Dunedin musical family to figure in royal Hillary service

A Dunedin father-and-son team will play a significant part in the royal ‘‘thanksgiving service'' for the late Sir Edmund Hillary, to be held in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, on Wednesday.

In front of the Hillary family, the Queen and other dignitaries, 26-year-old Nicholas Madden will sing a solo written by his father, Richard Madden, who is choral director at the University of Otago's Knox College.

The piece of music, for organ and choir, entitled How Beautiful Are the Mountains, was written by Mr Madden five or six years ago as a wedding anthem for friends.

Nicholas, a tenor ‘‘lay clerk'' in the St George's Chapel choir, introduced his father's music to the choir's musical director, who chose it for inclusion in the thanksgiving service.

The service is being held at the chapel because Sir Edmund was one of its 25 Knights of the Garter and Wednesday's ceremony will include the ‘‘laying up'' of the banner bearing his coat of arms.

Richard Madden said last night it would be a ‘‘proud'' and ‘‘moving'' experience to have his son take part in the service.

He had written the music to text from Isaiah, chapter 52, verse 7, which begins: ‘‘How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings . . .''

He believed it would be a ‘‘particularly poignant'' part of the service.

Nicholas' mother, Robyn, said singing was her son's passion. He began singing in the St Paul's Cathedral choir in Dunedin when he was 6 and had been a member of the New Zealand Youth Choir. Like his father, he had also been a member of the University of Otago Capping Show ‘‘sextet''.

Nicholas left Dunedin for a position at Ely Cathedral in 2003 before winning a place in the St George's Chapel choir in September, where he performs six days a week.

He has sung for the Queen twice, including a solo on one occasion.

Dunedin bass baritone Jonathan Lemalu will also sing at the service.

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