Sea.

The sonic texture, rich, gritty and savage in the dramatic tone-painting of The Hit, ranges all the way to smooth, sweet and lyrical in elegiac and scene-setting passages. The complexity of the writing is set off by Macmillan’s superbly insightful mastery into his resources, and his unerring ear for orchestration.

The simple elegance of Macmillan’s use of imagery is exemplified in the way he deploys his brass quartet (John Cumin and Tim Elson, trumpets, Julie Cuming, French horn, and Tim Keels, trombone/tuba) to dramatize the surviving sailors of the Esquimalt hailing one another across the water. The quartet surrounds the audience as they call and echo across the hall.

Also striking is the interplay of solo guitar and saxophone to represent an imaginary dialogue between LtCdr Macmillan and the U-boat captain characterized by Brian Coughlan with his overtone-rich alto sax sound.

The musical language is that of a jazz ensemble in which extended harmonies and driving rhythms are mixed down into a riveting score. There is no dead time in this work, not a bar or a section that does not compel attention and reward the ear with sounds it can bite into and chew upon.

Macmillan works with extreme musical cunning in combining rhythm and harmony into a musical documentary. He finds suggestive musical imagery to characterize both the action and his father, already a war hero for his distinguished service in the Mediterranean, whose dreams are now shattered along with his ship and the loss of 44 of his 71-man crew.

The concert, at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, began with David Greenberg on violin and Macmillan on acoustic guitar playing a medley of mostly traditional Cape Breton tunes, echoing their long-time collaboration in Puirt a Baroque.

Then Greenberg led the Tempest string quintet (Karen Langille. second violin; Kirsty Money, viola; Hilary Brown, cello; Max Kasper, double-bass; with John Overton on harpsichord) in music by Vivaldi, Jean-Fery Rebel, and Henry Purcell. It included Vivaldi’s violin concerto Tempesta di Mare (Storm at Sea).

Greenberg is unique in his approach to this repertoire. It is sculptural sound rather than stone, its material creating forms and substances that arise and vanish, leaving behind an impression of rhythm, energy and tone shaped into space and contour.

His players work as one with him, inflecting their notes with length and weight of sound to create accents and rhythmic impulses.

So convincing is Greenberg’s musical authority you come away thinking you don’t want to hear Vivaldi played any other way.


© 2008 The Halifax Herald Limited
- The Chronicle Herald By STEPHEN PEDERSEN Arts Reporter

"One day to go at East Coast Music Week, (Excerpt)"


It's already been a good week for island artists as Scott Macmillan, Keith Mullins, and Ian McKinnon have each picked up two East Coast Music Awards, while the East Coast Countdown, co-founded and hosted by Glace Bay native Jimmie Inch, earned an award as well.

Awards handed out Saturday night included Macmillan's second award of the day in the classical recording of the year category for his album "Within Sight of Shore." It was presented during a concert featuring the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra, Chris Colepaugh, David Myles, Samantha Robichaud, and Matt Andersen.
- The Cape Breton Post April 14, 2012

"Barra MacNeils’ orchestral manoeuvres (excerpt)"

The Barra MacNeils with Symphony Nova Scotia: Live in Concert was recorded over two nights last year at Halifax's Rebecca Cohn Auditorium.

Conductor Martin MacDonald has a number of favourite moments from the performances, including Lucy and Kyle’s iconic duet on My Heart’s in the Highlands, and Stewart’s loving ode to his wife Paula, Dance With Me Daily, arranged by another frequent SNS guest conductor, Scott Macmillan. - The Chronicle Herald, (STEPHEN COOKE) April 21, 2012

"Mullins and Macmillan biggest Cape Breton winners over weekend (excerpt)"

MONCTON - The biggest Cape Breton winners of East Coast Music Week were Keith Mullins and Scott Macmillan, who each picked up two awards earlier in the weekend.

Macmillan, who divides his time between Brook Village in Cape Breton and Halifax, heads home with classical recording of the year and DVD of the year honours, for a project very near and dear to his whole family, “Within Sight of Shore.” The album is a musical reflection of the HMCS Esquimalt, the last Canadian warship sunk in the Second World War, on which Macmillan’s father served as commanding officer. The accompanying DVD featured survivor

“It’s really special,” said Macmillan of the recognition from the ECMA. “It was a story that was not told. It was pushed under the rug by the navy because it was the end of the war and they didn’t want to have all this upset at that point in time, so my father took a lot of heat about it, where it wasn’t his fault and we were lucky to get these men, before they passed away, to say ‘No it wasn’t Bob Macmillan’s fault at all’ ... so that’s a precious, precious thing for the Macmillan

Macmillan’s wife Jennyfer Brickenden produced the project and their son, Ian Macmillan, directed the DVD production.
- Laura Jean Grant, THE CAPE BRETON POST, April 15, 2012

"One day to go at East Coast Music Week, (Excerpt)"


It's already been a good week for island artists as Scott Macmillan, Keith Mullins, and Ian McKinnon have each picked up two East Coast Music Awards, while the East Coast Countdown, co-founded and hosted by Glace Bay native Jimmie Inch, earned an award as well.

Awards handed out Saturday night included Macmillan's second award of the day in the classical recording of the year category for his album "Within Sight of Shore." It was presented during a concert featuring the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra, Chris Colepaugh, David Myles, Samantha Robichaud, and Matt Andersen.
- The Cape Breton Post April 14, 2012

"Musicians celebrate Titanic heroes’ legacy"

And the Band Played On, a tribute to the brave members of the Titanic band, will features Nova Scotia Irish duo Evans & Doherty, honouring the ship’s birthplace at Belfast’s Harland and Wolff shipyard.

THERE ARE DOZENS of stories of self-sacrifice acted out on the deck of the Titanic on the night she went down in the North
Atlantic nearly a century ago.

Few are as poignant as the survivors’ memories of the ship’s eight musicians, who performed ragtime and light classical music to
calm panicked passengers as they scrambled for space in the lifeboats.

They refused to seek rescue themselves, instead providing whatever meagre source of solace they could for those who remained on
board until the bitter — and bitterly cold — end.

They were young men, ranging in age from 20-year-old French cellist
Roger Bricoux to 33-year-old British orchestra leader Wallace Hartley, whose body was recovered and brought to Halifax before it was returned to his family in Lancashire. Besides Hartley, the
only others whose bodies were pulled from the water are John (Jock) Hume, a violinist from Dumfries, Scotland, and Liverpool bass
violist John F. P. Clark.

