Leading British orchestras and choirs pay tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II through music

11 September 2022, 23:57 | Updated: 13 September 2022, 12:35

The late Queen Elizabeth II championed classical music, held Patronages with high-profile Arts institutions, and regularly attended concerts.
The late Queen Elizabeth II championed classical music, held Patronages with high-profile Arts institutions, and regularly attended concerts. Picture: Getty

By Sophia Alexandra Hall

Here’s how the classical music world has said their goodbyes to Queen Elizabeth II.

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Following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, leading British classical music ensembles have taken to social media to share their moving musical goodbyes.

The late Queen was a champion of classical music, regularly attending concerts and holding patronages over various musical institutions including the Royal Academy of Music and the charity, Help Musicians UK.

A pianist in her younger years, Her Majesty had not one, but two honorary degrees in Music – a Bachelor of Music (BMus) from the University of London and a Doctor of Music (DMus) from the University of Wales.

The news of Her Majesty’s death was announced at 6.30pm BST on Thursday 8 September 2022. One hour later, the Voices of Classic FM, The Sixteen, began their planned concert at Exeter Cathedral with a programme of English choral music.

What was already an emotional programming of Hubert Parry’s Songs Of Farewell – a collation of six choral motets – took on a whole new meaning following the announcement.

The choir shared the final song of the set, ‘Lord, let me know mine end’ in a tribute to the late monarch across their social media.

Read more: A guide to Queen Elizabeth II’s contribution to classical music and the arts

Hubert Parry was an early 20-century English composer, and his setting of ‘I Was Glad’ – based on verses from Psalm 122 – was performed at the coronation of the last three monarchs, including Queen Elizabeth II, who processed into Westminster Abbey to his music.

The Sixteen posted the recording to YouTube with the caption, “Everyone at The Sixteen is greatly saddened by the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

“At this sad time, we send our condolences to the entire Royal Family and join with everyone around the country and the world who mourns her loss.

“It is our belief that the music The Sixteen performs, with its great ability to bring solace and inner-calm is exactly what is needed at a time like this.

“This performance of Parry’s ‘Lord, let me know mine end’, was filmed at Exeter Cathedral on 8 September, and we hope it provides a fitting and moving tribute to one of the country’s most treasured monarchs.”

Read more: Classic FM joins The Sixteen for a special royal concert live from the Tower of London

The London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) is one of the world’s leading ensembles, and Her Majesty had been the orchestra’s Patron since her accession to the throne 70 years ago.

Conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, the LSO shared a video of their rendition of ‘God Save the Queen’, with the orchestra standing up to perform, and wearing concert blacks.

In a caption to their video, the LSO wrote: “The London Symphony Orchestra is deeply saddened by the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

“The Orchestra is privileged to have hosted Her Majesty at many of its concerts and events – from opening the Barbican Centre in 1982, to hosting a gala at Buckingham Palace in 2015. The Queen was present at some of the most significant moments in our history and was a loyal and committed supporter of the orchestra throughout her reign.

“The London Symphony Orchestra sends its condolences to the Royal Family at this sad time and joins the nation in mourning our much-loved monarch.”

Read more: What are the lyrics to Britain’s national anthem and who composed it?

The LSO was not the only orchestra to post a poignant performance of the National Anthem.

The National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain (NYO), an ensemble of talented teenage musicians aged between 13 and 19 years old, shared their rendition of ‘God Save the Queen’ the day after the announcement.

The 160-strong orchestra, also dressed in concert blacks, stood for the minute-and-a-half performance out of respect for the late Queen.

In a statement on its website, the orchestra focused on Queen Elizabeth II’s leadership skills from a young age. “The whole NYO community is inspired by the extraordinary commitment, hope and courage of Her Majesty the Queen across seven decades,” the youth orchestra said.

“At just 21 years of age, Princess Elizabeth vowed that her life would be devoted to the service of her people, and she did not falter.

“We are all saddened by her death and join with everyone across the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and the world to offer our deepest sympathy to HRH King Charles III and the Royal Family.”

World-renowned chamber orchestra, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, shared a performance of English composer Edward Elgar’s Serenade for Strings.

Elgar, like Parry, has a strong connection with royalty, and was the Master of the King's Musick from 1924 to 1934.

In 1930, Elgar dedicated one of his final compositions, the Nursery Suite to Princess Elizabeth, who was a toddler, along with her newborn sister Margaret and their mother, the then Duchess of York.

In the video’s description, the Academy shared, “An extraordinary lifetime of dedicated and steadfast service, the Academy joins the nation in mourning the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and in offering our condolences and thoughts to the Royal Family.

“We share our reflection how we know best, through music in Elgar’s Serenade for Strings. May she rest in peace.”