Encore Blog

Music at the Royal Wedding: Everything You Need to Know (2018)

Royal Wedding Musicians - Harry and Meghan, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Spice Girls, Karen Kingdom Choir, Elton John, Elin Manahan-Thomas, Ed Sheeran, David Blackadder

With just days until Harry and Meghan tie the knot, Royal Wedding fever is beginning to grip the world, and for good reason. We’re most excited about the music at the royal wedding, and we think you should be too.

So here are EncoreMusicians.com, the UK’s largest supplier of live music, we’ve broken down everything you could possibly want to know about Harry and Meghan’s musical plans.

Live music sets the tone and creates unforgettable memories for everyone involved, and this year’s historic Royal Wedding is going to be no exception.

The Royals will be enjoying a wide variety musical entertainment from some of the finest musicians in the country, and we’re here to make sure you know everything about it.

We’ll be answering the important questions:

  • Which musicians have been confirmed?
  • Which pop stars are predicted to show up?
  • How much will all this live music cost?!
  • How to host your own musical royal wedding-themed party

CONFIRMED MUSICIANS AT THE ROYAL WEDDING

So far, we can confirm that the following artists will definitely be performing at the wedding:

  • James Vivian, Director of Music at St. George’s Chapel, will be Musical Director
  • The Choir of St George’s Chapel
  • Sheku Kanneh-Mason (cello)
  • Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir
  • An Orchestra consisting of the UK’s finest players
  • Elin Manahan Thomas (soprano)
  • David Blackadder (trumpet)
  • Luke Bond (organist)

James Vivian, Director of Music at St. George’s Chapel – Musical Director

James Vivian will be directing the music at the royal wedding. Source: jamesvivian.com
James Vivian will be directing the music at the royal wedding. Source: jamesvivian.com

The man behind the music on Saturday is James Vivian, Director of Music at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.

His career has involved positions at King’s College, Cambridge, the well-known Temple Church in London, and Lincoln Cathedral. He’s also recorded with labels including Hyperion, Sony BMG and Decca. Long story short: the ceremony music is in very safe hands!

The Choir of St George’s Chapel

The choir will be leading the singing at the royal wedding.
The choir will be leading the singing at the royal wedding.

Leading the hymns will be the choir of St George’s Chapel, led by James Vivian and accompanied on the organ by Luke Bond (more on him later).

The Choir have been singing since 1348, and regularly perform for the Queen and other members of Royalty.

Some of their recent high profile performances include:

  • the annual service for the Order of the Garter, Britain’s highest order of chivalry
  • the thanksgiving service for HM The Queen’s 80th birthday in 2006
  • the Service of Prayer and Dedication on the marriage of Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall in 2005
  • the marriage of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Sophie Rhys-Jones in 1999

Sheku Kanneh-Mason – Cello

Sheku won the BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2016 with a stunning performance of Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto at the Barbican in London. In fact, our CEO and Co-Founder, James, was in the audience when it happened!

From James:

“For a cellist so young, Sheku has already gained an immense mastery of the cello. His technique is dazzling, and his musicality is unparalleled among his peers. I’m particularly impressed by how he is able to harness so much emotional energy, which is unleashed at choice moments throughout his performances.”

Encore’s Prediction: it’s hard to know what Sheku will perform at the wedding, but our money is on either The Swan, by Saint-Saens, one of his trademark pop covers (like Cohen’s Hallelujah or Bob Marley’s No Woman, No Cry), or some solo Bach.

From the Kensington Palace Twitter account:
“Last June, Prince Harry saw Sheku play at an event in London in support of the work of Antiguan charity the Halo Foundation”

Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir

From Kensington Palace Twitter account:

“Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir. The Choir is made up of a group of British artists dedicated to creating a sound that demonstrates the community they share, and has been performing both nationally and internationally for over 20 years.”

Karen Gibson said: “The Kingdom Choir is truly honoured to be invited to sing at the wedding of Prince Harry and Ms. Markle, and very excited to be taking part in such a historic moment. It will be a moment that we will always treasure, and we’d like to take the opportunity to wish the couple all the very best for their coming union.”

In 2000, the Kingdom Choir won BBC Radio 2’s Minstrels in the Gallery annual competition. In fact, you may have already heard them singing, as they’ve appeared in numerous TV adverts.