Hume is buried in Halifax’s Fairview Lawn Cemetery, with Clark buried nearby in Mt. Olivet Cemetary, and it’s their memory that is
honoured tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium with a tribute concert titled And the Band Played On.
A special Titanic 100 Orchestra is conducted by Scott Macmillan, and there will be performances by musical guests Meaghan Smith, Lennie Gallant, Bruce Guthro, Jenn Grant, Rhapsody Quintet and Evans & Doherty.

A double 2012 East Coast Music Award nominee for his recording and DVD, Within Sight of Shore, Macmillan, like most Nova
Scotians, has had a lifelong awareness of the Titanic disaster.

When he learned more recently that two of its musicians were buried
in Halifax, it got him thinking about the possibility of a memorial musical event. As discussions began with Music Nova Scotia about
presenting the tribute concert And the Band Played On, the composer of Celtic Mass for the Sea knew he had to be a part of it. "It all worked out really well," says the accomplished composer, conductor and guitarist. "I have a piece called Hail to the Gaels which has a traditional element to it and I’ve written so much music inspired by the ocean, so I was really happy to be a part of this."

Another Celtic component to Tuesday night’s concert will be provided by Nova Scotia Irish duo Evans & Doherty, paying tribute to the Titanic’s birthplace at Belfast’s Harland and Wolff shipyard and commemorating the last time she was seen from the shore,
sailing out of Queenstown (now Cobh) Harbour in the south of the island.

Brian Doherty grew up outside Belfast, in the town of Omagh, and last month, in his role as a Canadian observer for the International
Fund for Ireland, toured a new 90-million-pound interactive Titanic exhibit near the site of its construction. He was glad to see Nova
Scotia’s role in the Titanic saga well represented in the new facility and sees the whole Titanic 100 memorial as "a great story and a
great opportunity for the province. - The Chronicle Herald, (STEPHEN COOKE) April 10, 2012

"List of 2012 East Coast Music Award winners presented Sunday in NB (excerpt)"

Classical Recording of the Year: Scott MacMillan — "Within Sight of Shore"

DVD of the Year: Scott MacMillan — "Within Sight of Shore"
- CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot, April 16, 2012


Sixty-seven years ago on April 16, 1945, for a heart stopping twenty minutes, the engines of HMCS SARNIA were stilled, and as a twenty–one year old sub-lieutenant, I joined my mates on the scramble net to rescue the twenty seven survivors of the torpedoed HMCS ESQUIMALT and the bodies of the thirteen who did not. Those of us present that day got on with our lives but the needless waste of forty-four young lives has never been far from our minds.
The sinking of ESQUIMALT by U-190 has been told several times in the official histories of the Canadian Navy. This retelling goes beyond the facts and touches on the sad consequences of bad communications and missed opportunities resulting in so many deaths and the psychological toll on those who survived and of their families.

SARNIA and ESQUIMALT had been taken off convoy work and ordered on a Search and Destroy Mission because a U-boat was thought to be lurking outside the Halifax harbour. The two ships were to meet at C buoy, April 16, 1945, at 08:00 hours. At 0630 on that fateful day, U-190 had already fired one acoustic torpedo striking ESQUIMALT on the starboard quarterdeck. She sank in less than five minutes. There was no time to send an SOS. The Captain, Lt. C. Robert Macmillan, in true naval tradition, was the last to leave his ship.

Meanwhile, SARNIA at 0800 found that ESQUIMALT had failed to arrive and Lt. Bob Douty, Captain, signaled Dockyard this information. The first of a series of inexplicable lapses occurred. There was no reply to his report. 0920: Lt. Douty signaled dockyard that he would sweep ESQUIMALT’s patrol area. Once again no response. 0940: SARNIA made a strong ASDIC contact with a suspected U-boat, dropped two sets of depth charges with no results, and resumed her sweep of the area. Finally, at 1114, dockyard asked if ESQUIMALT had joined. Our terse reply “Negative”. 1125 SARNIA was finally given the signal to search for the missing ship. 1140: Dockyard indicated the BURLINGTON, DRUMMONDVILLE and KENTVILLE were to join the search.

Meanwhile, just over the horizon, Macmillan and his crew of seventy were in the frigid Atlantic where hypothermia was taking its deadly toll on his crew. Unbelievably, an RCAF patrol flew over them around 0800 and reported them as fishing vessels. Around 0830, two coastal patrol ships came within a mile of the survivors but also missed them.

1200: A RCAF patrol from Shearwater flew over us and signaled by light, “Survivors Ahead”.
1300: SARNIA was dead still in the water as we picked up the twenty seven survivors and the thirteen who had perished. 1540: SARNIA secured to Jetty No. 5. Help was at hand.
The Board of Inquiry in May found that Bob Macmillan was at fault for failing to zigzag and to stream the CAT gear.
Some crew members claimed they were zigzagging but did not know about the CAT gear. No witnesses were called from Dockyard. This verdict weighed heavily and perhaps, unfairly, on the shoulders of Lt. Bob Macmillan. He seldom spoke of his war experience.
story, however, does not end there. A poignant epilogue has been written in words and music as clarification of what transpired and perhaps, a vindication of Lt. Bob Macmillan and the crew of ESQUIMALT.

Scott Macmillan, son of Bob Macmillan is a musician and composer. As a child and throughout is early life, he knew, somehow, that his father’s war experience had marked him and had shadowed their lives as well. His son, Ian, is a film maker. Scott has written a four part concerto, “Within Sight of Shore” telling the tragic history musically while Ian developed the visual written history. Combined, this documentary makes a powerful statement. The CBC has bought the documentary and it has been aired nationally.

The Sackville Trust has honoured Scott and Ian by acknowledging their work. The ESQUIMALT story is now secure. - Action Stations; Trustee Lou Howard, MID April 2012

"Cape Bretoners win more ECMA (excerpt)"

MONCTON, N.B. — Cape Breton musicians and industry professionalshad a big morning picking up several East Coast
Music Awards.

Scott MacMillan, who divides his time between Brook Village, Cape Breton and Halifax, accepted the DVD of the year award for “Within Sight of Shore,” with his wife Jennyfer Brickenden, who was also involved in the project. Their son, Ian Macmillan, directed the production.

For full coverage of the ECMA industry and music awards, see Monday's edition of the Cape Breton Post.
- Cape Breton Post, 2012-04-14

"Celtic Mass for the Sea receives harbourside performance"

Free concert marks World Oceans Day

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the original proposal for World Oceans Day. It was first suggested at the 1992 Earth Summit in Brazil and the date June 8 was officially recognized by the United Nations in 2008.

In a city so connected to the sea, for fishing, shipping and leisure, the commemorative occasion is being recognized with the
majestic, stirring sounds of composer Scott Macmillan’s Celtic Mass for the Sea, performed on the Halifax waterfront in a free
concert on Saturday at 7 p.m.

