June 6th and 7th – Soft Power – Military Bands – Homecoming

Most everyone went home yesterday, filled with the satisfaction of a job well done, the pride of representing the artistry and heart of America and wonderful memories. A few took of for Switzerland, France, Austria or Ireland. Mark and I have a few more days in England and then we head for Madrid and Mallorca, Spain.

Yesterday, we caught up with laundry (somethings remain constant) and finally took the train back to Central London. We simply strolled St. James Park until it was time to enter the outdoor arena where we had great seats to enjoy “A Musical Spectacular”, the massed bands of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines. The event was a fund-raiser for the Royal Navy & Marines Charitable Trust Fund. It truly was spectacular. The music was glorious and the precision astounding. The featured pieces included Beating Retreat and Ceremonial Sunset. The event started out with a parade by the Horse Guards (always awe-inspiring) followed by the taking of Salute with Admirable Sir Mark Stanhope. HRH Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinbugh was also to be in attendance to take salute, but was still ill, although recovering well. The sun was shining up until the moment that the bands took the field and then the skies opened up and the rain came down in sheets! The band did not miss a beat, a step or a note! They kept right on going. At the close of the program the rain had stopped and the crowd sang and cheered. In my head and heart I was hearing “Stars and Stripes Forever.”

What truly impressed me was a comment in their program that speaks to the heart of how I believe music is life-affirming and life-affecting. They refer to music as “Soft Power”. This is in keeping with what I have always held true and the purpose of my speech when I had the honor of addressing US Coast Guard this past Spring. I see us as another branch of the service – a peace keeping and peace enabling force. The British refer to this as “soft power.” The following is a direct quote taken from the evening’s program: “The phrase Soft Power has long been used to describe a situation where you can influence, reassure and win hearts and minds to maintain and build long lasting diplomatic relationships without the use of force. Music is a proven tool that can be used as an enabler to to bridge language and cultural barriers to best influence both friendly and enemy forces.”

Today was a day of catch-up and rest. We are getting ready to take the train back to Central London for dinner in Covet Gardens and to the theatre to see a play called “What the Butler Saw,” a British comedy. I’ll post a quick review later.

Looking ahead – I am very excited about tomorrow’s activities. We are taking a day trip to Oxford, Cotswod, Stratford-on-the-Avon and Warrick Castle. It will be a very early rise and a very long day, but to see the birthplace of Shakespeare, meander through Oxford, see the Christ Church dinning room (think Harry Potter) and stroll through the English countryside and the castle will be worth it.

It’s pouring rain and we are off to London . . . I love this whole experience.

More to come.

Musically Yours,
Marcy Sudock

June 5, 2012 – Queen’s Carriage Procession – Buckingham Palace – Fly Over

Today is the final day of the Musique Sur La Mer Chamber Orchestra Diamond Jubilee Concert Tour. Tomorrow most of the musicians will return home to the USA, while others have extended their stay and will travel to various destinations – France, Switzerland, Austria, Spain or Ireland.

Today we took the train into Central London, found our place in the parade route a block from Westminster Abbey, Parliament and Big Ben. With flags in hand ready to wave at a moment’s notice we waited in anticipation of getting another glimpse of the Queen. We were not disappointed. The overt love of their monarch and pride in their country is admirable. When the Queen, with other members of the Royal family stood on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, red bunting draped with gold trim along the banister, one was reminded that iconic figures who represent their constituency have the power to lead by example. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is such a leader. Her charitable works and unflinching loyalty and commitment to duty is admirable. The fly over was breath-taking.

Speaking as an American, monarchy is something a bit foreign, out of a history book or fairytale. So why did we, an American ensemble of musicians cross the great pond to bear witness, celebrate and offer our services to help the people of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth? We support all freedom loving people, the alliance between the U.S. and the United Kingdom is solid, we had something to offer with our music that could benefit a multitude (and we love a good party.) Let’s face it, no one does pageantry like the British.

Today was filled with patriotism, joy, pride, rain (that could not dampen the spirit), and lots of shopping.

This MUST continue. We want to show our pride as Americans. We want to benefit others. We can do this with our music. We need your help. Contact me if you would like to sponsor a concert.

More to come!

June 4th – Diamond Jubilee – Buckingham Palace Concert and MSLM Party

Another day filled with glorious surprises. Mark and I took the train into Central London and went on a tour of Westminster Abbey. There truly are no words to describe the sensation of walking through history and imagining events from years gone by. We walked along the banks of the Thames, taking photos along the way – Parliament – The London Eye – statue of Winston Churchill and on to the Tower of London. We met up with our son, Joshua and went to for a traditional British lunch of fish and chips with vinegar. Yum.

The other musicians went their own ways to museums, plays, concerts and the like. Free days are always filled with wonder.

Finally – with 20,000 people crowding the mall to Buckingham Palace – The Diamond Jubilee BBC Concert – Sir Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Sir Elton John and so much more. . .fireworks, unbelievable effects, flags waving, people singing and dancing and then the Royal family. The clouds parted, the sun shone through and although brisk, the night was perfect. MSLMCO had a party in a private room of our hotel (Croydon Park Hotel) in a celebration that was without question a blast and a half! We had an array of foods that included lobster tails to smoked salmon to grilled meats to vegetarian curry to salads of every kind and a dessert table that would tempt even the most finicky eater. Our tour managers, John and Catherine and Julien Schulthess from United World Concert Tours outdid themselves and we are most grateful. As we watched the Queen light the Jubilee beacon, we all sang “God Save the Queen.”

