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Music and King Charles' Coronation pt.1

Updated: Jun 24, 2023

This is a first for me.

To be honest, it’s the first for all of us who were born after 1953 - we’ve never seen a British monarch coronated before.

A King with a crown

There’s a sense of intrigue about what the day will look like, what the atmosphere of the country will feel like, the many rituals of the coronation itself, and the symbolism of it all. Some will undoubtedly take time to reflect on the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. Others will be looking forward to the music in the coronation. Who composed what? What music will play? When and by who? If you were wondering, look no further:

It’s interesting and by no means a coincidence, that the coronation is literally underscored by European classical music. Knowing this, here are many things that come to mind (which I’m not going to do a deep dive into today, but maybe next time…), which include:

  • Tradition

  • Accessibility

  • Soft Power

  • Diversity

  • Inclusion

I’m interested in all of these things because the coronation makes me think about parts of my identity as a Black man born in England. I’m not immune to the sense of intrigue and the significance of the day (in one respect). Subconsciously, I’ve been taught to look up to the monarchy with a mixture of respect and quasi-reverence. A group of people who live in castles, dress in livery, adorned with medals, and bespoke dresses who travel the world and whose every move is covered by the press. We’re fed these images for much of our lives, and for much of our lives, these images and ideas lodge themselves in our minds without critical thought or even balance. As a music educator who is interested in having conversations and researching around decolonization, it’s almost impossible to separate out an event like the coronation from discourse around these topics.

  • In 2023, what could the King’s coronation sound like?

  • What does the choice of music tell us?

  • What does the choice of music sound like to us?

  • How can occasions like this teach us about the importance of music?

I’m eager to see who else out there is thinking about questions like these. These questions and thoughts are not intended to come across as anti-royalist - if you love the monarchy, you are free to do so. It’s by asking questions that we can attempt to understand our world and its traditions a little bit better.

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