What is the Coronation Orchestra?
This bespoke orchestra will perform at King Charles's Coronation. But who will be joining the ranks of the Coronation Orchestra for one of the gigs of the century?
The forthcoming Coronation of King Charles III is set to be a wonderful spectacle in so many ways. Not least the music, of which there will be plenty. The former Prince Charles was a keen supporter of classical music.
What is the Coronation Orchestra?
The coronation orchestra is a bespoke orchestra especially put together for King Charles.
Who will be in the Coronation Orchestra?
Formed especially for the ceremony, the Coronation Orchestra comprises a bespoke collection of musicians drawn from orchestras of the former Prince of Wales’ Patronages. So what does that mean?
Well, as we noted in our article on King Charles' musical patronages, the monarch has previously served as patron on various orchestras including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia, and the English Cahmber Orchestra. So expect to see members of these ensembles lining up in the Coronation orchestra.
- Royal Weddings: The best classical music choices
- Music for Royal Funerals: what music was played at Prince Philip's funeral?
- Who is the current Master of the Queen’s Music and what is their role?
- The Queen's Funeral: what music is likely to be played at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II?
- What has the Queen done for classical music?
One member of the orchestra we can be sure of is Alis Huws, the official Royal Harpist. The Welsh harpist will be performing 'in recognition of The King’s long-standing and deeply held relationship and affiliation with Wales'. One of the liturgical sections of the ceremony will also be performed in Welsh.
Among the other organisations which Charles has served as patron are the three Monteverdi ensembles: the Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists and Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique. All three were founded by Sir John Eliot Gardiner, and the first two will both be performing at the pre-Coronation concert.
Who will conduct the Coronation Orchestra?
The conductor will be Antonio Pappano (pictured top), who, as we reported, takes over as the London Symphony Orchestra's chief conductor in September 2024.
What music will the Coronation Orchestra be playing at the coronation?
On the programme are twelve newly-commissioned pieces of music, showcasing composers from across the UK and the commonwealth.
These include a new Coronation Anthem by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and a Coronation March by Patrick Doyle. We will also hear a new work for solo organ embracing musical themes from countries across the Commonwealth by Iain Farrington.
Alongside these, there will also be new works by a range of contemporary British composers including Sarah Class, Nigel Hess, Paul Mealor, Tarik O'Regan, Roxanna Panufnik, Shirley J. Thompson, Judith Weir, Roderick Williams and Debbie Wiseman. The Coronation will feature, in total, 12 brand new works: six pieces for orchestra, five choral works and one instrumental work.
Elsewhere there will be more familiar coronation music by Edward Elgar, William Byrd and George Handel, as well as Greek orthodox music in memory of the King's father, Prince Philip.
Antonio Pappano pic: Getty
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.