The Coronation of King Charles featured some timeless history and ceremony - and also some wonderful music. Much of the music, by composers such as William Byrd, George Frideric Handel and Edward Elgar, was familiar to us from grand state occasions of the past. But there were also 12 newly commissioned pieces by some of Britain's finest contemporary composers.


Who were the 12 composers who gave us new music for a new King?

The 12 composers who wrote music for the Coronation

Andrew Lloyd Webber

A hugely famous and influential musical theatre composer whose best known works include The Phantom of the Opera, Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar and Cats, Lloyd Webber composed the anthem 'O Make a Joyful Noise' for the Coronation.

'I had the good fortune to discuss the text with His Majesty The King,' Lloyd Webber reveals. 'We discussed the writings of Solomon and I suggested adapting Psalm 98 with its message of “Make A Joyful Noise unto the Lord, the King". It seems so appropriate to the moment in the Coronation service.'

Roxanna Panufnik

Roxanna Panufnik is a British composer of Polish heritage. She's the daughter of the composer and conductor Sir Andrzej Panufnik, whose meticulously planned and colourfully orchestrated works often drew on Polish folk music themes.

A prolific composer, Roxanna Panufnik has written music across a wide range of genres and forms including opera, ballet, music theatre, choral works, chamber compositions and music for film and television.

Panufnik's contribution to the Coronation was the Sanctus - the fourth part of the Mass.

Roderick Williams

Williams is a baritone and composer who had the distinction of both composing for and performing at the Coronation. He wrote, along with fellow composers Nigel Hess and Shirley J. Thompson, a piece called 'Be Thou My Vision: Triptych for Orchestra' for the big day.

Roderick Williams is known for the sophistication of his voice, the intelligence of his interpretations, the breadth of the repertoire he takes on and his infectious enthusiasm for life and for everything he does.

Shirley J. Thompson OBE

Shirley has also contributed, like Roderick above and Nigel below, to the piece 'Be Thou My Vision: Triptych for Orchestra', for Charles's Coronation.

Thompson is an English composer, conductor, and violinist of Jamaican descent.

She has composed music across a wide range of forms and ensembles. Her output includes symphonies, concertos, ballets and operas: she has also written music for TV, film, and theatre.

Nigel Hess

Nigel is the third of the trio of composers who created 'Be Thou My Vision: Triptych for Orchestra'.

Somerset-born composer, Hess is best known for his television, theatre and film work. He has written music for the 2004 film Ladies in Lavender, as well as TV productions such as Just William and Vanity Fair - and many scores for Royal Shakespeare Company productions.

He's also the great nephew of the famous pianist Myra Hess.

Iain Farrington

A pianist, organist, composer and arranger, Farrington has already given us two much-loved pieces of music.

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.

Then there was 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.

For the Coronation, Farrington composed an arrangement of Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No. 4, heard as the King and Queen left Westminster Abbey.

Patrick Doyle

Who composed music for King Charles's Coronation - composer Patrick Doyle
Composer Patrick Doyle

An Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe-nominated composer, Patrick Doyle has scored many acclaimed films, among them Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Murder On The Orient Express, Gosford Park, Brave, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and many more.

Doyle composed the King Charles III Coronation March, which was the final piece of music heard before the King and Queen entered Westminster Abbey.

Debbie Wiseman

A British composer for film and television, Debbie Wiseman OBE is also a conductor and a radio and television presenter. Her many film and TV composing credits include Wilde, Tom's Midnight Garden, Wolf Hall, Judge John Deed and The Inspector Lynley Mysteries.

Debbie has extensive experience of writing for Royal occasions. Memorably, she was commissioned to write a piece of music for the official coverage of the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

The piece, entitled 'Elizabeth Remembered', was performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra with Debbie conducting. It was released as a single by Silva Screen Records, with all proceeds going to The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust.

She also wrote music for Her Late Majesty’s Diamond and Platinum Jubilees, as well as her 90th Birthday Celebrations at Windsor Castle.

For the Coronation, Debbie composed a two-part piece, ‘Alleluia (O Clap your Hands)’ and ‘Alleluia (O Sing Praises)’, for the Coronation. ‘O Clap Your Hands’ was sung by the expanded Westminster Abbey Choir, while ‘O Sing Praises’ was performed by The Ascension Choir, the first gospel choir to sing at a Coronation.

Judith Weir

The Scottish composer Judith Weir is the current Master of the King's Music, so her name will have been one of the first on the list to compose for the Coronation!

And indeed, hers was the first piece of new music to be heard, a short overture called ‘Brighter Visions Shine Afar’ for the pre-service performance.

Who composed music for Charles's Coronation - Judith Weir
Composer and Master of the King's Music, Judith Weir

‘Brighter Visions Shine Afar’ was the first performance by the Coronation Orchestra, which consisted of musicians from the Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Opera House Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and others, conducted by Sir Antonio Pappano.

Sarah Class

An Emmy-nominated composer and singer-songwriter, Sarah Class has scored documentaries, natural history TV films and other television projects. These include 'Africa', the six-part BBC TV series narrated by Sir David Attenborough.

For the Coronation, Sarah composed 'Sacred Fire', which uses music and Biblical imagery to evoke a bridge between the angelic and human realms. 'Sacred Fire' was sung by the acclaimed South African soprano Pretty Yende.

Paul Mealor

Paul Mealor is a Welsh composer who has written an extensive output of music, much of it for accompanied and unaccompanied chorus. However, Paul has also composed an opera, three symphonies, concerti and chamber music.

Paul's contribution to the Coronation is particularly interesting as it was the first-ever Welsh-language piece to be performed at a British coronation. It was a setting of the Kyrie eleison, the first part of the traditional Mass (or Mass Ordinary), and was performed by bass-baritone Sir Bryn Terfel and the Choir of Westminster Abbey.

Paul also features in our feature on best Welsh composers.

Tarik O'Regan

A London-born, San Francisco-based composer, Tarik O'Regan (pictured top) wrote a setting of another part of the Mass, the Agnus Dei, for the Coronation.


O'Regan grew up predominantly in Croydon, South London, spending some of his childhood in Morocco, where his mother was born, and in Algeria. Much of the composer's recent work investigates and draws on his dual Arab and Irish heritages.

More like this


Steve Wright
Steve WrightMulti-Platform Content Producer, BBC Music Magazine

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.