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More Ricardian Music: “The King in a Car Park”

As we have reported previously on Ricardian music, this week’s news brings us additional information about a new piece – a cantata written by Benjamin Vaughan and Philip Gross. According to the Leicester Cathedral Facebook page:

“The King in the Car Park comprises nine movements in a variety of musical styles as diverse as jazz, musical theatre and folk. Telling the story of Richard III’s life, death in battle and recent rediscovery, culminating in the finale ‘Coming Home’. The music has been written by up-and-coming Welsh composer Benjamin Vaughan who studied composition at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and the libretto by Creative Writing professor Philip Gross. The piece will be performed for the first time by 300 primary school children from schools across Leicester and Leicestershire who have worked with DioSing! Choral Directors during this academic year will sing alongside Leicester Cathedral choristers, Loughborough Children’s Choir, a counter tenor soloist, and a live band including piano, flute, clarinet, double bass, a variety of medieval instruments and the Leicester Cathedral organ. All welcome!”

While some Ricardians might be scratching their heads, or gnashing their teeth, about the incorporation of jazz, musical theatre and folk into a 21st century cantata about Richard III’s life, discovery in 2012 and reinterment in 2015, it is hard not to appreciate that a community is truly connecting to this monarch.

And why not? Richard himself was a patron of music, and his life story can be inspiration to musicians and artists of all disciplines. This is a way to knit history into our present day.

PICTURE MIKE SEWELL. Leicestershire school pupils rehearse their singing for the production of The King in the Car Park at Leicester Cathedral. (news)

PICTURE MIKE SEWELL. Leicestershire school pupils rehearse their singing for the production of The King in the Car Park at Leicester Cathedral.

If people recoil from the adoption of “modern music” to depict past events, they might want to know that Georg Handel – a German immigrant who studied in Italy and barely knew English – did the same when he wrote a totally new, and innovative piece in the 18th century – adopting all the newest and greatest and cutting-edge musical devices of his days. It’s now used to crown all future Kings and Queens of England:


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4 thoughts on “More Ricardian Music: “The King in a Car Park”

  1. Jasmine on said:

    Great post. It is gratifying to see whole communities involved in celebrating Richard’s life and times, especially the involvement of children.


  2. viscountessw on said:

    Those who do not approve of modern music for past events should perhaps reflect that ALL music was modern at some point. From the first pagan/heathen chant, the first sweet note in China, to the earliest clarion call, it was the latest thing when it commenced. Many of us may prefer to hear the type of music with which Richard was familiar, but that does not make a musical piece of 2015 any less meaningful.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kalina on said:

    Music is eternal and should not be divided between “ancien” and “modern” ones. Richard III is worthy of every music. On condition that it is very good:))

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Zadoc the Priest always reminds me of Richard now – they played it on the documentary The King in the Car Park, when I first became fascinated by him.


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