International Success for Local Composer

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You may remember a few years ago, Nicki wrote a Big Personality story on a woman who defied all stereotypes to become the CEO of PKAVS, President of the Rotary and discover a love of motorbikes. She did all this as a music graduate whose original passion of playing and creating had been put to one side in order to help and support some of our local community’s most vulnerable people.

That woman is Helen MacKinnon and 18 months ago, she followed her heart back into music and embarked on a professional composing career. Helen had worked with community choirs, orchestras and ensembles throughout Tayside as both a composer and arranger but decided to take the plunge and move into a professional capacity a year-and-a-half ago, and she’s never looked back.

Helen MacKinnon - Prague RecordingSince then, Helen has already received commissions from across the UK and even enjoyed a European premiere of her work in Italy this summer – pretty impressive in such a short space of time. And things don’t look like slowing down anytime soon either, as the Perthshire artist has been selected as one of several international composers to feature on a choral compilation album set to be released in 2018.

The album will be produced by PARMA Recordings, who are based in New Hampshire in the USA and signed Helen as an artist earlier this year. The album will showcase some of the world’s best contemporary composers and it will feature Helen’s award-winning setting of Gloria in excelsis Deo – even for someone who hasn’t got the first clue about music, it’s obvious this is a big deal!

Last week Helen travelled to Prague to record her music with the Prague Mixed Chamber Choir under the direction of one of the continent’s most respected conductors – Jiří Petrdlík. It was a fantastic experience to work with such talented musicians and a skilled recording team in Prague. This fantastic choir will take Helen’s piece into their repertoire and perform it live throughout 2018, so if you’re booking a weekend away to the Czech Republic anytime next year keep your eyes peeled for tickets to a performance!

Helen may only be 18 months into her professional composing career, but she’s already making massive strides and signing with her US-based audio production company and now featuring on the upcoming compilation album is unsurprisingly something she’s excited about.

“I’m delighted to be part of this exciting venture with PARMA Recordings. It was a fantastic experience to work with such talented musicians and a skilled recording team in Prague, and to see this choral work brought to life.”

Helen’s piece Gloria in excelsis Deo has already been an international success and has been well-received throughout the music world. In 2015, the piece was awarded at the International Competition of Choral Composition having been judged by a prestigious panel led by film composer and Academy Award winner, Ennio Morricone.  That commendation saw Helen take a trip to Italy to represent Scotland in the awards ceremony.

It’s been a great year so far for Helen and 2018 is already shaping up to be a big one too. We can’t wait to get our copy of the album when it’s released!


For more details about Helen’s music and projects, visit composerhelen on Facebook.

Keep your eyes peeled on Small City for news on when the compilation album will be released!

Photography in this article is by Fraser Band Photography.



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