The performance marks a World Oceans Day weekend that also includes a flash mob version of the choral parts of Celtic Mass for
the Sea that anyone can join in, today at 12:30 p.m. in the Small Craft Gallery of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.

Since he composed it in 1988, with his wife Jennyfer Brickenden’s libretto, Celtic Mass for the Sea has taken Macmillan from the
Rebecca Cohn Auditorium in Halifax to New York’s Carnegie Hall.
Delving into ancient folklore, combining old incantations and prayers with Gaelic melodies, Macmillan’s compositional brain
processed these seafaring elements into an organic piece that still lives and breaths nearly a quarter century later. “I guess the soup came out tasting pretty good,” he chuckles over tea and fruitcake at the kitchen table in his Halifax home. “There’s a lot of substance there and I never get tired of it. If I get tired of my own music, then it’s not good.

“(The Celtic Mass) has a lot of depth. I think we found something that needed to be unearthed. And it keeps going. This time next
year it’s going to be performed in Bonn. That’s Ludwig’s town!”
Surely the great Beethoven himself would approve of the scope of Macmillan’s piece, as it sums up the ceaseless power of the
waves and the sea’s ongoing role as a giver and taker of life.

Macmillan is a double 2012 East Coast Music Award winner for his recording and DVD of Within Sight of Shore, commemorating the
1945 sinking of the HMCS Esquimalt.

Saturday’s concert will be conducted by Jeff Joudrey with the Camerata Singers expanded to around 40 voices, Blue Engine String
Quartet and a Celtic ensemble including David Greenberg playing violin and fiddle parts, Louis Benoit on mandolin, piper Glen
Coolen, and harpist Karen Rokos.

Macmillan sees the connection between World Oceans Day and Celtic Mass for the Sea continuing for years to come.
He hopes listeners think about the beauty and the gifts of the oceans and our connection to them, and remember it’s a two-way
shipping lane when it comes to giving back what we get out of them.
“I’d like it if they could relate to the First Nations concept of treating your world such that the seventh generation after you will have a
place to live, if they could sock a bit of that away in the back of their head,” he says with a smile. “It’s all about having a respect for the oceans, because we need them, and we need them to be clean, or as clean as possible.”

STEPHEN COOKE Entertainment Reporter - Chronicle Herald June 8, 2012 - STEPHEN COOKE ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER

"ECMA shows share in glow, April 15, 2012,"

WHILE East Coast Music Week 2012 attendees in Moncton compared notes as to who got the least sleep between a full slate of
late-night shows and hotel room jam sessions and their Saturday wake-up call at 10 a.m., Nova Scotia musicians and music
business figures were rewarded for their efforts at the ECMA 2012 Industry and Music Awards Brunch.
A win in the DVD of the year category capped an emotional week for Halifax composer and conductor Scott Macmillan, who won
with his deeply personal project Within Sight of Shore. The DVD documentary accompanies the CD of his four-part composition
commemorating the tragic sinking of HCMS Esquimalt off Halifax Harbour on April 16, 1945, exactly 67 years ago on Monday.
Produced with his wife, Jennyfer Brickenden, the project was directed by Macmillan’s son Ian while studying at Concordia University,
but the family connection goes even further: the captain of the Esquimalt was the composer’s father, Lt.-Cmdr. Robert C. Macmillan.
"My father would be happy," said Macmillan, who previously this week conducted the Titanic 100 Orchestra at the Rebecca Cohn
Auditorium. "The incident was not talked about much in my father’s family. I think he felt humiliated by the whole experience.
- The Chronicle Herald, (STEPHEN COOKE)

"Musicians salute peers on Titanic, April 12, 2012, by Stepehn Pederson"

And the Band Played On also showcased Nova Scotia musicians
Tuesday night’s And the Band Played On concert in the Cohn was advertised as a tribute to violinist Jock Hume, bassist John
(Nobby) Clarke and the six other musicians of the Titanic orchestra.
They provided the accompaniment during most of the 2½ hours it took the Titanic to sink and while 710 of the 2,224 passengers
managed to get away in lifeboats.

But the show, produced by Music Nova Scotia, turned out to be as much a showcase of Nova Scotia musicians as a tribute to the
Titanic band.The songs of Evans and Doherty — Silver Sea, Emigrant Eyes and Wild Mountain Thyme — typified what might have been played by an Irish passenger in third class. Rhapsody Quintet played selections from the White Star Music Book to give us a glimpse of the salon music popular in Edwardian society.
Lennie Gallant performed his ironic, Titanic-inspired song, The Band’s Still Playing. But the contributions of pop singers Meghan Smith (If You Asked Me and A little Love), Jenn Grant (Dreamer and Blue Skies) and Bruce Guthro (Falling), while musically interesting and attractively performed, had nothing to do with the White Star liner.
Bruce and Dylan Guthro’s impassioned singing of How Great Thou Art, a hymn that didn’t make it into the White Star music book’s
sacred music category, was in a class by itself, winding up the first half with suitable fervour.

Ably emceed and narrated by Steve Murphy, the concert began with the 33-piece Titanic 100 Orchestra (mostly Symphony Nova
Scotia musicians) playing Scott Macmillan’s Hail to the Gaels. Macmillan conducted quality arrangements of other music on the
program by himself, Chris Palmer and David Christensen.

It was an upbeat show, with a temperament that was partly Irish pub, partly soft-seater pop concert and partly documentary, with a sense of humour that was all Nova Scotian. It only began to sink into sentimentality with the communal bawling out of the choruses to Wild Mountain Thyme, which followed Gallant’s defiant and somewhat mocking chorus to The Band’s Still Playing. It was authentic enough, since sentimentality cannot be avoided in the tale of the heroic decision of the band to keep the music coming, and in the final playing of Nearer My God to Thee (played by Rhapsody in the Horbury version, specially arranged by bass player David Langstroth).
In a pool of fractured light, the quintet played, with clarinettist John Rapson playing the last chorus of the tune solo, slowing it down
to a fade out while the lights dimmed slowly to black. In the silence that followed, we all sat in darkness for a few minutes.
It had a Drury Lane aspect of theatricality that Joseph Conrad angrily remarked of the newspaper hoopla surrounding the news when it broke in the hours following the sinking. The producers missed an even more dramatic possibility. According to survivors, Nearer My God to Thee had hardly died away
when the tilt of the ship caused all the crockery aboard to crash and heavy boilers and engines broke free and crashed through the
bulkheads of the hull with a truly frightening crescendo of noise.

- The Chronicle Herald

"Guitar-Playing Duo pull out all the 'chops' on new CD"

Guitar-playing duo pull out all the ‘chops’ on new CD
The Cape Breton Post -Arts -Entertainment
Published on September 1st, 2010
Laura Jean Grant

MARGAREE — Fifteen years after they met, guitarists Brian Doyle and Scott
Macmillan are set to release an album that celebrates the unique musical
connection between the two.

