The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant

Victoria here, reporting on several favorite topics all at once: the Queen, the Diamond Jubilee, watercraft, and music…based on the latest issue of BBC Music, one of the magazines I try to read each month.  In the March 2012 issue, The Full Score reports on the line-up for the Thames Pageant, the ten official musical barges which will parade downstream from Hammersmith to Greenwich on June 3, 2012.  How I wish I could be there!!  For more on the Pageant, click here.

A long-ago royal barge

In the first of the musical barges, the Royal Jubilee Bells will announce the parade, in the midst of a thousand other vessels authorized to be on the river that day.  It is reported that more than 2,000 applications to join the eclectic fleet — from kayaks to yachts — had to be turned down to preserve some sort of traffic flow on the river.

Barge Two will carry the musicians of the Academy of Ancient Music performing Handel’s Water Music, composed in 1717 for a river procession honoring King George I.  The familiar music is a favorite of concert-goers worldwide.

                                      Handel in 1733, by Balthasar Denneer (1685–1749)

George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) was born in Germany and trained under continental masters in Germany and Italy.  He came to London in 1712 and composed dozens of pieces for orchestra, many operas and oratorios, most famously The Messiah, first performed in 1742.

Water Music CD from the AAM

Handel’s Suites of Water Music were first performed on a Thames barge for the entertainment of George I and his guests.  The music was so enthusiastically received that the musicians played them over and over until well into the wee hours.  The AAM will also perform selections from the Royal Fireworks Suite by Handel, composed for George II in 1749, performed as fireworks and illuminations lit up the Thames near the Duke of Richmond’s.

Barge #3 will carry the Herald Fanfare Trumpeters and on #4, the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines will hold forth, heading a group of small vessels which took part in the Dunkirk Evacuation in 1940. 

Her Majesty’s Royal Marine Band in a dry land performance

The Jubilant Commonwealth Choir will be on Barge #5, followed by the Shree Muktajeevan Pipe Band and Dhoul Ensemble on #6.  This group sounds quite fascinating.  For more information, click here.

Shree Muktajeevan Pipe Band and Dhoul Ensemble

Barge #7 will bring an ensemble playing new music created for the occasion by ten prominent UK composers, each taking as inspiration a movement from Handel’s Water Music.

The Mayor’s Junior Jubilee Brass Band will perform on Barge #8. Still to be determined is Barge #9.

On the final musical barge, #10, the London Philharmonic Orchestra will perform favorites from the Proms.

The new royal barge

Since I will not be in London (boo-hoo) for the great event, I am hoping that arrangements have been made to capture the flotilla on the Thames for the rest of us — on a DVD.  [Or could we suggest to BBC America that they take a day off from that predictable cursing chef and the Top Gear nutcases and Dr. No (how many times???) to bring us something we really want to see on June 3?  I fear it is too much to hope for.  Nevertheless, I will keep my fingers crossed.]

For more pictures and all the details, check out the Daily Mail’s article, here.

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