Elin Manahan Thomas – Soprano

Elin will be singing at the royal wedding. Source: @elin_manahan on Twitter (https://twitter.com/elin_manahan)
Elin will be singing at the royal wedding. Source: @elin_manahan on Twitter (https://twitter.com/elin_manahan)

Elin is a Welsh soprano who has performed with many of the world’s best orchestras, and famously performed at the 2012 Paralympics Olympic Ceremony (more on that in a second).

David Blackadder – Trumpet

David is the principal trumpeter in the UK’s two top baroque orchestras, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Academy of Ancient Music.

His specialism is the valveless natural trumpet often used for performances of 18th century baroque music but we don’t think he’ll be playing as a soloist on this occasion. We reckon Harry and Meghan will have him teamed up with Elin to perform an aria…

 

Encore’s Prediction: Handel’s “Eternal Source of Light Divine” from Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne (1713)

Elin performed Handel’s Eternal Source of Light Divine at the 2012 Paralympics Opening Ceremony, which features soprano and natural trumpet soloists. Here she is performing at the Opening Ceremony:

Luke Bond – Organist

Luke will be playing the organ at the royal wedding. Source: St George's Chapel website (https://www.stgeorges-windsor.org/about-st-georges/whos-who/musicians)
Luke will be playing the organ at the royal wedding

From the St George’s Windsor website:

“Luke Bond is the Assistant Director of Music and comes to St George’s Chapel after appointments at Clifton College, The Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick and eight years as Assistant Director of Music at Truro Cathedral.”

Thanks to the exponential rise of social media since Will and Kate’s wedding, Harry and Meghan’s Wedding is projected to be one of the most watched events in human history, which means Luke could be in contention for the mighty title of “Most Watched Organist in History”.

Encore’s Prediction: Widor’s ‘Toccata’ from Symphony for Organ No.5, one of the most popular pieces of wedding music for the organ of all time. It has been played at 9 Royal Weddings over the last 60 years!

PREDICTED POP STARS AT THE ROYAL WEDDING

The Spice Girls (99.9%)

We’ve heard some strong rumours that everyone’s favourite girl group will be reuniting to perform at the wedding reception, and thanks to Mel B’s hilarious honesty on the Real Daytime talk show back in February, we’re now 99.9% sure they’ll be singing!

See for yourself:

It’s hard to believe that the Spice Girls were formed 24 years ago! Here’s a quick reminder of their greatest hits, which will surely feature at Harry and Meghan’s party this weekend:

  • ‘Viva forever’
  • ‘2 become 1’
  • ‘Spice up your life’
  • ‘Wannabe’
  • ‘Stop’

Which songs do you think they’ll perform?

Elton John (85%)

Elton has had a close relationship with the Royal Family for decades. He was a close friend of Diana’s and gave an iconic performance of ‘Candle in the Wind’ at her funeral.

He was one of a small selection of celebrities to attend Will and Kate’s wedding in 2011, and he’s even cancelled two Las Vegas gigs this weekend to make sure he can attend!

Chris Martin and Coldplay (75%)

Chris Martin, a friend of Harry's, is touted to be involved in the music at the royal wedding.
Chris Martin, a friend of Harry’s, is touted to be involved in the music at the royal wedding.

Chris and Harry have been good friends for years, and Chris has performed at Harry’s events in the past, such as his Sentebale charity concert at Kensington Palace in 2016.

Ed Sheeran (70%)

Image result for ed sheeran prince harry

We’ve heard reports that Harry and Meghan have asked Ed to perform “a few songs” on their special day. However, these reports haven’t yet been confirmed by the singer himself.

Ed was asked back in December whether he’d be eager to perform if he was invited, and his response was: “Yeah, why not?”

Ed is performing in Dublin this Saturday, but we’ve heard that he will “have a helicopter on standby”.

“Thinking Out Loud” has been one of the most popular first dance songs requested by clients booking their wedding music on Encore. However, we don’t think Harry and Meghan are likely to go down such a conventional and popular route…

Adele (70%)

Did you know that Adele turned down the chance to perform at Will and Kate’s wedding? We wonder whether she’ll be given a second chance..!

THE COST OF MUSIC AT THE ROYAL WEDDING – £300,000!

Our friends at Bridebook have estimated that the Royal Wedding will cost a staggering £32 million, with live music at the royal wedding accounting for just 1% of the cost – £300,000!

