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Tuesday, 26 February, 2002, 12:04 GMT
McCartney and John top Jubilee gig
Sir Paul McCartney
McCartney will be among the headlining stars
Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Elton John, Aretha Franklin and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa are among the big names headlining two special open-air concerts to celebrate the Queen's Golden Jubilee in June.

The Party
Sir Paul McCartney
Sir Elton John
Atomic Kitten
Eric Clapton
Phil Collins
S Club 7
Aretha Franklin
Tom Jones
Brian Wilson
Will Young

The classical and pop concerts - Prom at the Palace and Party at the Palace - will be held in the grounds of Buckingham Palace on 1 and 3 June respectively.

"It will be a very big and spectacular cast," royal communications secretary Simon Walker told BBC Breakfast News.

"British music has been dominant internationally throughout the Queen's reign, so picking some of the biggest stars of that period but also some of the current pop idols of the day seems a very good way to do it," he said.

Music producers Sir George Martin and Phil Ramone have consultative roles on the pop concert.

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa will be singing

There will be a house band, none of whose members, with the exception of drummer Phil Collins, is a household name.

But there has been no confirmation of rumours that a supergroup featuring Sir Paul and Rolling Stone Mick Jagger will perform.

Sir George said the UK's music was "something our country can be really proud of".

"No country has a finer tradition in producing great talent than ours, and we should be very proud of the enormous contribution that British artists and composers have made to the world of entertainment over the past 50 years," he said.

Classical stars

Among the classical singers appearing at the Prom at the Palace are Sir Thomas Allen, the most acclaimed British baritone of his generation, and the husband-and-wife team Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu.

Conductor Sir Andrew Davies and Mstislav Rostropovich, who is often named as the world's greatest living cellist, will also be appearing.

Sir George Martin
Sir George produced the Beatles at their creative peak

Sir Thomas said the event was unique, and that there was "a sort of family feeling" about it.

"I can't imagine something like this happening anywhere else in the world. There wouldn't be a reason for doing a concert like this anywhere else in the world," he told the BBC.

"I think it'll be rather special."

Keeper of the Privy Purse Sir Michael Peat, who has helped to organise the concerts, said: "The best way to celebrate and thank people is to invite them round to your place for a party - and that's what the Queen wants to do.

"She would have liked to ask all the people in the country to come, but they wouldn't fit in," Sir Michael added.

Singer Robbie Williams had been invited to perform at the Party at the Palace, but declined the offer.

'Tremendously keen'

He stressed: "It was not a question of not wanting to perform - it was a question of not being able to perform."

The Queen was "tremendously keen" on the musical programmes, he said.

His fellow organiser, the proms director Nicholas Kenyon, said the event would "make anything else that has happened in the Buckingham Palace gardens look like a garden party".

Robbie Williams
Robbie: Unable to perform

But Mr Kenyon refused to be drawn on whether she or any other members of the royal family had been involved with choosing the musicians.

About 12,000 tickets will be allocated by ballot for each concert as the Royal Family aims to give everyone a fair chance of being part of the crowd.

Organisers have dedicated 3,000 telephone lines to dealing with calls.

They expect to receive around 100,000 calls an hour.

The Prom
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa
Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu
Sir Thomas Allen
Sir Andrew Davies
Mstislav Rostropovich

Applicants will find out if they have been successful in April.

The BBC will produce and broadcast both concerts - which take place over an extended bank holiday weekend - around the world.

People will be able to watch the concerts on big screens set up in public parks around the country.

To whet the public's appetite, comedian Rowan Atkinson will be starring in a one-minute television advertisement for the event.

He will play a modern-day incarnation of his popular TV character Blackadder.

To apply for tickets, call 0900 1952 2002 from within the UK. Calls cost no more than 1 and lines will be open until 17 March.

Applications can also be made at

The BBC's Rosie Millard
"The Queen will be joining 24,000 people in her back garden"

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See also:

26 Feb 02 | Entertainment
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