Music at the National Service of Thanksgiving and Dedication, St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh

Published 03 July 2023

Five new pieces of music, including one composed in Gaelic, have been commissioned by His Majesty The King for the National Service of Thanksgiving and Dedication at St Giles’ Cathedral on Wednesday 5th July 2023, in celebration of Their Majesties’ Coronation.

The new commissions will join a rich mix of music performed at the Service to reflect Scottish history and culture with performers representative of contemporary Scotland.

Balmoral Flourishes, a new commission by composer Paul Mealor (b. 1975), will be performed by The State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry to begin the Service. A Gaelic Psalm by Paul Mealor, written especially for the Service will be sung by Joy Dunlop, in recognition of Scotland’s linguistic heritage.

A new arrangement of Scottish folk songs chosen by The King and arranged by Ayrshire-born composer Jay Capperauld will be performed by The Honours of Scotland Ensemble. Jay Capperauld, a graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, is one of Scotland’s most distinguished young composers and currently holds the position of Associate Composer of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

The Honours of Scotland Ensemble is made up of musicians from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Scottish Ballet Orchestra, all of which His Majesty was Patron as Prince of Wales. The Ensemble will join The Choir of St Giles’ Cathedral conducted by Master of the Music Michael Harris and the National Youth Choir of Scotland Chamber Choir, conducted by Mark Evans.

Scottish violinist, Festival Director of Edinburgh International Festival and Honorary President of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Nicola Benedetti joins The Honours of Scotland Ensemble for Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ Farewell to Stromness and Rebecca Dale’s arrangement of ‘Soay’ from The Lost Songs of St Kilda; trumpeter Aaron Azunda Akugbo and St Giles’ Assistant Organist Jordan English perform Henry Purcell’s Trumpet Tune; and classical accordionist Ryan Corbett, who graduates from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland on 6th July, performs Loch Katrine’s Lady by Phil Cunningham.

A new commission by Joanna Gill, A Song of Thanksgiving and Dedication, set in Doric, which is spoken in the northeast of Scotland, will be performed by Scottish mezzo-soprano singer and Patron of the National Youth Choir of Scotland National Girls’ Choir Karen Cargill and instrumentalists and composers The Ayoub Sisters. The piece was composed as a tribute to The Queen as Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, of which Joanna is a graduate.

At the conclusion of the Service, Fanfare Trumpeters of the Band of the Royal Air Force College and the Honours of Scotland Ensemble will perform Paul Mealor’s Recessional: The Call of Lochnagar. The new march has been written with Their Majesties’ love for Balmoral and the surrounding countryside in mind.

A performance before the start of the Service will include music composed or arranged by the likes of George Frederick Handel (1685-1759), Cecilia McDowall (b. 1951), Hamish MacCunn (1868-1916), Sir James MacMillan (b. 1959), Sir Hugh Roberton (1874-1952), Henry Purcell (1659-1695), Errollyn Wallen (b. 1958), Judith Weir (b. 1954) Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958), Sir Peter Maxwell Davies (1934-2016), Dougie MacLean (b. 1954) and Jay Capperauld (b. 1989), as well as traditional tunes set to the words of Robert Burns (1759-1796).

On their involvement in the Ceremony:

Paul Mealor (Composer):

Paul Mealor is Professor of Musical Composition at the University of Aberdeen and has written music for the Wedding of The Prince and Princess of Wales in 2011, The Scottish and Welsh National Services of Thanksgiving for the life of Queen Elizabeth II and for the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla.

“It is an incredible honour and indeed very moving to have been asked to contribute to The Honours of Scotland service. This ancient service stretches back centuries and to be able to add something new to it, in honour of The King and Queen is truly humbling.”

Joanna Gill (Composer):

"It is a huge honour and privilege to be asked to write the music for this special Scottish folk song and a real thrill to be inspired by my home country for such a wonderful occasion."

Jay Capperauld (Composer):

“It is a great privilege to have been asked to compose this new piece ‘Schiehallion!’ for the Honours of Scotland ceremony and to celebrate Scottish culture through traditional tunes that have been specially selected by King Charles III to reflect His Majesty’s personal connection with Scotland.”


New Commissions by His Majesty The King

Schiehallion! (Jay Capperauld b. 1989)

Performed by The Honours of Scotland Ensemble.


Balmoral Flourishes (Paul Mealor, b.1975)

Performed by The State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry.


Psalm 23: IS CÒMHNAICHEAM AN ÀROS DHÈ (And I shall dwell in God’s House) (Paul Mealor, b. 1975)

Performed by Joy Dunlop.


A Song of Thanksgiving and Dedication (Joanna Gill)

Performed by Karen Cargill, the Ayoub Sisters and the Honours of Scotland Ensemble.


Recessional: The Call of Lochnagar (Paul Mealor, b. 1975)              

Performed by Fanfare Trumpeters of the Band of the Royal Air Force College, the Honours of Scotland Ensemble and Jordan English.

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