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.