Queen looks likely to choose first ever woman in a role that has been filled by men for 400 years.
The new Master of the Queen’s Music is set to be announced next month, and if the rumours are to be believed, it is likely to be a woman. All odds are on Dame Judith Weir, who is tipped to succeed Sir Peter Maxwell Davies in the role.
Weir, aged 60, trained with Sir John Tavener and graduated from King’s College, Cambridge in 1976. In 2007, she was awarded the Queen’s Medal for Music. Weir’s music commonly draws upon medieval history and traditional stories of her family’s homeland, Scotland. She is best known for her operas, including The Vanishing Bridegroom and Blond Eckbert, as well as a catalogue of orchestral and chamber works.
“The name will be announced next month,” an anonymous source at the Palace told the UK's ever-gossipy Daily Mail. “The word is that it will be the first Mistress Of The Queen’s Music.”
Queen Elizabeth II has been known to break with tradition, in 2009 appointing Carol Ann Duffy as the first female Poet Laureate. Part of that role includes composing poems for significant royal occasions, but curiously, the Scottish, Gorbals-born poet is yet to create anything to celebrate the recent birth of Prince George of Cambridge.
Another possible contender for the first Mistress of the Queen’s Music is Sally Beamish. Beamish is known for her film and television work, as well as her work as commissioned by the BBC Proms, though, at age 57, Beamish perhaps lacks the required vintage of previous Masters.
Also in the running are a handful of men including Michael Berkeley, son of Sir Lennox Berkeley (and godson of Benjamin Britten), and John Rutter, who composed the anthem for the 2011 wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Amidst all the speculation, no Australian name has been mentioned, though perhaps the delivery record of Malcolm Williamson, the ony previous holder of the office from down under has counted against us. Nevertheless, it seems typical of a Britain-centric Monarchy that no-one from the wider Commonwealth appears to have been under consideration.