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Thursday, November 4, 1999 Published at 15:02 GMT


'Cookin' new anthem' to greet millennium

An upbeat night is planned for Her Majesty

A "cookin' piece of music" is how organisers of the main millennium night celebrations are describing their specially-commissioned new version of the National Anthem.

A CD of the new arrangement, which features calypso-style samba drummers, Jools Holland on the piano and a massive orchestra, is being sent to the Queen for her approval.

Mark Fisher, creative director of the Dome spectacular, said: "We want to inject a bit of life into the anthem and make it more upbeat.

Traditional version 'bit leaden'

"The music in the half hour after midnight will be calypso-style and vibrant. It just seemed it would be a bit leaden for them to suddenly go into a 19th century hymn at the end of all that."

Mr Fisher said he was confident the Queen would be listening with a smile.

[ image: Jools Holland: Playing for the new Millenium]
Jools Holland: Playing for the new Millenium
But to make sure the arrangement does not come as too much of a shock to Her Majesty, a CD recording will be sent to Buckingham Palace before the big night.

The new arrangement has been made by classical composer, Jonathon Dove.

Before arriving at the Dome, the Queen will light the first millennium beacon at Tower Bridge.

Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh will then travel down the Thames on the Millennium of Peace river cruiser to the new pier at the dome.

Lord's Prayer

There will be a 21-gun salute from the decks of HMS Westminster as the Queen crosses the Meridian Line.

From about 10pm, guests will take their seats in the central arena of the Dome around a specially constructed stage to watch a programme of musical entertainment.

At around 11pm, pictures of the dawning millennium from around Northern Europe will be broadcast on giant screens inside the Dome.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, will then read the Lord's Prayer before guests are treated to a lavish performance of music performed by an 80-piece orchestra, a mixed choir of 400 as well as Jools Holland and his Big Band.

A number of celebrity soloists from the worlds of popular and classical music will also join the festivities.

The Queen will then lead the opening of the Dome, setting in motion what organisers call "an awe inspiring sequence of events".

Shortly before midnight, a solo chorister will sing the opening bars of A New Beginning by John Tavener. The orchestra, choirs and soloists on the main stage will join in the rendition.

Auld Lang Syne

The music will end as it began with the voice of the solo chorister blending into the quarter bells of Big Ben as the country enters the new millennium.

The chimes of Big Ben will be broadcast on the large screens around the auditorium as midnight strikes and guests celebrate in time honoured fashion to the strains of Auld Lang Syne.

Organisers say pictures of the Rivers of Fire - the pyrotechnic centrepiece of London's Big Time celebration - will be beamed into the building just after midnight.

The show in the Central Arena will then "explode" into new life as 400 carnival performers and 100 performers from the Dome's Millennium Show put on a special show for guests and television viewers.

The evening will end with the new arrangement of the national anthem before the Queen leads guests and performers out of the arena.

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