'It's surreal': Canadian to play King Charles's former cello in coronation concert
LONDON — When Marion Portelance plays in King Charles's coronation concert on Sunday, she'll be playing a cello with a special connection to the monarch.
The student from the Royal College of Music, who is originally from Montreal, will be playing on a William Forster cello from 1804 that is believed to the same one once owned and played by King Charles.
The 24-year-old says she's honoured and excited to play at the concert, which follows Saturday's coronation ceremony.
"It's surreal to me to be able to participate in a historic event like this," she said in an interview.
She said the instrument was played by King Charles during his days as a student. It was later sold to benefit charity, Portelance said, and then donated by the Linbury Trust to the Royal College of Music's collection.
"So, a lot of history and a beautiful instrument, and it sounds amazing," she said.
Portelance is part of a string quartet that will perform a new arrangement of the song "Somewhere" from West Side Story, as part of a collaboration that includes the Royal Opera and the Royal Ballet. The Royal College of Art will provide a visual backdrop.
"It's just a big collaboration of all sorts of arts and I think it represents really well the fact that King Charles was always a big advocate for the arts and especially for music," said Portelance, who is a graduate of the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal.
She said she was contacted a few months ago to ask if she was free the first weekend in May, but only later found out why.
Pop stars Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and opera singer Andrea Bocelli are among the headliners that are scheduled to be performing at Sunday's concert at Windsor Castle.
Portelance got a chance to visit the site for the first time on Thursday for a rehearsal, which made the situation feel even more real.
Portelance said she's more excited than nervous, but is trying not to think about whether the King will be paying special attention to her performance on the cello he used to play.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 5, 2023.
Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press