‘Zadok the Priest’ was first performed for the coronation of King George II and Queen Caroline in 1727. It was one of four coronation anthems that George Friedrich Handel composed for the new King and it is seen by many as a watershed for Handel and as a break from the ‘Italian style’ that he had been following.
Having been given Naturalization earlier in the same year this work established Handel as a firm favourite of the British public and has been used at every coronation since.
Zadok builds up from a soft introduction in gentle increments using orchestra and organ in a very rhythmic progressive manner to then gently tumble away before a continuation of the build up, giving a feeling of growing anticipation. Even with the anticipation the shattering choral entry “Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anointed Solomon King” takes one by surprise. There is a feeling of release, rejoicing and awe as the chorus continue to praise the King to a climactic amen.
In the summer of 2015 I held an exhibition at the Old Mayor’s Parlour in Hereford that coincided with the 300th Three Choirs Festival. All the work was based on my understanding of Zadok through study of the score and many hours of listening to an edited CD of the various musical sections.
The series included works in Watercolour and Pastel, Oil on Canvas and Silverpoint. on Gesso.