Topics : The Barn , Normaway Inn , Dalhousie University , Margaree Forks , Brook Village , Cape Breton

“When I’m playing with Brian, he’s just this intuitive player that I hit it off with
right away. He’s just one of those players that we talk the same language,”
said Macmillan.

The two guitarists met when Doyle, a resident of Margaree Forks, attended
a house warming party at Macmillan’s home in Brook Village in 1995.

“Ever since then we’ve been playing a lot together, just gigs as a guitar duet,” he said.

So what exactly makes it work between the two?

“I guess I call it musical intuition,” said Macmillan. “We’ve both got a lot of chops so we can play good and fast and all that kinda stuff, but more than that we have a good way of listening to each other.”

The success of their collaborations on stage has also translated to the recording studio.

Doyle contributed to four cuts on Macmillan’s Scott Macmillan Presents the Minnie Sessions Vol. 1, which won an East Coast Music Award in 1998, and 12 years later the two guitarists — both accomplished musicians in their own right —
are joining forces on a full-length recording.

“It’s a guitar duet all the way,” said Macmillan. “It’s mostly acoustic but there’s a couple tracks with two electrics and another track with an electric and an acoustic. We just recorded it right here in the house and it’s called Live Off the
Floor which is literally what it is.”

And Cape Breton audiences will be the first to have a live listen to the new material as Doyle and Macmillan have CD release events planned for Friday at 8 p.m. at The Barn at the Normaway Inn on Egypt Road in Margaree Valley, and Saturday at 10 p.m. at the Red Shoe Pub in Mabou.

Reserved seating for the show at The Barn can booked in advance by calling
1-800-565-9463, and tickets will also be available at the door —$8 for adults/$4 for youth. Tickets to the Red Shoe Pub show are $7 and for more information call 945-2996.
Next week, Macmillan and Doyle will head to mainland Nova Scotia for two more release events — one in Halifax and one in Lunenburg

In addition to touring in support of the new album, Macmillan will also be busy this fall with his regular gig teaching guitar at Dalhousie University, and with a special project near and dear to his heart. Macmillan’s composition Within Sight of Shore, which premiered in 2008, will be remounted in November and he hopes to record it this time around. The chamber orchestra piece depicts the last Canadian warship sunk in WWII, HMSC Esquimalt, of which Macmillan’s father was the commanding officer.
- Cape Breton Post

"Scott 'n' The Rocks have horsepower for hot jazz session"

April 26, 2005
CONCERT REVIEW: Scott 'n' The Rocks have horsepower for hot jazz session
By STEPHEN PEDERSEN - The Chronicle Herald

Scott Macmillan packed them in to the Dunn Theatre for his 50th birthday concert Monday night. He didn't have to win them over. They were his from before his tight, energetic 12-piece, big band savaged the ear with their first roaring riff.

He has a lot of friends. They also know good jazz when they hear it and that is what Scott 'n The Rocks played for them in a virtually non-stop, 2 1/2 hour; 14-chart marathon, without intermission.

Alas for the merciless teeth of time. Not that Macmillan and night those musicians in the band, born the same year he was, are feeble they are in their prime.

Their chops are honed to a cutting edge. They play those angular, grand-prix, horse powered packed horns of theirs like racing car drivers, barely slowing for the hairpin turns, roaring down the straightaway in a cloud of thunder and accelerating power.

The alas is for the long-gone big band era. The Rock's sound with its echoes of Stan Kenton and Lew Tabackin, has no-where to play except festivals and one-off concerts. Kids don't want to listen to it and they are the ones keeping bands in business. It's their loss.

Chris Mitchell's soprano sax solo on the second tune in, Number Seventeen, would have stopped anyone with ears in their tracks. It was agile, inventive fiery and fine.

So too, Jamie Gatti's solo on Don't Up Get with Macmillan's son, Duncan on drums and his dad softly strumming electric guitar. Gatti shapes his solos to come home, and when they do everybody feels the satisfaction. Great cheerin' all round.

The musicians, a mix of some of Halifax's best-known jazz musicians and Stad Band professionals negotiated Macmillan's quirky tunes - Bike Ride and the Four Head Blues (four different 12-bar tunes plus a two-bar tag adding up to guess what, 50 bars of music before anyone plays a solo) - with superb ensemble timing.

Painter Holly Carr stepped in front of a large silk screen roughly the size of a garage door and with quick, deft strokes created a vision of the band while they played, the players embraced by a fire-breathing dragon with a champagne sipping cherub, a moon and stars, swans balancing a birthday cake on their head, and Macmillan typically wrapped in absorbed concentration around his hard-body electric guitar.

Happy Birthday Scottie! (spedersen@heraldca)

- The Chronicle Herald

"A Performance Art Happening "20/20 VISION""

For Immediate Release
September 24th, 2004


Come and experience the magic of music and art in the making as Holly Carr and Scott Macmillan compose/perform and paint, interacting with and inspiring each other in a 50 minute riveting event. In conjunction with World Music Day, Holly and Scott will perform at the Inverness Centre of the Arts October 1st, in Inverness, Cape Breton and the following night, October 2nd at the Dobson Yacht Club in Westmount, Cape Breton.

A Performance Art Happening "20/20 VISION"
with HOLLY CARR Silk Painter and SCOTT MACMILLAN Composer/Guitarist

"Celebrate World Music Day"
October 1, 2004 at the Inverness Centre of the Arts (ICCA), Inverness, Cape Breton

"New Music In New Places" 2nd performance
October 2, 2004 at the Dobson Yacht Club, Westmount, Cape Breton

See the Schedule page for more detail and times



Scott Macmillan, well known Nova Scotia musician and composer, and visual artist Holly Carr will be teaming up for two nights of exciting collaborations in a show titled "20/20 Vision" here in Cape Breton.

Scott is recognized as one of Canada's leading musicians, and plays an integral role in widening the audience for the music of Atlantic Canada both nationally and internationally. As Composer-in-Residence for Scotia Festival of Music 2000, Scott premiered five new works, including his solo guitar composition, The Navigator.

Holly's work is hand painted on silk. Each piece is a one of a kind creation. She uses various silks chosen for their quality and the way they absorb dyes. Some items are hand quilted for added texture. Her subject matter is inspired by her surroundings and the humour she sees in everyday situations, ranging from bold florals to social satire. The size of the work can range up to ten feet or more. Gaining national notoriety for her unique style of silk painting, Ms Carr has appeared on both radio and television programs representing her work.

