Over the centuries, some of the finest choral music has been composed to celebrate coronations, weddings and funerals of members of the British Royal Family. This recital of famous and less well-known items will be a suitable prelude to the Coronation of His Majesty, King Charles III, a few hours later. Join us for this festive celebration and feel especially patriotic!
Saturday 6th May at 2:30pm
All Saints Church, Cnr Noble and Talbot Sts Newtown
The Choral Grapevine
Music for Royal Occasions
Music For Royal Occasions sung by The Geelong Chorale
It might have been seen as a bold move byGeelong’s senior choir to schedule this concert on Coronation Day – the biggest Royal occasion.
It could have contributed to a day of regal overload, but in the event our television companies did this by each providing identical coverage – while this Chorale concert allowed us a preview of what was to provide the best part of the coronation ceremony itself – the music.
Not that this church concert was all crowning anthems and fanfares; for in selecting his material, the Chorale’s musical director and conductor, Allister Cox, had widened the choice to include music written for Royal weddings, funerals and other occasions. But it was coronations that provided the majority – and the most stirring – of the afternoon’s songs.
The concert began with Hubert Parry’s I Was Glad, a rousing intro which backed the choir with strident organ chords played by Ken George with all the stops out.
This was followed and contrasted by William Child’s O Lord Grant The King a Long Life, a gentle, pretty tune with Ken joining the Chorale to sing it a capella.
Then followed a different element again, as piano accompanist Kristine Mellens joined for Samual Sebastian Wesley’s Thou Wilt Keep Him In Perfect Peace. As always with Chorale concerts, Allister provided short helpful commentaries to explain the works and illustrate their purposes. Thus we were told of William H Harris’s Holy is the True Light, then the respectful funeral rites of Henry Purcell’s short trio of Funeral Sentences, Man That Is Born Of Woman and Thou Knows, Lord. Keeping to the theme came Edward Elgar’s They are at Rest, before Johannes Brahms’ lyrical How Lovely is Thy Dwelling. Then the Chorale’s bass singers quietly retreated to the very back of the church to provide a moving deep drone to back John Tavener’s lovely Song For Athene which was followed by a song chosen for the funeral of Elizabeth II James MacMillan’s Who Shall Separate Us? sung in eight-part harmony.
This led to a song for a very different occasion, John Rutter’s This Is The Day was previously sung at the wedding of William, Prince of Wales to Catherine Middleton.
It was followed by another stirring anthem, the Proms favourite Jerusalem, sung with gusto by the whole church audience with Ken George back at the organ before a final Royal flourish, George Frederick Handel’s Zadok, the Priest, accompanied by Patrycja Radzi-Stewart solo violin to appropriately close the concert.
Later this song was delivered by a much larger and more prestigious choir, used as a high point when King Charles III was screened and anointed with oils in Westminster Abbey.
I doubt the sovereign would have known it had been preempted five hours earlier in the city which contributed part of his education – but I’m sure that he and the other Royals would have approved. Because this concert made a fine contribution to a memorable occasion.
– Colin Mockett