May 2019 saw the release of a brand new double CD recording, An English Coronation, recorded at Ely Cathedral last summer. The CD features music used in a series of Royal coronations, from the crowning of King Edward VII in 1902 to Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. The project was led by Paul McCreesh, a long standing friend of Chetham’s, with members of the Gabrieli Consort. Gabrieli Players and children from eleven schools and youth choirs across the country, brought together though the Gabrieli Roar choral training programme. Alongside professional soloists, and actor Simon Russell Beale representing the Archbishop of Canterbury, were a group of Chetham’s students and alumni forming a Symphonic Brass and Percussion Ensemble, led by Head of Brass and Percussion David Chatterton.
Chetham’s part of the project began in early 2018, when David and three Chetham’s students travelled to Bradford, to begin exploring the music used in five coronations. The group who travelled to Ely in August 2018 combined ten former students and staff members with six current brass players and two percussionists, who together performed the seven fanfares integral to many of the coronations’ most memorable moments. Alumna Hannah Aurora, now playing with the Royal Regiment of Scotland, worked closely with David to source historical instruments suited to the recording, which were loaned by Portsmouth Royal Marines. These formed just a small number of the instruments used in the recording, which featured period brass instruments manufactured between the 1890s and 1940s.
Following two days of rehearsal, almost 1000 performers gave a concert in Ely Cathedral before two further days of recording. For Chetham’s players, it was a superb opportunity to work on a professional level, unite current and former students, and to support the educational ideals of Gabrieli Roar. As Gabrieli flautist Katy Bircher describes it in the CD’s notes, “The quality of the sound and their focus and commitment was unforgettable and gives me hope not just for the future of music, but for the future in general with this generation at the helm.”
Reviews of the recording have been superb, with 5 stars from The Times and Robert Hugill. Comments included, “What makes this album particularly exciting is, firstly, the sense of history and tradition that is so vividly conveyed and, secondly, the fact that so many young musicians—clearly very talented—have been involved” (Presto Classical) and “During the service there are copious opportunities for fanfares. These are played – marvellously – by the Chetham’s Symphonic Brass Ensemble” (Music Web International).