Opera Composition - Shortlisted 2012
It is very important to Stuart MacRae to retain a high level of musical sophistication in his dramatic works. “While the medium of opera offers the opportunity to explore a wide palette of colours, moods, styles and emotions, this should not be at the expense of the richness of the musical experience.”
He also believes that opera today should have a modern sophistication in its style and content. “When we look at the innovations in TV drama series in the last decade (such as The Wire) it seems clear that 21st century opera should also explore the world at large, through the experiences and relationships of its characters.”
In keeping with this ambition, in his short chamber opera Remembrance Day, MacRae uses a collage technique to define his characters more sharply in a short space of time and to give the music and drama a “fluid, dynamic changeability”. The collage effect is created by backing each of the main characters with a different combination of instruments and materials which overlap when a particular moment in the drama concerns more than one person.
MacRae has won a number of awards for his work, including two Royal Philharmonic Society Awards for Large-scale Composition. He has also been commissioned to create orchestral and operatic pieces for the BBC, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden and the London Sinfonietta. His opera The Assassin Tree, created with renowned poet Simon Armitage, headlined at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2006.