LONDON (AP) – Andrew Lloyd Webber, the English composer who created the scores for blockbuster musicals such as ‘Cats’, ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ and ‘Evita’, has written and adapted the anthem for King Charles III’s coronation a piece of church music that encourages the singers to make a “joyful noise”.
Webber’s work is one of a dozen new pieces Charles has commissioned for the big occasion, which is taking place at Westminster Abbey on May 6th. It contains words from Psalm 98 and is composed especially for the abbey’s choir and organ.
“I hope my anthem reflects this happy occasion,” Webber said in a statement released by Buckingham Palace.
The program for the king’s coronation ceremony includes both older music and new compositions as the palace seeks to blend traditional and modern elements that reflect the realities of modern Britain. New pieces have been composed by artists rooted in all four states of the United Kingdom, as well as the Commonwealth and other countries that have sent so many people to its shores.
The service includes works by William Byrd (1543–1623), George Frideric Handel (1685–1759), Edward Elgar (1857–1934), Henry Walford Davies (1869–1941), William Walton (1902–1983) and Hubert Parry ( 1848–1918) and Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872–1958), whose music was included in previous Coronations, and a piece by the contemporary Welsh composer Karl Jenkins.
There will also be new work by Sarah Class, Nigel Hess, Paul Mealor, Tarik O’Regan, Roxanna Panufnik, Shirley J. Thompson, Judith Weir, Roderick Williams and Debbie Wiseman.
“The decision to combine old and new reflects the cultural breadth of the time we live in,” said Andrew Nethsingha, organist and choirmaster at Westminster Abbey.
Coronations have taken place in Westminster Abbey since 1066. It has been a privilege to work with His Majesty in selecting outstanding musicians and accessible, communicative music for this grand occasion,” said Nethsingha.
A total of six orchestra commissions, five choir commissions and one organ commission were created for the coronation, covering the genres of classical, religious, film, television and music theater.
The program will also include personal touches, including a musical tribute to Charles’ late father, Prince Philip, who was born a Greek prince. The new monarch requested Greek Orthodox music to be performed by the Byzantine Chant Ensemble.
Although details of some materials are being kept under wraps, one hymn will definitely be part of the service: Handel’s Zadok the Priest.
The hymn, with its robust refrain ‘God Save the King’, has been played at every coronation since it was commissioned for the coronation of King George II in 1727.