When you take the service and two receptions into account (the first reception is at St George’s Hall, a second private reception will be hosted by Prince Charles at Frogmore House), there are a LOT of musicians to pay.

Then there are the trumpets…

Image result for royal trumpets

The Ministry of Defence has requested 20 bespoke fanfare trumpets to be made by the same workshop who built the trumpets for Will and Kate’s Wedding, and for the Olympics.

These trumpets are to be silver-plated and stamped with the Royal Coat of Arms. Each trumpet will set the couple back roughly £3,000 to £6,000, which means they’re spending between £60,000 and £120,000 on trumpets alone! Toot toot.

HOSTING YOUR OWN ROYAL PARTY

Image result for royal wedding party

Thousands of Britons up and down the country will be hosting their own royal parties this weekend, so you want to make sure yours stands out.

An easy way to wow your guests and give your party a regal feel is to book some royal-themed live music. Here’s some inspiration:

Live music makes events unforgettable, and here at Encore we’ve been recommending regal live music to event planners recently, with a few popular themes:

  • Trumpet fanfare
    • Harry and Meghan are spending around £90,000 on custom made trumpets for their wedding. Thankfully, you don’t need to spend the same! Hiring a trumpeter or two to play a fanfare is an excellent way to add a touch of royalty to your party. 
    • Trumpeters typically cost between £160 and £200 per person for private events
    • Book a Trumpeter now
  • A Solo Cellist
    • Sheku Kanneh-Mason (BBC Young Musician of the Year 2016) is performing cello at the wedding, so adding a solo cellist to your own party will capture some of that magic at your own event. Solo cellists are quite affordable, and can often play a mixture of classical music and more well-known Britpop.
    • Solo cellists typically cost between £160 and £250 for private events
    • Book a Cellist now
  • Harpist
    • Harps have been associated with royalty for centuries, and are also a staple of many wedding ceremonies and receptions. A harpist can perform in most spaces and will add an air of elegance and class to your royal party.
    • Harpists typically cost £225 – £350.
    • There’s a handful of exceptional harpists in the UK who have performed for royalty, and these musicians typically charge in the region of £300 – £450.
    • Book a Harpist now, or read our Guide to booking a Harpist
  • String Quartet
    • The full package, a string quartet is an extremely versatile ensemble capable of performing everything from 17th-century classical music to 21st-century pop and jazz. Your guests aren’t going to forget your party in a hurry with a string quartet.
    • String Quartets typically cost £640 – £1000, depending on performance length and experience
    • Book a String Quartet now, or read our Guide to booking a String Quartet

Comments from Encore Co-Founder & CEO, James McAulay

“We’re expecting a healthy mixture of traditional and contemporary wedding music, with a blend of classic regal British repertoire and more modern American influences as a nod to Meghan’s American background.”

“A Spice Girls reunion at the Royal Wedding would be one for the history books. Our fingers are well and truly crossed!”

“The Royal Wedding could be one of the biggest musical events of 2018, with some incredibly fine musicians confirmed and some exciting icons rumoured to be joining them!”

“Harry and Meghan will certainly be raising the bar this year when it comes to wedding music. They will no doubt inspire trends in wedding music that will ripple throughout the years to come.”

Notes to Editor:

EncoreMusicians.com is the UK’s leading bookings platform for finding incredible musicians to perform at events.

Launched in 2014, EncoreMusicians.com is now home to over 25,000 musicians and has provided musicians for thousands of events in all corners of the UK. Recent Highlights include providing:

  • surprise singing butlers for the opening of the Harrods 2017 Boxing Day Sales
  • string ensembles to perform in King’s Cross Underground Station for the launch of Game of Thrones Season 7
  • musicians for well-known TV Shows such as the X Factor, Good Morning Britain, The Last Leg and Michael McIntyre’s Big Show

Encore prides itself on its excellent customer feedback; customers are consistently delighted and overjoyed by the performances provided by Encore musicians, which is why they have written over 1000 ‘Excellent’ (4.5 stars and above) reviews for their bookings. Encore can provide any type of music for any event anywhere in the UK, so get in touch today ([email protected]) or head to the website (encoremusicians.com) to discuss how we can help you.

James McAulay

Encore Co-Founder & CEO. Cellist, pianist, singer and aspiring guitarist.

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