Scott will be exploring and creating compositions for solo guitar, which he will perform while Holly paints. With the aid of a small creation grant from the NS Arts Partnership Scott will present the first in a series of solo guitar works titled 20-20-10. Holly will create a large installation that will see Scott surrounded by silk frames and somewhat painted into the painting. She will be feeding off the compositions that Scott will be presenting her. Starting at 8pm, Holly and Scott will perform/compose and paint for 1 hour without a break, followed by an intermission and a set of light music performed by Scott on guitar.

The relationship between Holly and Scott's art is ever evolving, hence the excitement about being able to explore their creative relationship further with this project.

The production of "20/20 Vision" is part of a major national project, "New Music in New Places", organized by the Canadian Music Centre and made possible with generous funding from the SOCAN Foundation. The aim of the project is to counter the notion that contemporary music is for the few and not approachable, by embarking on a national festival of new music performances in unconventional settings. These can be shopping malls, outdoor city venues or simply parts of the country where new concert music is seldom heard.

The Inverness Centre for the Arts will be hosting the first performance, to take place on October 1. Since its opening in July 2003, the Inverness Centre for the Arts has hosted a number of successful gallery exhibits by many local and regional visual artists. It has not, however, had the opportunity to host a visual /performing arts event such as this one. Performance art of this calibre is simply not available to Inverness County residents.

Arts Cape Breton will be hosting the second performance, to take place on October 2nd at the Dobson Yacht in the community of Westmount, overlooking the Sydney Harbour. Arts Cape Breton, is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the arts and artists of Cape Breton both young and old.

The Canadian Music Centre gratefully acknowledges the support of The SOCAN Foundation and the Government of Canada through the Canada Music Fund.

- Canadian Music Centre

"Celtic Guitar Summit Oct.2008"

Celtic Guitar Summit to aid St. Patrick’s Church
Thu. Oct 23 - 7:02 AM

It wasn’t more than a short generation back that guitarists followed John Allen Cameron’s lead and layed eager hands on the once exclusive Cape Breton pipe and fiddle repertoire.

Three decades later St. Patrick’s Church is going mainstream with a Celtic Guitar Summit on Friday at 7:30 p.m. Scott Macmillan, Dave MacIsaac, Brian Doyle and Seph Peters will headline the fundraiser for the Halifax church’s restoration project.

"The program will be Celtic in bent, as programmed," Macmillan said. "We’ll start with all four doing something together depending on repertoires. We’ll end with everybody too."

"But then we’ll split off in duets and solos. The music will be Celtic in base, but not necessarily in style. Brian and I might go off on a tangent improvising. We have a tendency to do that. We’ll do some jazzy stuff based on a Celtic tune, probably on electronic as well as acoustic guitars."

There is vagueness in Macmillan’s description. But that can make for an exciting performance. Spontaneity is never far away when four such expert players decide to wing it a bit.

"I’m pretty sure Dave will do some pipe tunes. Hopefully he will bring his dobro. He does fiddle tunes on dobro real nice. I’ll be doing something on electric and that right away puts more of a rocky style in it. Seph will be doing banjo tunes. He comes from more of an Irish tradition. He’s really good at picking out Irish tunes on banjo.
"It would be really cool to have Seph and Brian doing something together. They are both real fast players. Dave and I will get off in a blues direction, I’m sure." MacIsaac and Macmillan’s life-long friendship is built on the blues, ever since they hooked off Grade 10 history classes at St. Pat’s High School when they first met, and went home to Scott’s place nearby to jam the blues and celebrate their common hero, Les Paul.
- The Halifax Herald Limited

"MacKinnon's Brook Suite by Scott Macmillan"

MacKinnon's Brook Suite by Scott Macmillan
Reviewed by: Ron Foley Macdonald

Autumn, 2001 witnessed one of the great moments in the history of East Coast Classical Music: The premiere and release of Scott Macmillan's MacKinnon's Brook Suite. A work of major significance and astonishing accessibility, the MacKinnon's Brook Suite places Scott Macmillan at the front rank of Canada's composers of serious music.

Integrating several Cape Breton jigs, reels, laments and airs, The MacKinnon's Brook Suite clearly reflects the influence of the land and culture of the Island. By basing the works five movements on Piper Ian McKinnon's ancestor's journey, arrival and eventual departure from the real area of rural Cape Breton known as MacKinnon's Brook, Macmillan has drawn an intense identification between the music and the landscape.

The Suite actually parallels the action of the story in Alistair MacLeod's Award-winning and acclaimed novel No Great Mischief; needless to say the music of the Suite would form a fine soundtrack to a movie of the book, should one ever be made.

Macmillan's style is immediate and accessible, without being simplistic or reductive. His writing for strings and brass is vigorous and brilliant. Using elements from the pulsating rhythmic patterns of minimalists such as Philip Glass and blending them with big, wide open harmonies of American composer Aaron Copland, while adding a touch of mystic naturalism of the
Englishman Vaughan Williams, Macmillan has forged a unique style that always stays grounded in a refreshing, very honest directness.

Using Ian McKinnon as a principal soloist on flute and pipes, and adding Tafelmusik violinist David Greenberg on Cape Breton fiddle, Macmillan weaves a web of traditional textures that are gently expanded upon through the orchestra's settings. The result is a powerful and moving musical journey that represents a milestone for East Coast Culture, musical or otherwise.

The MacKinnon's Brook Suite was premiered in Mabou, Antigonish and Halifax on October 10, 11 and 12 respectively. The CD, which sees the 50-minute work augmented by four more similar pieces, has been released on Groundswell Records in association with Warner Music Canada.

A CBC TV crew has followed the initial presentations of the project for an upcoming television special. It's clear that the MacKinnon's Brook Suite has only just begun its own promising journey across North America's cultural landscape.
- AtlanticZone

"Scott Conducts Natalie MacMaster and the Royal Scottish Orchestra"

Top marks for good conduct
Edinburgh's folk festival is broadening
it's horizons, reports Rob Adams

Glasgow Herald, March 19, 1997

If EDINBURGH Folk Festival is looking to broaden its audience base, it could hardly have picked a better example of cross-stylistic work experience than the man who will pick up the baton on the festival's flagship concert at the Usher Hall next Wednesday.

The concert features traditional tunes from Scotland and Cape Breton, played by the energetic, young Cape Breton fiddler, Natalie MacMaster, in the company of pianist, Tracy Dares, percussionist, Mike Travis and 40 members of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, conducted and arranged by Scott macmillan.

Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia and a father whose family emigrated from Barra in the early 1800's and a mother whose forbears hailed from Portree, Macmillan's musical roots are neither traditional or classical. He started playing blues guitar, inspired chiefly by Eric Clapton and finding that he couldn't communicate his ideas with other musicians learned arranging techniques for jazz band and brass sections at college in Toronto.

