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The Sun Danced, James MacMillan's new score for soprano, chorus and orchestra, celebrates the centenary on 13 October of divine visitations at Fátima in Portugal.

When three shepherd children living near Fátima in Portugal in 1916 reported angelic visitations, few could have predicted the sequence of events that would transform the town into a major pilgrimage site. The following year the children described appearances by the Virgin Mary – "the lady more brilliant than the Sun" – telling them that a divine miracle would occur on 13 October 1917. Newspaper coverage spread the word, attracting over 50,000 to travel to the town, many seeing the sun dancing across the heavens.

To celebrate the centenary of this miraculous event, the Shrine of Fátima has commissioned James MacMillan to create a new work, The Sun Danced, for soprano, choir and orchestra, receiving its premiere in Fátima on 13 October followed by a performance in Lisbon two days later. The 15-minute score will be performed by Elisabete Matos and the Gulbenkian Choir and Orchestra conducted by Joana Carneiro. At the centre of the work is an orchestral fantasy in the form of an instrumental dance describing the solar and spiritual spectacle.

MacMillan describes how "The Sun Danced will receive its premiere in the Basilica at Fátima exactly 100 years after the Miracle of the Sun. The miraculous events made this unremarkable little Portuguese town famous throughout the world, and provided the focus of an amazing ongoing spiritual phenomenon. The texts are taken from the Apparitions of the Angel and of Our Lady, and also from documented verbal expressions from members of the crowd present at the Miracle of the Sun. The work is written in three languages – Latin, English and Portuguese and also includes texts from hymns associated with Fátima – Sanctissimae Trinitatis and Ave Theotokos."

> More info on the Fátima shrine website 

New MacMillan works this season also include a Saxophone Concerto for Amy Dickson with premiere by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra next April and future performances by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and Aurora Orchestra. MacMillan's Trombone Concerto receives territorial premieres in the USA and Germany, St Luke Passsion in Denmark and Belgium and Stabat Mater in the Netherlands.

>  Further information on Work: The Sun Danced

Photo: Philip Gatward

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