Who is Iain Farrington?
Meet Iain Farrington, one of the composers writing music for King Charles's coronation
Composer Iain Farrington is one of the composers who has been chosen to write music for the Coronation of King Charles. He also wrote two rather special pieces of music for the 2020 and 2022 Proms - more on those in a moment.
Here's all you need to know about Iain.
Who is Iain Farrington?
Iain Farrington is a pianist, organist, composer and arranger. He has made many recordings, and has been seen and heard on BBC Television, Classic FM and BBC Radio Three.
Read more of our Coronation composers series:
How old is Iain Farrington?
Iain was born in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, in 1977. He grew up in Hitchin. Iain later studied at the Royal Academy of Music, London and at Cambridge University.
What is Iain Farrington's musical style?
Iain has a mission to bring live music to as wide an audience as possible. His concert programmes often feature a mixture of classical with pop and jazz elements.
Iain has also produced many chamber orchestral arrangements, which have allowed ensembles to perform large-scale works on an affordable smaller scale. His own compositions, meanwhile, span a wide range of classical and contemporary music, from virtuoso display pieces to smaller works for performers just starting out with their instruments.
Here's The Bite of the Flumblebee, Iain's jazz-tinged chamber arrangement of Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee:
What music has Iain arranged?
Pieces that Iain has arranged include John Adams' Short Ride in a Fast Machine, Brahms's Symphony No. 2 and Elgar's Cello Concerto, all for chamber orchestra; Debussy's 'Clair de Lune' for flute, viola, cello and harp; and various Mozart pieces, including the Magic Flute and Don Giovanni overtures and the Finale to his Symphony No. 41 ('Jupiter'), arranged for groups of four to six players.
Here is Iain's arrangement of Ravel's Ma mère l'Oye ('Mother Goose') for twelve-piece chamber ensemble:
What did Iain Farrington compose for the 2020 Proms?
For the First Night of the Proms in 2020, and for the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth, Iain composed a large-scale orchestral work, Beethoveniana. A six-minute piece combining themes and motifs from all nine Beethoven symphonies, it was performed by all five BBC orchestras and the BBC Singers, with an accompanying film.
For a British public struggling to cope with the pains of the COVID epidemic and the national lockdowns, Beethoveniana was an enormously uplifting experience.
'Essentially I took Beethoven's music and put it in a musical washing machine to see which colours would run,' Iain explains. 'What's come out is a collage of fragments tied together that sum up his music: heroic, witty, defiant, turbulent, tragic and reflective.
'Beethoveniana also shows the influence Beethoven's music has had on different genres, as well as the stylistic diversity of the Proms itself. Inevitably the turmoil and sadness of the situation found its way into the piece as well, something which was unavoidable.'
The work ends with the Ode to Joy from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, sung to a new text by Sarah Gabriel that reflects on the trauma of the work's background, while offering hope for the future.
What else has Iain Farrington composed?
Then there's A Party with Auntie, an uptempo, jazz-inspired piece that Iain wrote for the BBC's centenary celebrations. The piece features various musical 'quotes' from well-known BBC television and radio theme tunes, across the genres of comedy, news, sport and drama, which get combined and transformed in unexpected ways.
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A Party with Auntie was originally composed for the Last Night of the Proms 2022, but this concert was cancelled owing to the death of Queen Elizabeth II. The piece got its premiere on 21 October 2022 at London's Barbican, with Dalia Stasevska conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
What did Iain Farrington say about being asked to write music for the Coronation?
'It's very special to be a part of something so prestigious and celebratory,' Iain told us.
'I was asked to compose an organ piece that would be a musical tribute to the Commonwealth. It uses traditional and popular songs from numerous Commonwealth countries around the world, in a joyful and dance-like character. Hopefully it will get people's toes tapping!
'The Coronation will be an excellent showcase for the brilliance of our various musicians working in classical music, who are all part of the world-class standard of music making in the UK. It also comes at a time of great anxiety and severe cuts to the industry, and demonstrates what we may lose if music is not given the support that it needs to flourish.'
Steve has been an avid listener of classical music since childhood, and now contributes a variety of features to BBC Music’s magazine and website. He started writing about music as Arts Editor of an Oxford University student newspaper and has continued ever since, serving as Arts Editor on various magazines.