Serenaded by a string octet playing Led Zeppelin’s “Over the Hills and Far Away,” the former Lord Mayor of Westminster, Lady Catherine Longworth, along with her husband, John, today officially invited the Harker Orchestra to play at the 2012 New Year’s Day parade celebration in London.
Wearing her official crimson, fur-trimmed robe, Lady Catherine presented the invitation to Butch Keller, upper school head. She further presented the school with the Westminster City crest and made a gift of cuff links to two leaders of the octet. In return, the school presented her with a basket of classic California goods, including a bottle from the Jarvis winery, California fruits, Ghirardelli chocolate and a variety of Harker souvenirs.
The ceremony opened with Bob Bone, executive director of London’s New Year’s Day parade, explaining, with inimitable dry British humor, how the parade, though only 25 years old, rivals the greatest parades in the U.S., including Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, with 750,000 parade goers and a TV audience of over 100 million. Bone noted that the Harker Orchestra will play in some of the finest venues in London on their visit, including Cadogan Hall, home of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Following the ceremony and entertainment, Sue Prutton, director of upper school volunteer programs and an Englishwoman, accompanied the visitors as they took a brief tour of the campus led by members of the octet.
“Well done, everyone!” said Prutton, following the visit. “Several members of the delegation including Lady Catherine and her husband told me just how impressed they were. Mr. Longworth, in particular, was especially complimentary (of the octet’s performance) and talked about (their) obvious talent for quite some while afterwards. You certainly represented Harker and, indeed, America, very well today.”
The parade will be the first official event celebrating Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee and London’s Olympic year. In addition, the parade’s Festival Concerts, in which Harker’s orchestra will play, are also the first events of London’s 2012 Cultural Olympiad.
Harker is among a number of schools selected from around the U.S. to be invited to perform in the parade and associated venues around London.