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28 February 2023, 16:49
The King has personally commissioned twelve new pieces of music for his coronation at Westminster Abbey, casting a spotlight on leading British composers and performers.
Buckingham Palace has revealed the music at His Majesty the King’s coronation will include a new Coronation Anthem by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and eleven other pieces personally commissioned by King Charles, from world-renowned British composers.
The service will take place on Saturday 6 May at Westminster Abbey, where coronations have taken place since 1066.
There will be 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.
Describing the musical programme, the Palace said it blends “tradition, heritage and ceremony with new musical voices of today, reflecting The King’s life-long love and support of music and the arts”.
Here are all the details we know so far.
His Majesty the King has commissioned twelve new pieces of music for his coronation: six orchestral, five choral and one organ commission, all from world-renowned British composers.
Commissioned works include a new Coronation Anthem by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and a Coronation March by Scottish film composer, Patrick Doyle (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire).
Lloyd Webber said his anthem, which is scored for the Westminster Abbey choir and organ, and the ceremonial brass and orchestra, includes words from Psalm 98. “I hope my anthem reflects this joyful occasion,” he added.
There will also be new commission for solo organ incorporating musical themes from countries across the Commonwealth by Iain Farrington, plus new works by Master of the King’s Music, Judith Weir, Sarah Class, Nigel Hess, Paul Mealor, Tarik O’Regan, Roxanna Panufnik, Shirley J. Thompson, Roderick Williams, and Classic FM’s Composer in Residence, Debbie Wiseman.
Thompson said it was “the greatest honour and privilege” to be asked to compose music for the coronation. “Framed by the traditional with the modern, this divine ceremony will represent inclusivity and diversity in their varied manifestations,” she added.
Read more: Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral: All the music played during the service
Andrew Nethsingha, who last year was appointed organist and master of the choristers at Westminster Abbey, will direct the music during the service and oversee all the musical arrangements.
Nethsingha said that the choice of music for Saturday 6 May, which also marks the coronation of Camilla, Queen Consort, “reflects the cultural breadth of the age in which we live”.
He added: “It has been a privilege to collaborate with His Majesty in choosing fine musicians and accessible, communicative music for this great occasion.”
Italian maestro Sir Antonio Pappano, who is music director at the Royal Opera House, will conduct the Coronation Orchestra, a blend of musicians from orchestras of the former Prince of Wales’ Patronages including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Read more: All the music at the Duke of Edinburgh funeral’s at St George’s Chapel
Leading British soloists, bass-baritone Sir Bryn Terfel, soprano Pretty Yende and baritone, Roderick Williams, will perform at the coronation.
Williams, who will both sing and contribute a new piece of music, for the ceremony, said: “His Majesty’s love of the arts and music [...] is of huge importance to all of us in this profession and we are grateful for the opportunity to showcase British music-making.”
Under the baton of Andrew Nethsingha, the service will be 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.
The Ascension Choir, a handpicked gospel choir will also perform as part of the service and the King’s Scholars of Westminster School will proclaim the traditional ‘Vivat’ acclamations.
Read more: Music at Westminster Abbey – who are the choristers and organists?
Royal Harpist, Alis Huws, will perform as part of the Coronation Orchestra in celebration of the King’s long-standing relationship with Wales. One of the liturgical sections of the ceremony will also be performed in Welsh.
Conductor Sir John Eliot Gardiner will lead The Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque soloists in a pre-service programme of choral music. A small group of singers from The Monteverdi Choir will also join the main choral ensemble for the service.
In tribute to his late father Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at the King’s own request the Byzantine Chant Ensemble will perform Greek Orthodox music during the service.
Fanfares will be played by the State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry and the Fanfare Trumpeters of the Royal Air Force, and the great abbey organ will be played by sub-organist Peter Holder, and assistant organist, Matthew Jorysz.
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 will be included in the service.
There will also be music by Welsh Adiemus composer Sir Karl Jenkins, “one of Britain’s most loved and celebrated living composers”, the palace added.
Further details will be announced alongside the full music programme in early May 2023.
The day after the coronation, on Sunday 7 May, a concert will be held on Windsor Castle’s East Lawn featuring a 74-piece orchestra made up of the Massed Bands of the Household Division and the Countess of Wessex’s String Orchestra.
According to a statement released by the Royal Household, the Coronation Concert “will see a world-class orchestra play interpretations of musical favourites fronted by some of the world’s biggest entertainers, alongside performers from the world of dance”.
“The performances will be supported by staging and effects located on the Castle’s East Lawn and will also feature a selection of spoken word sequences delivered by stars of stage and screen.”
Alongside the orchestral musicians, the concert will feature a specially created, Coronation Choir that will include singers from “refugee choirs, NHS choirs, LGBTQ+ singing groups and deaf signing choirs” from across the United Kingdom, according to a palace statement.
The Coronation Choir will also be joined by a virtual choir, made up of singers from across the commonwealth, for a performance on the night.