Music for Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee

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Sunday, June 03, 2012

Britain is gearing up for four days of major celebrations as it celebrates the Diamond Jubilee for H.M. Queen Elizabeth II, who is marking 60 years on the throne. With the pomp and pageantry will show thanks and appreciation to the 86-year-old Elizabeth and may potentially bring cheer to a nation struggling in harsh economic times.

Today on the Choral Mix, we honor this achievement by presenting the wonderful choral music sung at her coronation by the choir of Westminster Abbey. So, while you’re helping yourself to some tea and a scone, we salute the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

We start off this episode with Handel’s Zadok the Priest, an anthem composed for the coronation of George II. The orchestral introduction is like a stately bold march and builds until the choir enters in triumph. We also take a step backward in time to the great early English composer, Orlando Gibbons. His eight-part magisterial setting of O Clap your hands with James O’Donnell leading the Westminster Abbey Choir was also featured at the Coronation Service in 1953.

Herbert Howells, George Dyson, Healy Willan and William Harris, the leading British composers of the day, all premiered works at Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation. We hear a version of Harris's serene Let My Prayer Come Up, sung by the Westminster Abbey Choir, the English Chamber Orchestra and London Brass, led by Martin Neary. Neary also had the privilege of singing at the Coronation, as a treble in the boys choir of Her Majesty's Chapels Royal.

Herbert Howells's Behold, O God our defender is performed here by the St. Paul’s Cathedral Choir, London led by John Scott.

Other works heard at the coronation were the rarely-performed Creed and Sanctus from Vaughan Williams Mass in G minor, Herbert Howells' Behold, O God our defender, and William Walton’s Coronation Te Deum. The latter piece is a terrifically grand and exciting setting scored for choir, organ and brass.

We conclude with a quintessential piece celebrating the British Monarchy: Charles Parry’s I was Glad. The central section of the piece incorporates acclamations of "Vivat Regina" or "Long live the Queen." This section, which must be slightly rewritten every time a new monarch is crowned, is usually omitted when the anthem is performed on non-royal occasions.

Join in the discussion:  How will you celebrate the Diamond Jubilee?


Handel/ Coronation Anthems/ Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, The Academy of Ancient Music, Stephen Cleobury
Zadok the Priest     

Gibbons/ Treasures of English Church Music/ The Cambridge Singers, John Rutter
O Clap Your Hands   

Wesley/ Praise and Majesty/ The Men and Boys Choir of the Cathedral Abbey and Abbey Church of St. Alban, Barry Rose
Thou Wilt Keep Him in Perfect Peace   

Harris/Coronation of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II/ Westminster Abbey Choir, The English Chamber Orchestra, London Brass, Martin Neary & Martin Baker
Let My Prayer Come Up 

Dyson/Coronation of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II/ Westminster Abbey Choir, The English Chamber Orchestra, London Brass, Martin Neary & Martin Baker
Confortare, Be Strong and of Good Courage  

Willan/ A Choral Festival/ Choir of Westminster Abbey & Ely Cathedral, Gerald Gifford
O Lord our Governor  

Howells/ St. Paul’s Service/ St. Paul’s Cathedral Choir, John Scott
Behold, O God our defender  

Vaughan Williams/ Howells/Vaughan Williams: Requiem/Mass/ Corydon Singers, Matthew Best
Credo, Mass in G Minor  

Walton/ Walton: Coronation Te Deum/ Polyphony, The Wallace Collection, Stephen Layton & James Vivian
Coronation Te Deum

Parry/ hear my prayer/ Voices of Ascension, Dennis Keene
I was Glad 

Comments [5]

Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

WQXR's music for the Diamond Jubilee shows class, BUT THE QUEEN'S OWN 1000 vessels on the Thames ACTUAL celebration WAS FREEZING COLD WITH RAIN to boot. Oh, well, they didn't mind that it rained on their parade. Having lived in London myself [on Regent Street], I can appreciate that it being so common that that weather did not "dampen" their enthusiasm for the ROYAL occasion. I am a Wagnerian heldentenor and the director of the Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, where professional actors are trained for the Shakespeare roles and big-voiced singers are coached in the Wagner roles and voice production and dramaturgy techniques. My next concert in New York will be on Saturday, June 9th at the YOGA EXPO at the New Yorker Hotel . The title of the concert is 'BRING HIM HOME, with that song from the musical LES MISERABLES, encouraging the return of our armed forces and inspiring hope and love of country with This Land is Your Land, The House I Live In, Climb Every Mountain, You'll Never Walk Alone, When Johnnie Comes Marching Home Again, The Impossible Dream [the Quest], Granada, Wien, Wien, nur du allein, Kumbaya, Billy Bigelow's Soliloquy from Carousel, New York, New Yprk, There's No Business Like Show Business, Music of the Night, Florestan's Gott ! welch Dunkel hier !, Dein ist mein ganzes Herz, Memory from Cats, Empty Chairs at Empty Tables, Federico's Lament from L'Arlesiana, My Way and Earth Anthem.

Jun. 07 2012 08:44 PM
Katrina Montagna from Long Beach

Fabulous segment! Next best thing to being there celebrating. Besides the gorgeous music, very informative and interesting. Kudos, to Kent Tritle for a great program.

Jun. 04 2012 12:44 PM
Miichael Meltzer

Considering how topical the intent, a surprisingly varied and interesting program. Nice lady, she deserves it.

Jun. 04 2012 09:25 AM
David from Flushing

There is a good possibility the the Queen will still be with us ten years hence. I was curious as to the name of that jubilee. Some say "platinum" though this seems less precious than "diamond."

In any event, there is lots of good music to go with this occasion no matter what it is called. A good selection appears in the article.

Jun. 03 2012 06:07 PM
Gary Ekman from Manhattan/NYC

A superb selection for a glorious occasion. God Save The Queen!

Jun. 03 2012 08:01 AM

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