Back in Halifax, he began working as a guitarist, arranger and conductor in recording studios with credits including, singer Rita MacNeil, iconoclastic Cape Breton fiddler Ashley MacIsaac and the Rankin Family, and gradually became introduced to the instrument of the orchestra. In 1987 he was asked to conduct his first live orchestral concert, "a big move from being able to have another stab at it if something went wrong".

Since then he has conducted Symphony Nova Scotia Frequently and amassed a bulging portfolio of orchestral and choral commissions including a violin concerto, film and video and television music and his most celebrated work back home, The Celtic Mass fro the Sea; a merging of Celtic, choral and classical traditions.

Folk festival Director Dave Francis is keen to point out that Macmillan's arrangements of traditional tunes are not following in the footsteps of crossover pieces such as Aly Bain's Follow the Moonstone or Phil Cunningham's Highland and Island Suite.. He prefers to view the orchestrations as a way of introducing colours to the music, although he'll be hoping RSNO fans come along and prepare to have their socks knocked off by MacMaster and Dare's musicianship and simultaneous step-dancing pizzazz.
- Glasgow Herald

"Scott Macmillan, et al, The Minnie Sessions, Vol. 1-3"

Scott Macmillan, et al,
The Minnie Sessions, Vol. 1-3
(Tamarac, 1996-98)

I was afraid these CDs would never be reviewed. When Scott Macmillan and his wife, Jennyfer Brickenden, sent them to me, I expected something exceptional -- knowing Macmillan's work and the general quality of Cape Breton musicians, I could expect nothing less -- but I was in for a shock nonetheless. And once these three CDs, released sequentially over three years, got into heavy rotation on my car stereo, I wasn't sure I'd ever bring them in long enough to write a review. They're that good.

So, pardon me if I sound rushed, but as soon as this review is completed, back to the car stereo they go.

Fans of Cape Breton music are accustomed to greatness when it comes to Celtic traditions. Likewise, the little island has made a big place for itself in the fields of country and folk. The Minnie Sessions combine the best of all three genres, with a healthy dose of cool jazz stylings rolled neatly into the mix as well.

My only complaint is that these recordings are too good. Touted as they are as informal sessions, recorded in Scott and Jennifer's home (the former Minnie Adams residence, hence the title) in Hillsboro, Nova Scotia, the object was to escape the "formality and structure" of a recording studio. To wit, these sessions were held with a variety of excellent musicians over several days in August, 1996 and '97. I expected to hear that informality shine through -- perhaps some background noise, appreciative hoots and hollers
from other musicians, perhaps a bit of impromptu applause, a cheer now and again, some unplanned foot percussion ... maybe even a goof or two -- but no, these folks are just too good, too polished. While that's not a bad thing, it's not what I expected. The Minnie Sessions are note-perfect throughout, every bit as clear and crisp as a studio recording. It's astonishing.

So, too, is the smooth variety of the music performed. This is a spectacular trio of CDs packed with diverse tunes and songs, each exhibiting some of Cape Breton's best talent. While I may not comment on every track -- 41 combined, totaling 160 minutes of music -- I'll provide some of the highlights.

Volume 1 begins, appropriately enough, with "Minnie Adams' House Reel," a tune Macmillan says "fell out of the walls" the first time he visited the house in 1991. Macmillan leads the way with nimble fingers on lead guitar, dogged all the way by Jon Goodman's pennywhistle. Supporting musicians are Doris Mason on piano and Brian Doyle on rhythm guitar. Mason takes the next track for the wistful song "If Ever You Were Mine" -- she sings with great emotion while accompanying herself on piano. Macmillan lends a hand on guitar. Then he does a solo round on the guitar for "Mine'R Jigs."

Rodney MacDonald shows off his Cape Breton fiddle skills on "The Delhi Siege Medley," aided by Macmillan on guitars. Macmillan follows up with another intricate guitar solo on "The Runout Group" and the mellower "Sir Lulu." Then Goodman returns, this time with the Irish flute, for a gorgeous "Joys of Brotherhood Medley," which begins slow and reverent, then picks up the pace (and Macmillan's guitar) for a lively finish. (The mid-tune fade-out is, unfortunately, an odd and awkward way to end an otherwise good track.) Then Macmillan solos on his bouncy "Toyota Tailpipe" before joining Brian Doyle for a guitar duet on "Romper River." Several more instrumentals round out the album, which ends with another expressive song from Mason, her own"Your Beauty," which pays tribute to the shores of Cape Breton. ("Heaven should look this good....")

Volume 2, which features a different set of musicians and was recorded a year after the first, gets off to a lively start with Macmillan's "The Big Pig Jigs," supported on rhythm guitar by Jimmy Rankin. Lisa MacIsaac demonstrates her own fiddling abilities on "The Mabou Ridge Medley," then Macmillan solos on his jazzy "Iddle-Doo Polka." The first song on this CD is the very lovely "Is It You That I Remember" by Janet Munson, who provides gorgeous vocals and atmospheric violin. Jamie Gatti adds bass and Macmillan, of course, supplies the guitar.

Gatti shows his chops on the electric bass in "The Mathematician," a jaw-dropping instrumental duet with Macmillan. I'm surprised I didn't wear out the repeat button on this one. There's a new arrangement of "Minnie Adams" House Reel" with this new batch of musicians, MacIsaac's excellent "Jigs on Two Legs" fiddle medley with Macmillan, the relaxed jazz of "Back Yard Swing" for Gatti and Macmillan on bass and guitar, and Munson's lush violin on Macmillan's "Rambling in D Minor," among others, leading up to
the wonderful Rankin song, "The Wicker Man." This lowkey ballad, for vocals and two guitars, is achingly beautiful, and actually edged "The Mathematician" for the most times repeated.

Volume 3 opens with a third, albeit brief, interpretation of "Minnie Adams' House Reel" with the new musical lineup. After another solo by Macmillan on "Jigging on the Back Steps," he's joined by singer/guitarist Lennie Gallant for Gallant's mellow seafaring song
"Knots and Tangles." Then Douglas Reach joins Macmillan for a guitar duet of "Strathcona Park," Reach's clever arrangement of "Sally Gardens."

Jerry Holland is the featured fiddler on this album, and he makes a bold entrance with Macmillan for "The Dancing Jigs." After another solo piece for Macmillan ("Caledonia's Salute"), he's joined by Bernard Felix on accordion for the lively "Grandfather's Jigs." The tireless stepdancer who percusses his or her way through the set is, alas, not identified. After another few instrumental sets, Gallant sings the very tender "Island Clay," which speaks to anyone who's seen family farms fold under the pressure of big-industry agricultural corporations; he's singing here about the dying farms on his native Prince Edward Island. The final track matches up Holland on fiddle, Macmillan on guitar and Reach on accordion -- and, wow, an amazing set it is! The fiddle and accordion both blaze their way through the final tunes, a fitting end to an excellent CD series.

