With his computer and telephone at his bedside and with the help of family and friends, he is assembling The Aaron McMillan Piano Collection — nine CDs incorporating his recordings over the past 12 years, from improvisations to two Sydney Opera House recitals and works by 28 Australian composers including Peter Sculthorpe.
The collection will be launched tonight at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music; several pianists will play a short concert and a speech by McMillan, who is unable to leave his bed, will be shown on video.
Broadcaster Alan Jones, who contributed A$35,000 towards the production of the CDs, told the Herald, "He's a most gifted pianist and has been unfairly overtaken by this scourge, but he has an indomitable spirit. When he said his enduring wish was to put all this together, I thought it was amazing. You pitch in."
McMillan's career was interrupted by a brain tumor six years ago, but he went on to record an album, released in 2002. In 2003 he played Chopin, Liszt, Schubert, Brahms and Rachmaninoff at a recital in the Sydney Opera House concert hall.
But McMillan is reportedly impatient with talk of dying and is working on composing a piano concerto "in the style of Schubert," who died at age 31 without having written one. He told the Herald, "I can go on to my life's love of composing. That's what I absolutely promised myself. This finishes and that starts, the same day, and let's see how many weeks or months it takes me."