Royal wedding: William and Kate’s music coming soon to a choir near you
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Mere hours after William and Kate said ‘I will’ on Friday morning, copies of Kate’s wedding dress and flowers appeared in shop windows across the country. Although less immediate, the wedding music also has a knock-on effect.
Crimond, the obscure Scottish melody for ‘The Lord’s My Shepherd’ chosen by Queen Elizabeth for her wedding in 1947, has since become the hymn’s standard tune. As such, the new anthem and motet sung at William and Kate’s wedding most certainly will be appearing shortly in choir folios around the world.
John Rutter ‘This is the day which Lord hath made’ (2011)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Commissioned especially for the wedding by the Dean of Westminster (essentially Westminster Abbey’s head priest), this piece is pure Rutter from the first notes. If you’re a choral singer, this is great news. Rutter has a gift for melody and is enormously popular with singers, especially in the United States. Non-singers and Anglican church musicians are more ambivalent, tending to be less impressed by the stock gestures and the propensity for cheese typical of his work.
Listen asthe choirs of Westminster Abbey and the Chapel Royal at St. James’ Palace give the premiere performance at the wedding.
Paul Mealor ‘Ubi Caritas et Amor’ (2011)
Publisher: University of York Music Press
This refashioning of Mealor’s 2010 composition ‘Now Sleeps The Crimson Petal’was commissioned by Prince William. The piece is lovely in itself, but there were extra-musical reasons to include it in the ceremony too. Mealor is Welsh (when Charles ascends the throne, William will become the Prince of Wales), has a home on Anglesey (the Welsh island where William and Kate will be living for the next few years) and the original song cycle was premiered at St. Andrews, the university where the couple met.
Largely unknown outside the Anglican church music world, Mealor will find his star rising considerably after this debut on the world stage. He teaches composition at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.
Mealor’s aesthetic is similar to that of composer Eric Whitacre, featuring the same open tone clusters, extended chords, slow-moving harmonic changes and divisi voicing. These techniques minimize any sense of a home key, which creates a sort of ethereal dissonance that doesn’t feel as if it needs resolving. In this idiom, the color of the sound is more important than the shape of it, meaning there is no big tune.
Nerd Note: The treble solo at the end seems to be a nod to the more famous setting of the Ubi caritas text by Maurice Duruflé.
Here again are the two choirs from the wedding:
-- Marcia Adair