There's no way around it. If you have even a slight fondness for Cape Breton music and the talented musicians who call Cape Breton home, this is a set you must have in your collection. (What do you say, Scott? When do we see Volume 4?

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- Rambles

"Rosy, resonant glories Currents of Sable one of Macmillan’s best works"

Rosy, resonant glories Currents of Sable one of Macmillan’s best works

By STEPHEN PEDERSEN Arts Reporter | Concert Review
Sun. Jul 6, 2008

Scott Macmillan leads a rehearsal of Currents of Sable at St. Patrick’s Church, Brunswick Street, Halifax, before the world premiere of the work on Thursday night. Currents of Sable was played by a small ensemble including, violin, cello, electric harp, French horn, penny whistles and percussion. (Eric Wynne / Staff)

Thursday was a big night for Halifax composer Scott Macmillan in St. Patrick’s Church. The vast, cathedral like building, one of Halifax’s architectural and aesthetic treasures, was packed for the premiere of his latest work, Currents of Sable.

The 20th anniversary performance of his well-known Celtic Mass For The Sea, with its poetic libretto compiled by Jennyfer Brickenden, completed the circle for the Music of Sand and Sea program, which began with the Blue Engine String Quartet playing three sea songs, and included a reading by Silver Donald Cameron of passages from his book, The Living Beach.

Currents of Sable, a setting of Halifax poet Jill MacLean’s evocative poem Sable Island 44°N 60°W, was played by a small ensemble including violin, cello, electric harp, French horn, penny whistles and percussion. Laurel Browne contributed her powerful, true soprano and behind the performers, artist Holly Cole painted a picture of Sable Island on silk that had been stretched within a large metal frame.

It wasn’t just a moment it was many moments, not just for Currents of Sable but for all two and a half hours of the performances, in which the audience was held enthralled by St. Patrick’s rosy and resonant glories.

MacLean’s poem imposed shape and sequence upon Macmillan’s exuberant imagination, making Currents one of his best works not just for textures and sonorities, always reliable aspects of his work, but for proportion and balance of the piece as a whole, where sometimes, but not here, his tunes have run a little wild.
Macmillan’s original musical imagery complemented MacLean’s word paintings of wind and wave, shifting sands and wild grass, and her theme of mortality and change imaged in a mare sniffing her dead foal which is already becoming part of a new dune.

His choice of colours with horn and harp, whistles and strings and his own playing of electric guitar, with Coffey lightly and delicately balancing cymbal and rain-drum, created an ambiance of sonorities to cushion the words, over and within which Browne’s voice soared like a windswept gull triangulating sand, shore and sea-surge.
Meanwhile, on Cole’s blank silk-screen, Sable Island gradually emerged, as vivid and biting as the taste of saltwater blown across the lips.

Cameron added yet another dimension as an introduction to Currents of Sable. He read a section of The Living Beach which describes in a striking mix of scientific and metaphoric language, the life of a wave as it travels from somewhere in the Eastern Atlantic all the way to the beaches of Sable and Nova Scotia. A second reading placed it all in context as he grappled, by way of his customary penetration, with the question of what a beach means.

The Cape Breton Chorale, The Inverness County Singers, and additional singers who had performed the Celtic Mass For The Sea before, sang the way only people with a cultural and maybe even a genetic disposition to vocal harmony can sing.
Their energy and their robust sound never flagged once for the hour and a quarter they stood on their feet. They gave their voices to Macmillan’s prolific melodies and harmonies with stunning effect.

Both text and style have worn well over the two decades since I reviewed the premiere of this work. It’s as durable as the Cape Breton Highlands, and just as invigorating as the crisp air of their pine and sea-scented plateaus.

Both Brickenden’s choices and arrangements of the words she compiled from old Celtic sources take on a glow, which is amplified and developed by the lavish stream of melody and orchestration and the power of the choral writing. If the Celtic Mass has a fault, it is not to be found in any instant of the work. The balance of elements is edgy and inspired, between full-voiced choral ensembles, symphonic instrumentation and Celtic ensemble with its biting Uillean pipes (Glen Coolen) and its delicate use of mandolin (Louis Benoit) and Celtic harp (Karen Rokos) and the unique tone of Janet Munson’s fiddle as well as the hearty tone of Brian Doyle’s guitar and Jamie Gatti’s bass.

It is a fault of abundance, if, in this work, it can be considered a fault at all. Rather, I could not help wishing that, in addition to the glories already mentioned, Macmillan had re-orchestrated a section or two for Laurel Browne to sing.

But never mind. The Celtic Mass For The Sea is a masterpiece and its powerful musical impact, especially in a space like that of St. Patrick’s church, is increased rather than diminished by the passage of the years.

- Halifax Herald

"Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony concert offers taste of East Coast with Scott Macmillan and Bernie Felix"

St. Paddy’s Day concert offers taste of East Coast

March 12, 2010

The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony will go a little green this weekend as the wildly entertaining music of the east coast rocks Kitchener in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.

In a concert entitled From The Rock, Newfoundland’s virtuoso accordion player Bernard Felix will partner with Cape Breton’s Scott Macmillan, a guitarist, conductor, composer and multiple East Coast Music Awards winner. Together they make quite the team.

“The first time we met was on stage for a symphony rehearsal,” said Macmillan. Felix added that “I had no idea what a Scott Macmillan was.” Macmillan then said “I haven’t heard you sing yet. ” To which Felix responded “there’s a good reason for that.”

And so goes the conversation with these two lively characters, who constantly shoot off playful little jabs along with a whole lot of praise.

“He’s a sweetheart,” said Macmillan, to which Felix responds “he’s a sweetheart, too.” Their banter might be partly fun and partly love fest, but theirs is a relationship based on a deep respect and admiration for each others’ talents, despite the fact that Felix can’t sing.

Felix was born, raised and still lives in the tiny Francophone community of Black Duck Brook, on Newfoundland’s west coast. Not interested in hanging out with children his own age, Felix preferred to soak up music played at the many house parties that were the centre of Newfoundland culture while he was growing up.

He taught himself to play accordion by listening to recordings. In the mid-1980s, he moved to Ontario for a short time for work and nearly lost his ability to play after a punch press sliced off three fingers. Two were successfully reattached but it would be two years before Felix was able to play as well as before the accident.

How does he manage?

With great flourish, Felix waggles his damaged fingers to indicate that even the reattached digits are crooked, though playing the accordion has kept everything flexible.

