Emmy-nominated composer Sarah Class is one of the 12 composers chosen to write music for the coronation of King Charles. Here's all you need to know about Sarah's life and work.

Who is Sarah Class?

Sarah Class is an Emmy-nominated composer and singer-songwriter known in particular for her work on documentaries, natural history TV films and other television projects, including 'Africa', the six-part BBC TV series narrated by Sir David Attenborough. Other past projects include her score for the 1999 Hollywood drama The Weekend.

Read more of our Coronation composers series:

What was her early childhood like?

Though born in Watford, Class grew up on a nature reserve in an unspoilt part of the Isle of Wight. She spent much of her childhood collecting shells, pressing flowers and helping her father to fish, developing an affinity for nature that would later come to inform her music.

How did she get into classical music?

Although she doesn't come from a dynasty of professional musicians, Class's parents were both fans of music. Her father played classical piano while her mother loved songs from the sixties, and, according to Class, music was always playing on the radio in their home. Her first piano teacher was her father, and even as a small child of four or five years old, Class would make up her own pieces.

Passionate as she was about nature, she loved the idea of writing music for wildlife programmes. But she was also a keen painter, so after leaving school she went on to study Music and Related Arts at Chichester University, where she 'did a lot of painting to music and music to painting', as she recalls.

How did Sarah Class become a composer?

She sent some samples of her work to someone at the BBC Natural History Unit, who, instead of a steady stream of commissions, gave her a job as a production assistant. Still, it was a useful initial step, putting Class in touch with people from the industry, until eventually she got her foot in the door with a commission for a Natural World programme about whales in South America.

What is Sarah Class's music like?

Epic yet at the same time paradisiacal; a cinematic blend of folk, classical and electronic influences.

Has Sarah Class written for King Charles before?

Yes. As someone who shares her passion for nature with the monarch, she has written music for him before, not least 'Rhythm of the Earth', a music video for his sustainability project Terra Carta and charity World Land Trust, which was heard at COP26 in Glasgow in 2021.

Last year she wrote a piece called 'Resonate' for World Land Trust. She is also working on the HM King Charles III Sustainable Markets Initiative, providing music to films about innovative scientists and businesses working to create sustainability solutions.

How did she meet King Charles?

She actually met him briefly as a teenager, when he came to open her school. Years later, when she heard about his Terra Carta project, she felt compelled to write him a letter. 'I just thought his project was so brilliant, so this letter just poured out of me. I explained the work I'd done using music to raise environmental concerns and told him that I'd love to help in any way I could.

'Then I looked up the address of Clarence House online, put the letter in the post and forgot about it. A month later I got a personal letter from him saying that he was delighted to hear from me and asking if it would be possible for me to write a piece of music for his Terra Carta project.'

What is she writing for the coronation?

Sarah Class has written a piece for the pre-coronation service. It's a rendition of her composition 'Sacred Fire', performed by acclaimed South African soprano Pretty Yende.

A composer working across both classical and film music, Sarah Class was commissioned by the former Prince of Wales in 2021 to compose the anthem for His Majesty’s Terra Carta environmental initiative. ‘Sacred Fire’ conjures imagery from the Bible with its powerful lyrics. Through music, the composition evokes a bridge between the angelic and human realms.

How does she deal with the pressure of writing for the coronation?

Class says: 'The amazing thing is I didn’t feel pressure I just felt excited that I could write a piece of music and put everything into it. There was no particular brief other than that I knew it was going to be for a soprano voice and orchestra. The only thing that did feel slightly daunting was that I could in any direction with it; there were so many different things you could do. But Grahames's lyrics created a rhythm that contained me - in a good way.'


Hannah Nepilova is a regular contributor to BBC Music Magazine. She has also written for The Financial Times, The Times, The Strad, Gramophone, Opera Now, Opera, the BBC Proms and the Philharmonia, and runs The Cusp, an online magazine exploring the boundaries between art forms. Born to Czech parents, she has a strong interest in Czech music and culture.