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The Clements Blog

Prince William and Kate Middleton: Music for the Royal Wedding

Thursday, 28th April 2011 | 0 comments

It is, of course, the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate (or Catherine!) Middleton on Friday, and music will be playing a big part in the proceedings – so here's a quick run-down of what's being planned:

  • The musicians performing include The Choir of Westminster Abbey, The Chapel Royal Choir, The London Chamber Orchestra, the State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry and the Fanfare Team from the Central Band of the Royal Air Force, together with the great organ of Westminster Abbey.
  • The music is very British, with composers including Benjamin Britten, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Vaughan Williams, Paul Mealor, and John Rutter.
  • Also included are the hymn Jerusalem and the anthem I Was Glad by the Irish composer Hubert Parry (which, incidentally, both also featured at my own wedding!)
  • Music from Benjamin Britten's opera Gloriana will be performed, which was originally written for the coronation of the groom's grandmother – Queen Elizabeth II, of course. Like many great works, it was rather poorly received at the premiere but has since become a favourite and a recognised masterpiece.
  • Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, who is the current Master of the Queen's Music (a post equivalent to the Poet Laureate and formerly held by Edward Elgar, among others), was quite controversially not asked to write some new music for the wedding, but his Farewell to Stromness will be performed all the same. Perhaps Sir Peter is busy – he is currently writing a Ninth Symphony for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012.
  • All parts of the United Kingdom are represented: England in the hymn Jerusalem ("And did those feet in ancient time…"), Vaughan William's Fantasia on Greensleeves, Wales in his Prelude on Rhosymedre and the hymn Cwm Rhondda ("Guide me, O thou great Redeemer") and Scotland in Maxwell Davies' Farewell to Stromness.
  • New music has been specially composed for the event by the Welsh composer Paul Mealor, who lives in Anglesey where William and Kate currently live.

The grand finale to the wedding – at least, for campanologists – will be a very complicated peal of Westminster Abbey's bells. There will be 5,040 changes in all, taking the 10 ringers of the Westminster Abbey Company of Ringers around three and a half hours!

For those of us not able to attend in person, the "Official Programme" for the wedding can be viewed online.


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