Stuart MacRae teaches composition at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, including classes on music analysis for composers, contemporary repertoire, and notation. As a Senior Research Fellow, his interests lie in word-setting for the operatic voice, reimagining tonal harmony, and artistic responses to the Anthropocene.
Born in Inverness in 1976, Stuart MacRae has established himself as one of the most distinctive composers working today, writing music of elemental power and emotional subtlety. Equally at home writing opera, orchestral music, chamber music and music for choirs, his works take listeners on a journey through perceptions of nature, striking imagery and the landscape of human emotion.
His numerous staged works range from Echo and Narcissus, a dance-opera premiered at Royal Opera House in 2007, through to 2015’s critically acclaimed The Devil Inside for Scottish Opera and Music Theatre Wales. Ghost Patrol, written in collaboration with writer Louise Welsh, won the 2013 South Bank Sky Arts Award for Opera and was shortlisted for an Olivier Award.
From 1999-2003, he was Composer-in-Association at the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and his works have been performed throughout Europe with groups including the Orchestre National de Lyon, Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, Hungarian Radio Symphony, BBC Symphony, BBC Philharmonic, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Scottish Ensemble, Hebrides Ensemble and Britten Sinfonia, by conductors including Martyn Brabbins, Oliver Knussen, Jan Latham-Koenig, Susanna Malkki, David Robertson, Clark Rundell, Donald Runnicles, John Storgårds and Ilan Volkov.
Numerous works of Stuart MacRae have been performed at the Edinburgh International Festival and BBC Proms, including his 2001 Violin Concerto which had its world premiere at the BBC Proms and has been performed by Tasmin Little, Christian Tetzlaff and Tedi Papavrami.
His music has been recorded for NMC, Black Box, Delphian, Kairos and the London Sinfonietta’s own label.
Recent works include:
- Cantata (2016), for the Choir of Gonville and Caius College Cambridge.
- Piano Sonata No.2 (2016) for Simon Smith.
- Sunrises (2017) for the Gould Piano Trio.
Since 2017, he has been Composer in Association at the Lammermuir Festival.
His newest opera, Anthropocene, premiered in February 2019 with Scottish Opera to a wealth of 4- and 5- star reviews from the press, described as “enthralling” (Daily Telegraph), “evocative” (The Times) and “a wonder of skillful orchestration” (The Guardian). Anthropocene, which is MacRae’s fourth collaboration with librettist Louise Welsh, toured to Theatre Royal Glasgow, King’s Theatre Edinburgh, and the Hackney Empire in London.
Education and past experience
- PhD in Music (Composition), University of Edinburgh (2014)
- MMus in Composition, Guildhall School of Music and Drama (1997)
- BMus (Hons) Music, University of Durham (1996)
Awards and achievements to date
- South Bank Sky Arts Award for opera, for Ghost Patrol (2013)