Music to snooze by for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee

The plans for the river pageant are an embarrassment

The whiff of magic lingers about the musical plans for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee river pageant – but it's not the sort of magic you'd expect. Some people are already puzzling over how the London Philharmonic Orchestra can be aboard a barge when simultaneously at Glyndebourne, performing The Cunning Little Vixen. And that's just for starters.

This extraordinary event on the afternoon of 3 June will involve 1,000 boats escorting Her Majesty along the Thames from Hammersmith to Greenwich, punctuated by significant musical contributions. But the pageant's playlist reads like a kind of UKIP fantasy. It barely reflects even a distorted portrait of today's UK; most of it would have looked dated when the Queen first came to the throne.

The pageant falls into various sections, a music barge heralding each one. First up, there's a floating bell tower. Next, 100 boats back, it just has to be Handel: the Water Music (played by the excellent Academy of Ancient Music). How original! The Queen's royal barge, The Spirit of Chartwell, is to be announced by trumpeters playing fanfares at each bridge in turn. The Band of the Royal Marines follows, playing "marine marches" and "popular nautical airs" – ie, sea shanties.

Amateur choral singing is one of the great joys of British musical life: on barge no. 5 a choir of 120 amateur singers from around the Commonwealth is being assembled by composer Orlando Gough and singing coach Mary King. Gough is writing a new song for the occasion, with words by the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. Apart from that, these Commonwealth citizens are going to sing... ah, British folksongs. A case of "look who's boss"?

Then there is one whole barge containing some actual music from far-off lands: India and, er, Scotland. Fifty musicians from the Shree Muktajeevan Pipe Band and Dhol Academy are to play what's being described as "a mixture of traditional Indian melodies, Scottish tunes and Bollywood anthems on bagpipes and percussion". I'm sure they are excellent musicians – but this is the sole gesture that acknowledges the existence of other musical traditions within the UK. Even then it seems possibly inspired by the former empire rather than more recent multicultural achievements.

The most creative barge is devoted to new music by 10 British film composers, who are creating a suite inspired by Handel's Water Music. It's great to see among them Anne Dudley, Jocelyn Pook and Debbie Wiseman, three women composers who are all national treasures; and their male colleagues are a fine collection too: Graham Fitkin, Gavin Greenaway, Christopher Gunning, Adrian Johnston, John Lunn, Julian Nott and Stephen Warbeck. But why film composers in particular? And why did they have to model their works on a piece written 295 years ago? Are film composers perhaps considered less scary a prospect than those big bad wolves of the concert-hall mainstream who write – shock, horror – modernism?

But the next offering sounds a note of really bitter irony: a brass band of 75 young players, aged 12-21. Yet this celebration sails in at a time when tuition at the English music colleges is about to lose all government funding, along with most arts and humanities higher-education courses.

The LPO, or an incarnation of it, brings up the rear, conducted by David Parry – not, as was incorrectly reported elsewhere, its principal conductor, Vladimir Jurowski, who's doing Glyndebourne. It's not so unusual for orchestras to multi-task, though to do so this visibly seems tactless. They will play British music of the type we hear at the Last Night of the Proms. If this is an orchestra packaged as something grander than it is, playing music that packages the UK as something it is not, that kind of says it all.

Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Arts and Entertainment
Swiss guards stand in the Sistine Chapel, which is to be lit, and protected, by 7,000 LEDs
artSistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer, Lord Alan Sugar, Karren Brady are returning for The Apprentice series 10

TV
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder star in 'Girl, Interrupted'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Thomas Pynchon in 1955, left, and Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix in Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of his novel, Inherent Vice

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Nicole Scherzinger will join the cast of Cats

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Fans were left surprised by the death on Sunday night's season 26 premiere

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lady Mary goes hunting with suitor Lord Gillingham

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, finds himself at the centre of a media storm when his wife is reported missing and assumed dead

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lindsay Lohan made her West End debut earlier this week in 'Speed-the-Plow'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Artist Nathan Sawaya stands with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Art of Brick Exhibition

art
Arts and Entertainment
'Strictly Come Dancing' attracted 6.53 million viewers on Friday
tv
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant plays Detective Emmett Carver in the US version on Broadchurch

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School in 'The Caretaker'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the 'isolation forged by their remoteness'
photographyJimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style
Arts and Entertainment
David Byrne
musicDavid Byrne describes how the notorious First Lady's high life dazzled him out of a career low
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

    Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

    A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
    Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

    Time to stop running

    At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
    An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

    An app for the amorous

    Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

    Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
    She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

    She's having a laugh

    Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

    Let there be light

    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
    Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

    Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

    Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
    Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

    A look to the future

    It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
    The 10 best bedspreads

    The 10 best bedspreads

    Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
    Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

    Arsenal vs Galatasaray

    Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
    Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence