The Choir of the Chapel Royal
By the time Purcell joined it as a choirboy after the Restoration, the Chapel Royal was already the oldest and most brilliant adornment of English musical life. Former members had included Cornyshe, Fayrfax, Tallis, Byrd, Gibbons, Morley and Hooper, and after the glorious generation of Purcell and Blow it counted Handel among its composers. In an unbroken line to the present day, the Chapel Royal gave early musical training to Thomas Attwood, S.S. Wesley and Arthur Sullivan. Its role today is the same as it was in Purcell’s, and indeed in Byrd’s day: to sing the regular services in the Chapel of the monarch’s home, and to accompany the monarch to State services and other events elsewhere as commanded, nowadays including the Remembrance Day Parade at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, and events at the Abbey such as coronations, marriages and funerals of monarchs and their families. One notable difference in the organisation of such occasions from Purcell’s day is that singers and organists are no longer members of both Chapel Royal and Abbey choirs at the same time- nearly all the Chapel Royal Gentlemen, including Purcell, were on the pay-roll of both places in 1685: naturally all chose to appear with the senior and more prestigious musical institution, providing deputies for their Abbey employment.