What music featured at His Majesty the King’s coronation at Westminster Abbey?
7 May 2023, 11:56
Bryn Terfel sings at Westminster Abbey coronation
Choirs, orchestras and soloists shone at King Charles’ coronation at Westminster Abbey on 6 May, in a magnificent showcase of British music-making. Here is the music that featured at the ceremony.
His Majesty the King’s coronation took place on Saturday 6 May at Westminster Abbey, where coronations have taken place since 1066.
You can find a complete order of service with full details of all the music in the Westminster Abbey ceremony here.
During the service, there were magnificent solo performances from bass-baritone Sir Bryn Terfel, soprano Pretty Yende and baritone, Roderick Williams, with a special coronation orchestra conducted by Sir Antonio Pappano and a coronation choir under the baton of Andrew Nethsingha.
There were also several newly commissioned works in the service, celebrating leading British composers, alongside great anthems and organ works by Byrd, Elgar and Parry.
Here’s all the music that featured at the King’s coronation service.
Roderick Williams sings at the Westminster Abbey coronation
What music was composed for King Charles’ coronation?
His Majesty the King commissioned twelve new pieces of music for his coronation: six orchestral, five choral and one organ commission, all from world-renowned British composers.
- Andrew Lloyd Webber: Coronation Anthem
- Patrick Doyle: Coronation March
- Iain Farrington: Voices of the World
- Judith Weir: Brighter Visions Shine Afar
- Sarah Class: Sacred Fire
- Nigel Hess: ‘Be Thou my Vision - Triptych for Orchestra’
- Paul Mealor: Coronation Kyrie
- Tarik O’Regan: Agnus Dei
- Roxanna Panufnik: Sanctus
- Shirley J Thompson: ‘Be Thou my Vision - Triptych for Orchestra’
- Roderick Williams: ‘Be Thou my Vision - Triptych for Orchestra’
- Debbie Wiseman: ‘Alleluia (O Clap your Hands)’ and ‘Alleluia (O Sing Praises)’
Mealor’s ‘Coronation Kyrie’ was the first Welsh language work to be performed at a Coronation. On the ground-breaking piece, Mealor said: “It is a cry from the deep soul of the hills and valleys of Wales for hope, peace, love and friendship.”
In another first for the coronation, Wiseman’s two-part composition, featured a gospel choir, the first time this kind of ensemble has performed at the historic royal event.
Who conducted the King’s coronation service?
The service was led by three renowned conductors:
- Andrew Nethsingha
- Antonio Pappano
- Sir John Eliot Gardiner
Andrew Nethsingha, who last year was appointed organist and master of the choristers at Westminster Abbey, directed the music during the service and oversaw all the musical arrangements.
Nethsingha said that the choice of music reflected “the cultural breadth of the age in which we live”.
Italian maestro Sir Antonio Pappano, who is music director at the Royal Opera House, conducted the Coronation Orchestra, a blend of musicians from orchestras of the former Prince of Wales’ Patronages including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Royal Opera House Orchestra and Welsh National Opera Orchestra.
Conductor Sir John Eliot Gardiner led The Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque soloists in a pre-service programme of choral music.
Who performed at the King’s coronation?
- Coronation choirs: Westminster Abbey Choir, plus other choirs
- The Coronation Orchestra
- Sir Bryn Terfel
- Pretty Yende
- Roderick Williams
- Alis Huws
- The Ascension Choir
Leading British soloists, bass-baritone Sir Bryn Terfel, soprano Pretty Yende and baritone, Roderick Williams, performed at the coronation.
Under the baton of Andrew Nethsingha, the service was sung by the Choir of Westminster Abbey and the Choir of His Majesty’s Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, together with girl choristers from the Chapel Choir of Methodist College, Belfast and from Truro Cathedral Choir.
A small group of singers from The Monteverdi Choir also joined the main choral ensemble for the service.
The Ascension Choir, a handpicked gospel choir also performed as part of the service and the King’s Scholars of Westminster School proclaimed the traditional ‘Vivat’ acclamations.
Royal Harpist, Alis Huws, performed as part of the Coronation Orchestra in celebration of the King’s long-standing relationship with Wales.
In tribute to his late father Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at the King’s own request the Byzantine Chant Ensemble performed Greek Orthodox music during the service.
Fanfares were played by the State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry and the Fanfare Trumpeters of the Royal Air Force, and the great abbey organ was played by sub-organist Peter Holder, and assistant organist, Matthew Jorysz.
What other music featured at the King’s coronation?
Music by much-loved English composers Byrd, Handel, Elgar, Walton, Parry, Vaughan Williams and Sir Henry Walford Davies has historically featured at coronations over the past four centuries, and was included in the service.
‘Zadok the Priest’ and ‘I Was Glad’ were standout performances from the choirs.
Two well-known hymns also featured in the service: ‘Christ is made the sure foundation’, and ‘Praise, my soul, the King of heaven’, which was a favourite of the late Queen Elizabeth II.