As an orchestral conductor, I am humbly grateful to the wonderful musicians who have performed so brilliantly under my baton. They represented the music and our country with grace, professionalism, musicality and enthusiasm. We are all grateful to our anonymous benefactor who made this possible. (If you are reading this, know that you hold a very special place in our hearts and have made a huge positive impact in all of our lives.)

As Americans, we are all deeply proud to be representing our nation and our town as unofficial ambassadors of goodwill. We have all behaved in a manner that would make you proud to call us your own.

Tomorrow we (MSLMCO) are heading for Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s Carriage procession and hopefully find great viewing.

As you may have heard, Prince Phillip was taken to the hospital this day with a bladder infection. We all pray for his speedy and complete recovery.

If you or if you know someone who would like to sponsor one or more concerts when we get home, please have them contact me. This orchestra is world class and should be heard at home, as well as abroad. Go to the bottom of our homepage and click on “PRESS” to view newspaper articles with photos and honors bestowed upon Musique Sur La Mer.

Thank you so much.

June 3rd – The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee – Floatilla Pageant

Setting the scene . . . It was a brisk, rainy, gray day, but spirits were high and the excitement was palpable. It’s been 300 years since a floatilla pageant of this magnitude has occurred. We took the train (20 minute ride) to Victoria Station in Central London and then walked to the Chelsea Bridge. We had special tickets to be on the West side of the Chelsea bridge (perfect viewing.) We arrived by 8:45 AM and secured prime front row seating in the center of the bridge! Our tickets included sandwiches, scones, clotted cream, strawberry jam and tea. When we say that no one does pageantry like the British, we mean it.

The procession on the Thames began at 2:45 PM with enormous bells on a barge heralding the the upcoming event. Then hundreds of boats, large and small, motored, pedaled, rowed, representing the many countries within the Commonwealth filled the river. They were met with cheers and flags. The the moment we had been waiting six hours on a rainy bridge arrived – heralded by royal fanfare trumpets – the Queen’s barge! Her Majesty, bedecked in a stunning white ensemble suit and hat looked regal, vital, and truly happy. Prince Phillip, Prince Charles, Prince Harry and the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, were in full military regalia. Prince Philip appeared spry, fit and very proud. Prince Charles was truly happy. Camilla wore a cream outfit with her curled hair peeking out beneath a very smart hat. The visual star was Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge in a magnificent red outfit with her signature fascinator style hat tilted to the right was a feather touch.

The pageant continued with bagpipes, yachts, barges and military boats. A very moving moment included the boats the rescued the sailors from Dunkirk. On board the boats were survivors and those who saved them.

The finale of the floatilla (4 hours later) included a concert of iconic British pieces performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. It was exciting, whimsical and truly joyous.

Today we, Musique Sur La Mer, were witness to history in the making. Cold, wet and overtired – we enjoyed every moment.

But wait. . .there’s more to come. . .

A Glorious Night! BRAVO MUSIQUE!

It’s 2:46 AM on Sunday and I am finally getting ready for bed. What a day and evening. It was a gray and rainy day in London and appeared as the backdrop for a 1940’s movie. We arrived at the Royal College of Music (RCM) at 1 PM, set up, had a sound check and then rehearsed until 5 PM Once everyone settled down we accomplished a great deal. Between 5 PM and 7 PM we were having our hair and make-up done by a wonderful team of stylists who came to the RCM to help us get ready for the big concert. Hair, make-up, music ready – we were primed to go.

7:30 PM on the button Mark and I climbed the stairs to the stage to be greeted by the orchestra and a full house!!!!

Mark was magnificent as he read the script to the totally enraptured crowd. Trumpet fanfare then the first piece of music – “Chronicles of Narnia – Prince Caspian” – truly magnificent. The program continued with jazz, classical, a bit of Baroque and so much more. Linda Muggeridge was outstanding, performing the Marcello “Oboe Concerto in d minor”. A true high point (among the many showstoppers of the evening) was the “Suite for Strings” by John Rutter. It was exquisitely performed. Leslie Lewis singing “At Last” and “I Will Always Love You”, inspired a standing ovation. By the time we played “Land of Hope and Glory” the entire audience was on their feet, singing and waving flags. We were invited on stage for many curtain calls and performed an encore of “O Lady Be Good” with solos performed by Mari Haig and Marcy Vaj (violins), Toby Coles (trumpet), James Knight (tenor saxophone) and Leslie Lewis (vocals). The entire evening was truly glorious.

We raised a ton on $$$ for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Trust and solidified our place in history (albeit a footnote.)

After the concert we celebrated at a local restaurant and then back to our hotel as a gentle rain continued its steady stream. It was a magnificent night. I will share videos on our website and on Youtube within a couple of weeks.

Bravo – Musique Sur La Mer Chamber Orchestra – Bravo, Mark Sudock and thank you to all of you for your support and well wishes.

In a few short hours we will be on our way to the Chelsea Bridge (rain or shine) to watch the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Floatilla Pageant with more than 1,000 barges on the Thames headed by Her Majesty on the royal barge. The adventure continues . . .