“Sworn to secrecy”: Aussie dad finally able to crow about daughter’s royal moment
As one of the four-person choir that sang at Prince Philip’s scaled-back funeral, Miriam Allan also stood out as the only woman. Back in his Newcastle home, her father watched on proudly.
Chris Allan said he has known his daughter was incredibly talented since she was a “musically precocious” six-year old.
Ms Allan performed Jubilate Deo, Benjamin Britten’s sacred choral composition, alongside the choir at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor on Saturday. But, this wasn’t the first time she’s sung the song, having performed it since she was a child growing up in New South Wales.
Before her latest performance and the establishment of her international renown as a soprano, her father said she would perform it at Newcastle’s Christ Church Cathedral.
“The Britten that they sang during the service, she’s been singing since she was a little kid,” Mr Allan said.
Having since moved to England in 2003, Mr Allan said his daughter would use him as a “sounding board”. He watched as her career blossomed, taking her on tours around the world with leading orchestras and choirs.
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Reminiscing on fond memories of accompanying his daughter on piano, as a composer, and singing together, he said, “I played for her and gave her music to sing and so forth when she was younger.”
“There were many times when we sang or played together - I would play the piano and accompany her.”
The pair have performed on some of the same programs since she was a teenager. Their most recent performance in August 2019 was for the Newcastle Music Festival - held in the cathedral where her musical career started.
Ms Allan is married to Richard Bannan, a lay clerk, one of the 12 choral singers employed to sing at St. George’s Chapel. She also teaches singing in Oxfordshire and is a singing coach at a preparatory school in Westminster.
Mr Allan said he was thrilled to watch his daughter perform at the sombre yet moving service for Prince Philip.
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But, this isn’t the first time she’s performed for the Duke either. Mr Allan said, “She used to sing years ago in the Royal Guards Chapel and Prince Philip would often come to that, so she had sung for him a number of times.”
“It was quite a lovely experience to be able to sing [for him] again.”
Until a phone call on Friday afternoon, Mr Allan had no idea that his daughter would be performing for Queen Elizabeth and the 30 other royal family members in attendance and had expected her husband would be the one singing.
“She said, ‘Someone in the family is going to sing and it’s not Rich’,” he said.
“We were sworn to secrecy at the time because it was all embargoed.”
He was surprised and thrilled, and said “it was a great opportunity for her.”
Mr Allan, along with his wife, Gerogei Laney, watched the performance from their Newcastle home.
Commenting on her composure, he said, “To have that ability and to be able to keep your composure under that stressful condition when you know lots of people are watching is pretty good.”