Coronation conductor says music will reflect Britain's 'ethnic diversity and gender divide'

John Eliot Gardiner - Paul Marc Mitchell/Paul Marc Mitchell
John Eliot Gardiner - Paul Marc Mitchell/Paul Marc Mitchell

The King's Coronation music will reflect Britain's "ethnic diversity and gender divide", according to a conductor who is due to perform at the ceremony.

Sir John Eliot Gardiner will conduct the pre-Service programme of choral music during the May 6 ceremony in Westminster Abbey, the first coronation of a British monarch in seven decades.

The 79-year-old said that both historic traditions and modern sensibilities will be reflected.

"Some of the music will reflect historic traditions and magnificent music written for earlier coronations by composers like Purcell, Elgar, Parry and Handel," he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Saturday.

"But also a much wider range of music specially commissioned for this occasion which I think will reflect Britain’s ethnic diversity and cross-cultural influences and across the gender divide."

The British conductor, known for his performances of Bach's works, revealed that he is “not quite sure what the final makeup of the music is going to be” at the service, but that it will be a “real celebration”.

He will conduct the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque soloists in the pre-service programme and will be joined by Sir Antonio Pappano, who will be conducting the Coronation Orchestra.

King Charles - John Stillwell/PA
King Charles - John Stillwell/PA

When asked what kind of emotions are expected to be evoked from the chosen music at the ceremony, he said: “I think it’s going to be exhilaration and surprise from the sheer attractiveness and sheer zest of the music making.”

“I’m enormously honoured and really thrilled to be part of such an incredible opportunity to celebrate the Coronation of our new King…through music, and music of such variety too,” he added.

“It will be a celebration of how our current King is a great patron of the arts, a great patron of music - much more so than any of his predecessors.”

King Charles has long been an avid supporter of the arts in this country, and he has a deep interest in and love of music.

He has long enjoyed classical music, and his patronages include the Royal Opera House, the Royal Philharmonic and the English Chamber Orchestra.

The King is also an accomplished amateur painter of watercolours and sells lithographs of his paintings to raise money for his charities.

Early last year he described how he finds painting so relaxing that it “transports me into another dimension”.

Buckingham Palace previously announced that the range of styles and performers at the King’s Coronation will blend tradition, heritage and ceremony in a showcase of “inclusivity and diversity”.