The pieces chosen by orchestras and choirs from all over the country as tributes to the Queen

The pieces chosen by orchestras and choirs from all over the country as tributes to the Queen

The London Symphony Orchestra, pictured here in 2017, paid tribute to the Queen (AFP via Getty Images)

The London Symphony Orchestra, pictured here in 2017, paid tribute to the Queen (AFP via Getty Images)

Dozens of orchestras and choirs across Britain played special pieces in homage to the Queen. She makes sense: not only is it the best way for musical institutions to communicate their pain, but music is a powerful balm and the queen herself was a music lover.

Indeed, Her Majesty was a staunch supporter of the arts. She became patroness of the Royal Opera House in 1956, patroness of the Royal Albert Hall (she visited the concert hall 130 times), patroness of the charity Help Musicians UK and regularly attended other concerts across the capital. Lei Maestà di lei was also a pianist in her youth and received two honorary degrees in music.

And that’s not all: the Queen was also described by her cousin Lady Elizabeth Anson as “a fantastic dancer”, with “a great rhythm”, and said in the BBC Radio documentary Our Queen: 90 Musical Years that, “The Queen loves theater and musicals like Showboat, Oklahoma! and Annie grab your gun ”.

Here are some of the orchestras and choirs that paid tribute to the Queen through music.

The Sixteen

An hour after the news of the queen’s death at 6:30 pm on September 8, Voices of Classic FM, The Sixteen, continued their performance at Exeter Cathedral. The choir sang the planned program of English choral music (all centered on Hubert Parry’s Songs Of Farewell, known to be terribly moving) and concluded with Parry’s Lord, let me know my ending, which they said was a tribute to the queen.

“We hope it provides an appropriate and moving tribute,” the ensemble said in a Tweet. Lord, let me know that my ending is adapted from a biblical psalm of King James. “Oh spare me a little, may I regain my strength before I leave / and never be seen again,” says the last lines of him.

The use of Parry marked a turning point: the setting of the English composer’s Psalm I Was Glad was performed at the coronation of the queen.

London Symphony Orchestra

The Queen had been the patroness of the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) since 1952, which makes this specially recorded standalone performance even more poignant.

Short and concise and conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, the Orchestra wore black concert suits and stood up as they played God Save the Queen. Afterwards, Rattle stated, “The London Symphony Orchestra is deeply saddened by the death of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II”, before detailing the long relationship between the orchestra and the Queen.

Garsington opera

The Garsington Opera group, which gives performances at Garsington Manor near Oxford, chose to play the evening prayer from the opera Hänsel und Gretel as a tribute.

Also known as Children’s Prayer, this is the song Hansel and Gretel sing before going to sleep in the woods. The text, sung in German, describes fourteen angels who watch over children as they sleep. “Sprinkling myself with roses while my soul rests. / God will not forsake me / When dawn finally wakes me up, “says the verse.

The National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain

The National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain performed The National Anthem as a tribute to the queen. The orchestra of 160 musicians between the ages of 13 and 19 stood up and wore black concert suits.

Tees Valley Youth Orchestra

The Tees Valley Youth Orchestra, an orchestra made up of musicians from across the north east of England, paid their tribute over the weekend. Continuing with a scheduled performance at Stockton Parish Church, they held a “moment of reflection for the life and incredible service of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II”.

“What an incredibly emotional night last night. We share with you this moment yesterday as a tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, “tweeted the orchestra, choosing to share a clip of their rendition of Elgar’s Enigma Variations: Nimrod.

It is the ninth and best known variation of the 14 variations by the English composer Edward Elgar which were dedicated, as the composer said, to “my friends in the picture”. In the Bible, Nimrod is a king and is described as “a mighty hunter before the Lord”.

Academy of San Martino in the Campi

Also choosing to commemorate The Queen with Elgar, the St Martin in the Fields Academy Chamber Orchestra performed the composer’s string serenade. One of the composer’s early pieces, in three short movements, is known to be an uplifting piece, although it somehow evoked a painful tone in their September 9th rendition.

“We share our reflection on how we know best, through the music in Elgar’s Serenade for Strings. May he rest in peace, “wrote the orchestra in the notes of the video.

Orchestra of the National Arts Center of Canada

Tributes continued across the ocean as well: the National Arts Center Orchestra of Canada also chose to commemorate Her Majesty with Elgar’s Nimrod. Played at the orchestra’s first concert of the 2022-23 season, the opening show was added to a planned program that included works by Richard Strauss, Dinuk Wijeratne, and Sergei Rachmaninoff.

The performance was conducted by Alexander Shelley, the English musical director of the NAC Orchestra.

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