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New British compositions a gift for the Royal Wedding

Features - Classical Music

New British compositions a gift for the Royal Wedding

by Melissa Lesnie on April 29, 2011 (April 29, 2011) filed under Classical Music | Comment Now
Prince William and Kate Middleton announce music for today's big event.

Little-known British composer Paul Mealor has been chosen by the royal couple to compose a new choral work for the Westminster Abbey ceremony. The 35-year-old's music may have been hitherto largely unknown outside his native Wales, but on Friday April 29 it will be heard by more than a billion people watching the televised performance. 

Prince William and his bride-to-be first met and fell in love at the University of St Andrews, where an a cappella choral cycle by Mealor had its premiere last year. It is through this performance that they encountered his work. There is another local connection: the royal couple resides on North Wales' Isle of Anglesey, Mealor's hometown.

The composer has adapted music from his Now sleeps the crimson petal to a setting of a 6th-century Latin hymn. The incipit of the new work, Ubi caritas, translates to "Where charity and love are, God is there". Featuring a solo for boy treble, it showcases Mealor's accessible style and luminous choral writing.

“I was thrilled to hear that HRH Prince William of Wales had chosen my music for his wedding", he said. "How humbling it is for me to know that Prince William and Catherine will celebrate the beginning of their lives together with my music . . . The ceremony is going to be, without a doubt, the most emotionally intense and exhilarating hour of my life!’’

Mealor is shaping up to be one of the most significant choral composers in Wales, lauded by the New York Times for writing "music of deep spiritual searching that always asks questions, offers answers and fills the listener with hope."

Ubi caritas will be premiered today by the Choir of Westminster Abbey and The Choir of Her Majesty’s Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, conducted by James O’Donnell.

In addition to supporting the music of a young Welsh talent, the grand ceremony will present a selection of classic British sacred and choral music, as well as a new anthem by popular English composer John Rutter. This is the day which the Lord hath made has been composed specially for the occasion, commissioned by Westminster Abbey as a wedding present. Delius, Finzi, Elgar, Walton, Vaughan Williams and Maxwell Davies show the full range of 20th-century British classical music alongside an excerpt from Benjamin Britten's Gloriana, composed in 1953 for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Full programme details below. View the official royal wedding album details here.

Chris May reviews the two new choral works in his blog.

Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton are pleased to announce the music for their Wedding Service.  The music has a largely British theme. The Couple have put considerable thought into selecting the music, and their choices blend traditional music with some newly commissioned pieces. 

Before the Service

The music before the Service will begin with a selection of organ pieces: Fantasia in G (Pièce d’orgue à 5) by Johann Sebastian Bach, followed by Veni Creator Spiritus by the Master of The Queen’s Music, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies; Prelude on St. Columba Op. 28 by Sir Charles Villiers Stanford andSonata for Organ Op. 28 (Allegro maestoso and Allegretto) by Edward Elgar.

Following this will be seven orchestral pieces:

Elgar Serenade for Strings in E minor Op. 20 (Allegro piacevole, Larghetto and Allegretto)

Britten Courtly Dance V: Galliard from Gloriana (Symphonic Suite) Op. 53a no. 7

Vaughan Williams Fantasia on Greensleeves

Maxwell Davies Farewell to Stromness

Delius On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring

Walton Touch Her Soft Lips and Part from Henry V Suite

Finzi Romance for String Orchestra Op. 11

Three of these pieces – Farewell to Stromness, Touch Her Soft Lips and Partand Romance for String Orchestra Op. 11 – were played at the Service of Prayer and Dedication for The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall in 2005.  The Couple specifically chose these pieces for that reason.  The final piece of music before the Service begins continues the broadly British theme: Canzona from Organ Sonata in C minor by Percy Whitlock. 

Processional Music

The Service will begin with a Fanfare by The State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry to mark the arrival of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh.  The Fanfare will be followed by three Processionals. For the Procession of The Queen, Prince William and Miss Middleton have chosen March from The Birds by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry. The Prelude on Rhosymedre by Ralph Vaughan Williams will accompany the Procession of the Clergy, and was chosen for its Welsh echoes.  The Couple have selected I was Glad, also by Parry, for the Procession of the Bride.           

Hymns

Prince William and Miss Middleton have chosen three hymns for the Service: Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer’, words by William Williams, translated by Peter Williams and others, and music by John Hughes. The second will be Love Divine All Love Excelling, words by Charles Wesley and music by William Penfro Rowlands. The third will be Jerusalem, by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry, words by William Blake. All three hymns have been chosen because they are favourites of the Couple.

The Anthem and Motet

The Anthem, This is the day which the Lord hath made, has been composed specially for the occasion by John Rutter. It will be performed by both the Choir of Westminster Abbey and the Chapel Royal Choir. Mr Rutter is a British composer, conductor, editor and arranger who specialises in choral music.   

The Anthem will be followed by the Motet Ubi caritas by Paul Mealor, a Welsh composer, who is currently Reader in Composition at The University of Aberdeen.

The National Anthem will be sung immediately before the Signing of the Registers.

The Signing of the Registers and the Recessional

During the Signing of the Registers, the choirs will sing Blest pair of Sirens, words by John Milton from At a Solemn Musick, music by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry. 

Following the Signing, there will be a Fanfare by the Fanfare Team from the Central Band of the Royal Air Force. The Fanfare, called Valiant and Brave, after the motto of No. 22 Squadron (Search and Rescue Force) was specially composed for this Service by Wing Commander Duncan Stubbs, Principal Director of Music in the Royal Air Force.

The Recessional, for the Procession of the Bride and Bridegroom, will be Crown Imperial by William Walton. Toccata from Symphonie V  by Charles-Marie Widor and Pomp and Circumstance March no. 5 by Edward Elgar will follow the Service.    

Following the Wedding Service at Westminster Abbey, Claire Jones, the Official Harpist to HRH The Prince of Wales will perform at a Reception hosted by Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

 

Paul Mealor