As well as being a grand ceremonial showcase and an event of great historical importance for Britain, King Charles's Coronation also featured an impressive array of performers and composers from the classical music world.


Here's a reminder of the performers who graces Westminster Abbey (and our TV screens) on that memorable day.

Who performed at the Coronation?

Westminster Abbey Choir

The Choir of Westminster Abbey have form in singing at ceremonial occasions: their history dates back 700 years, and they have sung at many a coronation and other grand state occasion during that time.

Who is performing at the Coronation? Westminster Abbey Choir
Westminster Abbey Choir

They were kept busy on Coronation day, singing anthems plus various of the 12 special Coronation commissions.

Who is in the Westminster Abbey Choir?

Membership is made of up to 30 boys, all of them attending the Abbey's own boarding choir school, plus 12 professional adult singers, known as Lay Vicars. Westminster Abbey Choir is one of the UK's best and most prestigious cathedral and abbey choirs.

Andrew Nethsingha

The musical programme at the Coronation itself was directed by Andrew Nethsingha, organist and Master of the Choristers of Westminster Abbey.

The Coronation Orchestra

This specially formed orchestra performed the various orchestral pieces that featured during the service. They began with ‘Brighter Visions Shine Afar’, a short overture composed by Judith Weir, Master of The King’s Music, which kicked off the pre-service performance.

The Coronation Orchestra was formed from members of the various orchestras for whom Charles acted as patron while Prince of Wales. These include the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia, English Chamber Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

Bryn Terfel, bass-baritone

Wales' most famous bass-baritone and an opera singer of many decades' standing, Bryn performed a 'Coronation Kyrie' by a fellow Welshman, the composer Paul Mealor. This was the very first time that a Welsh language piece has been performed at a British Coronation.

Bryn was joined by the Choir of Westminster Abbey for this performance.

Sir Antonio Pappano

The English-Italian conductor Sir Antonio Pappano landed the prestigious job of conducting the Coronation Orchestra on the big day. Currently music director at the Royal Opera House, Pappano will replace Simon Rattle as Chief Conductor of London Symphony Orchestra in September 2024.

Alis Huws, harp

Alis (pictured top) is not just a harpist: she is the Royal Harpist. This means, of course, that she had a special role at the Coronation. Charles reinstated the role of Royal Harpist in 2000, and all Royal Harpists since have been Welsh.

Alis performed Sir Karl JenkinsTros y Garreg (Crossing the Stone)’. Reflecting the King’s long-standing support of Welsh culture, the piece is a new arrangement of Jenkins’ setting of a Welsh folk song, and uses a combination of harp and strings.

Sir John Eliot Gardiner, conductor

The acclaimed conductor Sir John Eliot Gardiner conducted the pre-coronation service concert, also being held at Westminster Abbey. Gardiner conducted two of the ensembles he founded: the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists.

Reginald Mobley, countertenor

The American countertenor performed alongside Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the Monteverdi Choir. Look out for Mobley, also, at the 2023 BBC Proms.

Who is Reginald Mobley
Reginald Mobley. Pic: Richard Dumas

Pretty Yende, soprano

The South African soprano performed the piece 'Sacred Fire' by composer Sarah Class during the pre-coronation performance.

Sarah is a composer of both classical and film music, and was asked by Charles to compose an anthem for his Terra Carta environmental initiative. ‘Sacred Fire’, the result, used music and Biblical imagery to evoke a bridge between the angelic and human realms.


Alis Huws pic: Getty Images


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.