Royal Wedding: Sheffield organist for the big day

Historic occasion: Robert Quinney in Westminster Abbey.
Historic occasion: Robert Quinney in Westminster Abbey.
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PRINCE William and Kate Middleton’s wedding march will benefit from that Sheffield touch today when a city musician makes his mark on the wedding of the decade.

Robert Quinney is playing the church organ which will accompany Wills and Kate’s wedding ceremony at Westminster Abbey.

Robert, aged 35, is the abbey’s sub-organist and is responsible for choosing and performing the music at major state occasions.

From his unique vantage point high up in the organ loft, Robert will be able to look down on the historic occasion and watch the Royal couple tie the knot. The audience will be the biggest he’s ever played to, including millions of TV viewers worldwide - but Robert said his role will be little different from his normal duties.

“In terms of what I have to do, this is very similar to things I have done many times before, which is a great thing to remember,” he said. “It’s a huge thing, but I have to remind myself it’s business as usual.”

Robert will take up his position at the organist’s stool at around 11am, ready for the Queen’s procession down the aisle.

The musician moved to Sheffield aged 10 and first played the organ at Ecclesall Parish Church, which he and wife Cecilia still attend. His piano teacher, Mary Cobbold, was organist at the church and suggested he try the instrument.

He went to school at Ecclesall Junior and Silverdale, and on leaving was awarded a sixth-form scholarship place at Eton, which led to an organ scholarship at King’s College, Cambridge.

In 2000 he was appointed assistant master of music at Westminster Cathedral and four years later moved to nearby Westminster Abbey.

Cecilia has received an invitation to be a guest at the ceremony, Robert revealed, but he hasn’t yet had the chance to meet Wills and Kate.

“I’ve been very much involved in helping with the choice of music and providing information and guidance but I’m not far enough up the food chain to have had personal contact,” he said.

The Quinneys live within the precincts of the abbey, so Robert’s parents, David and Lynn Quinney, will be travelling down from Sheffield to look after their grandchildren, Beatrice, six, and Alexander, who is four tomorrow.

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