“Accordion playing is good for people who lost their fingers,” he says with a grin.

Five years ago, he broke his hand when a tire he was pumping up exploded. Yet neither slicing machines nor exploding tires could keep Felix from his beloved accordion, which is as much a part of his body as his limbs or his heart.

In his career, Felix has performed for royalty and heads of state, in Canada and Europe. Yet he’s still just that Canadian East coaster with enough energy to light a stage. And to pump the action up even higher, Felix plays sitting down, with his feet tapping out a jig or a reel on a wooden board, in the French Canadian tradition. Macmillan added with delight, “it’s like having a snapping snare drum.”

Macmillan is renowned as a conductor, a composer and a guitarist. It was during the 2005 East Coast Music Awards that Canadian singing icon Rita MacNeil announced that he had been an integral contributor to her success. He had an equally important role in lifting both the Rankin Family Band and the Nova Scotia Mass Choir to their present fame. As a composer, he has received numerous accolades and awards and several of his compositions will be performed during the concert, along with traditional East Coast, Irish and even Scottish music.

For the symphony, this style of music might be a departure from Bach or Rachmaninoff, but he is certain the orchestra is up for a little lighthearted, toe-tapping tunes.

“It will be fun for them,” said Macmillan. “They’ll love it.”

Felix will perform nine songs, six with the orchestra, which will have to follow the beat of his toe tapping, as Macmillan conducts. Felix and Macmillan will also perform as a trio with violinist and symphony concert master Stephen Sitarski.

Macmillan has performed with the K-W Symphony in the past and had struck up a friendship with Sitarski. It was on a visit to Macmillan’s Cape Breton home that Sitarski met Felix during a performance at a local venue. The three men spent a rousing evening together, playing music. It was that connection that brought the musicians to Kitchener.

The 2009 Canadian Open Stepdance Champion Sarajayne Sweetland of Ingersoll will perform at the Kitchener concerts along with Macmillian and Felix.


From the Rock

Tonight (Friday, March 12) and Saturday, March 13, 8 p.m.,Centre In The Square, Kitchener

For tickets, call 519-745-4711 or toll-free 1-888-745-4717 or online at
- By Valerie Hill, Record staff


**2012 ECMA winner 'Within Sight of Shore'; for Classical Recording of the Year Composer/performer/co-producer; April 16th 2011

**2012 ECMA winner, 'Within Sight of Shore' for DVD of the Year; Composer/performer/co-producer; April 16th 2011

*2011 ECMA nominee 'Live Off the Floor' Scott Macmillan & Brian Doyle Sept 11, 2010

*2007 ECMA nominee; Le Grand Cercle, Live Cast Recording; musical director/co-producer; 2006

'Late December' -Rita MacNeil; co-producer/guitarist; 2002

**2002 ECMA Classical Recording winner 'MacKinnon's Brook Suite', Symphony N.S. & Ian McKinnon co-producer/ conductor/composer

'Music of a Thousand Nights', Rita MacNeil; co-producer, arranger, instrumentalist; 1998

'On a Personal Note' Rita MacNeil & Vancouver Symphony Orchestra; Conductor/arranger/guitarist; 1999

**1997 ECMA winner & 1998 ECMA nominee 'Scott Macmillan Presents: The Minnie Sessions Vol. **1, *2 & *3' composer/co-producer/guitarist; 96/97/98

'Joyful Sounds, a Seasonal Collection' Rita MacNeil; co-producer and arranger; 1996

'An East Coast Tribute Vol. 1 & Vol. 2' Stan Rogers, ; music director;/instrumentalist; 1995/96

The Rankin Family; Collection; location producer in Ireland with Chieftains; 1996

'Endless Seasons' The Rankin Family; Pre production; 1995

Here and Now; Canada Council's CD, 50 years of the UN: Benedictus - Celtic Mass for the Sea; 1996

**1997 ECMA winner *Puirt a Baroque; 'Bach Meets Cape Breton' co-arranger/composer/ guitarist 1995

*1994 ECMA nominee 'Celtic Mass for the Sea' for choir, Celtic ensemble & strings, composer/arranger;

*1994 ECMA nominee 'GUITAR SOULS: LIVE' Dave MacIsaac and Scott Macmillan co-producer/performer



Once inked, a Scott Macmillan biography is at once out of date, for he and his passion for creating music have already moved on to a new composition, arrangement commission, collaboration, performance, musical directing live or in the studio, conducting, teaching, or as a clinician. Driven by his need to be creative Macmillan seeks opportunities in all aspects of music making. That love has inspired exploration into genres from rock to blues, classical to choral, Celtic to jazz, as well as modern and avant-garde.

Music has taken Macmillan to places, like Carnegie Hall in New York, to perform his much loved ode to our world’s oceans “Celtic Mass for the Sea”, with his partner and librettist Jennyfer Brickenden. He has performed in the British Isles and Germany, the US and has crossed Canada many times to conduct orchestras, perform, make television and radio shows and sound tracks for films. Yet the many who seek out his talents know that Nova Scotia, the home of his birth, is where to find him.

A musical treasure, Macmillan has played a significant role expanding audiences for Atlantic Canadian music both nationally and internationally for over 30 years. Acknowledged by Rita MacNeil as an integral contributor to her success, Scott has played an equally pivotal role in the rise of the Rankin Family Band, Symphony Nova Scotia’s Maritime Pops programming and the Nova Scotia Mass Choir.

Ultimately, it’s the connections with people that feed Macmillan, inspiring and motivating his performances and creative talent. “When I create, I think of the people in the audience first and then I think of the musicians”. “It’s the thrill of creating something for people that no one else has done, but when they hear it, they feel like they have heard it before,” enthuses Macmillan. That ethic continues to inspire audiences and musicians to love Scott’s works such as “MacKinnon’s Brook Suite”, “Currents of Sable Island”, “Suite Silver Dart” and “Within Sight of Shore”. Scott has taken his guitar prowess into his myriad of music styles. An animated performer Scott lets loose composing and performing with his12-piece jazz ensemble, “Scott 'n the Rocks”, and in his musically challenging guitar duo with Brian Doyle.

Inspired by his desire to learn and expand his own musical knowledge and how as the best students make the best teachers, Scott has joined the Faculty of Music at Dalhousie University to mentor a new generation of guitarists.

Awards, appointments, commissions and critical reviews all reflect Macmillan’s success establishing his contribution to the music of Nova Scotia and the world. He has shown us, with his live performances and creative works, a great personal legacy of written music, recorded music, and music presented from the grandeur of concert halls to the intimacy living rooms. And while his biography will always be out of date, as he continues to grow and evolve, Scott Macmillan’s musical legacy is lasting and timeless.