At a time of classical music funding cuts the coronation will serve as an important reminder about “how wonderful British music-making can be”, according to Andrew Nethsingha who is overseeing the big day’s musical arrangements.
“Actually quite a lot of things are attacking this British music scene at the moment so it’s a good time for people to be reminded of just how important music is.
“At times like this, it’s good for us to be reminded that it can draw people together in such a powerful way.”
With Westminster Abbey now on lockdown and the music itself being kept tightly under wraps, speaking from the grounds outside the abbey, Mr Nethsingha – who will serve as both organist and master of the choristers – says with more than 50% of the service made up of music it will play “a huge part” on the day. As it always has.
Whether you’re indifferent about what’s happening on 6 May, one of the great gifts coronations have brought us is a legacy of brilliant classical music written for royalty.
From Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance Marches through to Handel’s Zadok The Priest – known as the Champions League music to most people – but written for the coronation of King George II back in 1727.
This time around the King has personally commissioned 12 new pieces of music – six orchestral, five choral and one organ commission – from world-renowned British composers, including a coronation anthem by musical impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber and a Coronation March from film composer Patrick Doyle – the man behind the music from Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire.
“The King has played a huge part in all the choices,” Mr Nethsingha insists.
“And, you know, ultimately they’re all his decisions, but I think his interest in music is much greater than it was for his four predecessors as monarch during the 20th century so it’s been very stimulating to talk to him about various ideas, very engaging.
“He always has a twinkle in his eye when discussing possibilities.”
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One of Mr Nethsingha’s “jobs” will be, as he puts it, trying to “absorb the pressure and stress” particularly so that the young choristers aren’t overwhelmed by the occasion.
Singers from five choirs will be involved in the service. As well as the Choir Of Westminster Abbey and the Choir Of His Majesty’s Chapel Royal, choristers from St James’s Palace, the Chapel Choir of Methodist College, Belfast and from Truro Cathedral Choir will also be taking part.
Asael, 11, said: “We’ve been working hard to rehearse all the music and get it prepared.”
For Casper, who is 12, while the experience is “exciting” and “nerve-wracking” at the same time he said “it’s an honour to sing with all the different choirs”.
Edward, 13, said: “It’s a bit scary because so many people will be watching but it’ll be really cool I think.”
Pressure all round to hit the high notes – but a chance to witness an important part of history.
As for those composers commissioned to write original music it is a huge undertaking, not only to musically find a way to best represent this age but to come up with a score that holds its own alongside some of the greatest classical music ever to have been written.