Coronation Music at Westminster Abbey
Published 23 February 2023
Twelve newly commissioned pieces of music will be performed at The Coronation of Their Majesties The King and The Queen Consort at Westminster Abbey on Saturday 6 May 2023, showcasing musical talent from across the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.
A range of musical styles and performers blend tradition, heritage and ceremony with new musical voices of today, reflecting The King’s life-long love and support of music and the arts.
His Majesty The King has personally commissioned the new music and shaped and selected the musical programme for the Service.
Andrew Nethsingha, Organist and Master of the Choristers, Westminster Abbey, will be overseeing all musical arrangements and directing the music during the Service.
Sir Antonio Pappano, Music Director for the Royal Opera House, will be conducting the Coronation Orchestra which comprises a bespoke collection of musicians drawn from orchestras of The former Prince of Wales’ Patronages including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Six orchestral commissions, five choral commissions and one organ commission, have been specially composed for the occasion by world-renowned British composers whose work includes Classical, Sacred, Film, Television and Musical Theatre. Commissioned works include a new Coronation Anthem by Andrew Lloyd Webber, a Coronation March by Patrick Doyle, a new commission for solo organ embracing musical themes from countries across the Commonwealth by Iain Farrington plus new works by Sarah Class, Nigel Hess, Paul Mealor, Tarik O'Regan, Roxanna Panufnik, Shirley J. Thompson, Judith Weir, Roderick Williams, and Debbie Wiseman.
Soloists will include bass-baritone, Sir Bryn Terfel; soprano, Pretty Yende and baritone, Roderick Williams. The organ will be played by Sub-Organist, Westminster Abbey, Peter Holder, and Assistant Organist, Westminster Abbey, Matthew Jorysz.
The official Royal Harpist Alis Huws will perform as part of the Coronation Orchestra in recognition of The King’s long-standing and deeply held relationship and affiliation with Wales. One of the liturgical sections of the ceremony will also be performed in Welsh.
At the request of His Majesty, in tribute to his late father His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Greek Orthodox music will also feature in the Service performed by the Byzantine Chant Ensemble.
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.
Fanfares will be played by The State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry and The Fanfare Trumpeters of the Royal Air Force.
Sir John Eliot Gardiner will conduct 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 forces for the Service.
Music by the likes of William Byrd (1543–1623), George Frideric Handel (1685–1759), Sir Edward Elgar (1857–1934), Sir Henry Walford Davies (1869–1941), Sir William Walton (1902–1983), Sir Hubert Parry (1848–1918) and Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872–1958) has historically featured in the Service over the past four centuries and will be included in the programme along with the music of one of Britain’s most loved and celebrated living composers, Sir Karl Jenkins.
On their involvement in the Ceremony:
Andrew Nethsingha (Organist and Master of the Choristers, Westminster Abbey) said:
All Coronation Services are a mixture of deep-rooted tradition and contemporary innovation. As was the case in the four twentieth-century Coronations, the choice of music reflects the cultural breadth of the age in which we live. Coronations have taken place in Westminster Abbey since 1066. It has been a privilege to collaborate with His Majesty in choosing fine musicians and accessible, communicative music for this great occasion.
Sir Antonio Pappano (Music Director, Royal Opera House & Conductor of the Coronation Orchestra) said:
I am deeply honoured to have been chosen by His Majesty to participate in the musical presentations that will embrace the historic occasion of his Coronation. His Majesty has chosen a most beautiful and varied programme that I believe will enhance the splendour of this very special celebration.
Andrew Lloyd Webber (Composer) said:
I am incredibly honoured to have been asked to compose a new anthem for The Coronation. My anthem includes words slightly adapted from Psalm 98. I have scored it for the Westminster Abbey choir and organ, the ceremonial brass and orchestra. I hope my anthem reflects this joyful occasion.
Shirley J. Thompson (Composer) said:
It is with the greatest honour and privilege that I am contributing to the glorious Coronation of His Majesty, King Charles III. Framed by the traditional with the modern, this divine ceremony will represent inclusivity and diversity in their varied manifestations. This auspicious event will also signify the promotion of peace, unity and understanding through the power of music and the arts from cultures across the globe, fully reflecting the vision of our prescient monarch.
Roderick Williams (Composer & Performer) said:
It is hard to put into words how excited and honoured I am to have been chosen both to sing at His Majesty’s Coronation and also to contribute a brand new piece of music. To be a part of this historic occasion is humbling and awe-inspiring. His Majesty’s love of the arts and music in particular is of huge importance to all of us in this profession and we are grateful for the opportunity to showcase British music-making in this most magnificent setting. I look forward to playing my part in this great celebration.