Following this evening’s official announcement, Judith Weir will become the Master of the Queen’s Music in an official capacity after meeting with the Queen on 22 July. At the same audience with the monarch, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies will officially step down in his role, which he has held since 2004.
The role itself – a musical equivalent of Poet Laureate – carries no fixed duties, but usually involves composing music for important state occasions, including coronations, birthdays, and ceremonial occasions, as well as advising the monarch on musical matters. Weir said she plans to take a hands-on approach to the role, visiting and listening to a wide range of musicians across the country.
“It is a great honour to take up the position of Master of the Queen’s Music, in succession to Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, who has given his musical and personal gifts so freely to this unusual national role,” she said. “I hope to encourage everyone in the UK who sings, plays or writes music, and to hear as many of them as possible in action over the next ten years.
“Listening is also a skill, and I intend to uphold our rights to quietness and even silence, where appropriate. Above all, our children deserve the best we can give them, and that includes access to live music, whether as learners, performers or listeners.”
Born in Cambridge in 1954, Weir is most famous for her operatic and theatrical works, often taking inspiration from medieval history and traditional Scottish music. In 2007, she was honoured with the Queen’s Medal for Music, an annual award to celebrate the winner’s contribution to British musical life.
Previous holders of the post can be traced back to Nicholas Lanier, who was appointed as Master of the King’s Musick in 1626. The role included taking charge of the monarch’s private band, a responsibility which continued until the band was dissolved in 1901.