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The National Symphony Orchestra on board Queen Mary 2

October 21, 2011

We Are Cunard

Posted in: Guest Stories, Queen Mary 2

Guest Blog – Anthony Inglis, Conductor, The National Symphony Orchestra

This is Anthony Inglis and it has been my privilege to conduct my orchestra, The National Symphony Orchestra, on Queen Mary 2’s recent eastbound Transatlantic Crossing, which departed New York on 7 October.

More than half way across, we performed The First Night of the Cunard Proms for two delighted audiences at full capacity in the Royal Court Theatre. The performances celebrated American music that included “Rhapsody in Blue,” Sousa marches and some Broadway classics. The audiences particularly enjoyed fellow guests Toni and Roselyn, who came on stage and joined the orchestra by playing the bell in the “Liberty Bell March.” Thanks, ladies! The orchestra played well and, in my humble opinion, deserved the standing ovation they received from the audience. 

Conductor Anthony Inglis (centre) poses with members of The National Symphony Orchestra and Choir of Queen Mary 2 during rehearsals for The Last Night of the Cunard Proms on the 7 October Transatlantic Crossing.

We also had a huge number of guests who volunteered to sing in the choir at The Last Night of the Cunard Proms, which highlights music by British composers and recreates the atmosphere of the Royal Albert Hall in Westminster, London, where the annual summer Proms concert has been held since 1941. Made up of nearly 200 guests, the Queen Mary 2 choir and I had three rehearsals, which were a lot of fun as we practiced  singing the Proms favourites – “Rule Britannia,” “Jerusalem” and “Land of Hope and Glory” – plus my own arrangement of “Amazing Grace” sung in harmony. This anthem and arrangement is almost the signature tune of Cunard, as famed opera singer Lesley Garrett and I performed it at the Naming Ceremonies of Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth in addition to most of the concerts in Liverpool, either on board or at the Liverpool Cathedral during one of the Cunard ships’ Round Britain voyage.

For this voyage, the guests and I laughed and bantered as we worked our way through our hour-long rehearsals.  Some guests were singing in a choir for the first time, achieving a lifetime’s ambition; and others who regularly sing in a choir got a chance to perform on the stage of the Royal Court Theatre. Some were aboard last year, and some others deliberately booked this voyage in order to sing. But I think I held my own and we achieved an emotional and brilliant event for The Last Night of the Proms.

I will report back and let you know how we got on.

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Peter will be back next week with our next blog including an update on Queen Mary 2′s upcoming refit. Have a great weekend all!

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  1. Roger Hallett says:

    As a member of the First Queen Elizabeth Guest Choir earlier this year, I was most interested to read this blog of the wonderful event on QM2 with members of the National Symphony Orchestra. What a great sound it must have been in Royal Court on QM2. I look forward to the next report!

  2. Judith Sayers says:

    Will they be performing next year on board QM2? If so I hope its when we will be on our trip. Sounds as if it was a special experience for everyone.

  3. Beryl Moss says:

    Having read in the press over the weekend that the Queens are to be re-registered abroad to enable weddings to take place, I feel that this makes the passing of QE2 all the more poignant as we no longer build ships in Britain and now it looks as though they will not even have a British registration. I realise that Cunard has to move with the times but feel that it will be a very sad moment when their British registry is taken away.

  4. Peter Shanks says:

    Dear Beryl – All of us at Cunard pride ourselves on the British Signatures we have on board and on the fact that we remain a British company in all that we do. We remain based in Southampton,England and we will continue to fly the Red Ensign. Our intention is to nurture those ‘British’ features that our guests have come to cherish – remembering that we have a wide range of international guests these days and a wide range of nationalities amongst our Ship’s Company. I do very much understand your comments. At the same time it is very important that Cunard continues to prosper and listens to the demands of our current and future guests. Where we have the opportunity to do so – for example with ‘Weddings at Sea’ then we have a responsibility to ensure that Cunard continues to prosper and moves with the times. We are currently finding our ‘renewal of vows’ very popular and feel that weddings will do well. We will of course make sure they are conducted on board in a way that is appropriate to Cunard and that they do not impact on the enjoyment of other guests. In summary – I, along with my colleagues, very much understand your concerns and we are together committed to make sure that though the place of registration on the aft of the ships will change – what we offer our guests on board will not. I wish it were the case that our three recent ships could have been built in Britain, we tried. However, the facilities to do so simply do not exist. Having said that – led by British Design, Technology and Project Management and working closely with our friends at Chantiers and Fincantieri we believe that the Queen Mary 2 , Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth live up to the best that Cunard has delivered in ship design and ambiance over many years. Kind Regards. Peter

  5. I was just on the QM2 transatlantic and had my first Cunard experience. I was surprised at just how much there was to do for all ages. The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts did workshops, poetry to Jazz. Canterbury tales production and Much ado about Nothing. The Afternoon Tea was fantastic. And I thouroughly enjoyed Todd English. We had a lovely table with a variety of people from the US, Canada and England. Bright, well traveled passengers with a sense of wanting to either relax and unwind or wanting to experience the crossing as a part of world history. The ship was quite stabel and other than one day with some minor motion it barely rocked. I visited the sheltered baclony which I tihnk is a great option lower down for those worried about movement.

    Speakers on Doris Duke, a former white house correspondent helped provide dinner conversation. Also people told their stories of their excitement about either London or New York swapping tips on restaurants and must see experiences. An extensive library on board with many places to read quietly. Hundreds partaking in Apple courses. Dance Classes and the unique plantarium, which is also a 3d theatre which showed Carmen one night.

  6. Daryl Cooper says:

    Beryl I am with you. I consider it to be a further “Carnivalising” albeit “Americanising” of our beloved Cunard. I would appreciate an advice on the newspaper article that you refer to re the Registry change as we in Australia, the Queen is here at the moment and as is corrcet she has all the publicity thus we “Aussies” are not privvy to the information you have re Cunard’s change of Registry.As another blogger suggested the name on our beloved ships will be “Hamilton”. Love live the Queen!!!

  7. Beryl Moss says:

    Darryl The article in the press stated that Cunard had made the decision for the 3 Queens to have Bermudan registry to enable weddings to be conducted on board.I must admit I did not realise that ships had to have a foreign registry to enable this to take place. According to the press release this is to take place when they return from their World Cruises in 2012.

  8. Beryl Moss says:

    Good Morning Peter Many thanks for your reply which I totaly understand and look forward to many more Cunard voyages in the future. Regards Beryl

  9. Barry Slater says:

    Dear Sir,
    Having boarded Quueen Mary 2 in October 2011 for the eastbound crossing New York / Southampton I was delighted to find that National Sympony Orchestra were performing on this voyage. Even more delightful was having the opportunity to sing in the choir for the last night of the proms under the baton of Anthony Ingliss who was an absolute gentleman and fun to work with. The actual performance was without doubt an absolute wow for both the audience and the choir alike and the theatre was absolutely full to the bulkheads. Being a member of one of the top male voice choirs in the country and being stage manager I appreciated the difficulties involved for the stage manager and crew ( it was bit like herding cats ). My compliments for job well done with such patience and good humour.
    Other highlights on this voyage to mention are the Mark Hodgson Trio, fabulous as always in the chart room, and groovy jazz choir I always look forward to.
    The RADA appearances were absolutely fascinating.
    I look forward to a further experience on QM2 after her refit and please, please,please sort out the sound system once and for all during her refit in the Golden Lion Pub and the Chart Room. Many thanks.

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