Hampton Court Palace marks finale of 500th anniversary celebrations with week of music
To mark the culmination of Hampton Court Palace’s 500th anniversary year celebrations, two new works inspired by the rich history of this iconic building and its inhabitants have been given their world premiere at the palace this week.
Saturday 14 November saw a double performance of Under the Hammerbeam Roof, a specially commissioned operatic tribute to Hampton Court created by five local community groups in partnership with English Touring Opera. Set in the suitably theatric surroundings of the Tudor Great Hall, where Shakespeare himself once trod the boards, the performers delighted the audience with a tale of a group of visitors who find themselves inadvertently locked in the palace at night, and the ensuing evening of ghostly visitations from palace characters’ past – all set to a score written and created by the performers themselves.
Drawn from across Surrey, each of the groups uses music and performance in a unique way – from amateur dramatics at Molesey Musical Theatre and Freedom Stage Company to music therapy at Otakar Kraus Music Trust and support for those recovering from mental health issues at Recovery Initiative Social Enterprise and Wellness With A Goal – and the project has provided a valuable opportunity for those participating to share their diverse experiences with other local community groups through creative collaboration.
In the same week, the 500th anniversary celebrations at Hampton Court Palace culminated in the world-premiere of a new composition by Judith Weir, the Master of the Queen’s Music. The anthem, which was heard for the first time during a service of thanksgiving in the palace’s historic Chapel Royal on 16 November, was performed by the Hampton Court Palace Chapel Royal Choir, conducted by the Chapel Royal’s Music Director Carl Jackson, and accompanied by organist Rufus Frowde, and trumpeters Max Bronstein and Ryan Linham. The service itself was conducted by the newly appointed Chaplain, Reverend Anthony Howe.
Jointly commissioned by Historic Royal Palaces and the Choral Foundation, the piece is a celebration of the palace’s long musical tradition. Entitled ‘Praise Him with Trumpets’ it is Judith Weir’s first major commission since becoming Master of the Queen’s Music in 2014.
Judith Weir, Master of the Queen’s Music, said, ‘My new work ‘Praise Him with trumpets’ was written after visits to the Chapel Royal. Most influential on me was a list of suggestions sent to me by the boy choristers of the Chapel Royal; for instance “majestic and royal, full of forte and life”; “trumpets and trombones please, big and grand”; “something big and important that I will really look forward to singing again and again”.’
Notes to Editors
For more information and images, please contact Laura Hutchinson in the Historic Royal Palaces Press Office: firstname.lastname@example.org or 0203 166 6338.
The five community groups who participated in ‘Under the Hammerbeam Roof’ are:
Freedom Stage Company, Surrey
Molesey Musical Theatre, East Molesey
Recovery Initiative Social Enterprise (RISE), Kingston upon Thames
Wellness With A Goal (WWAG), Walton-on-Thames
Otakar Kraus Music Trust, Twickenham
English Touring Opera
The winner of the 2014 Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera, English Touring Opera is the most prolific touring opera company in the UK, travelling annually to around 70 venues, more than any other English opera company. With its mission to offer opera to everyone, the company presents as many as 140 performances a year. There are two major annual tours, both performed in full costume with a live orchestra. ETO’s outreach programme focuses on creative work, and ranges from community operas and music theatre workshops to productions for young people and their families, featuring artists from the company’s main-stage shows, touring to schools across the UK. The company is also a national leader in the provision of arts for dementia sufferers. www.englishtouringopera.org.uk / @ETOpera
The Choral Foundation preserves and promotes the unique heritage of choral music at Hampton Court Palace Chapel Royal, and makes it accessible to all.
A registered charity, it was established to ensure that congregations and visitors would discover and continue to experience the rich musical tradition of Hampton Court at services, recitals and special events.
It relies on donors and partners to support the first-class musical education it gives to its choristers, to support the Director of Music, Organist and Organ Scholar, to maintain the organ and to renew and replace musical and choir equipment.
Its mission is to enable the Hampton Court Palace Chapel Royal Choir to reach its potential and achieve greater prominence in the world of Anglican choral music.
Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland. We help everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built. We raise all our own funds and depend on the support of our visitors, members, donors, sponsors and volunteers. With the exception of Hillsborough Castle, these palaces are owned by The Queen on behalf of the nation, and we manage them for the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Registered charity number 1068852.
For more information, visit www.hrp.org.uk