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January 24, 2012 > Performing arts groups honored by Lord Mayor of Westminster

Performing arts groups honored by Lord Mayor of Westminster

By Medha Raman, Photos submitted by MSJHS parents

An invitation by the Right Honorable Lord Mayor of Westminster, Catherine Longworth, was issued in November 2010 to the Mission San Jose High School (MSJHS) band, orchestra, and choir. They were asked to be a part of this year's festivities that include the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and Summer Olympics in London, England.

Accepting the invitation, MSJHS students traveled to London, performing in music festivals December 27, 2011 - January 4, 2012 that marked the beginning of this exciting year for England's capital city. Under the direction of Monica Kraft, the group performed in the New Year's Day Parade, the Gala Festival and the London International Choral Festival.

London's New Year's Day Parade is the largest New Year's Day parade in the world. This year, in celebration of its 25th anniversary, the parade included over seventy competitors - bands, floats, and performers. All choirs performing in the London International Choral Festival held up flags for countries participating in the 2012 Olympic Games. The parade was also an opportunity for one of London's thirty-two boroughs to win money for charity.

Beginning near the Ritz Hotel, the parade traveled to Piccadilly Circus, down Regent Street, then to Trafalgar Square and ended up in Parliament Square. This scenic route showed off some of London's prominent landmarks such as Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and Trafalgar Square. Along the way, London's famous rains kicked in, but that didn't dampen the spirits of our Mission San Jose school band!

The trip also included a Symphonic Band concert at Cadogan Hall, one of London's state-of-the-art music facilities. The Hall is known as the home of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of London. On December 30, the Mission San Jose High School band performed first, playing three pieces and then their competition march, "Hands Across the Sea." MSJHS's full orchestra comprised of both band and orchestra students performed next, playing four melodious pieces. On January 2, the group came back to Cadogan Hall for the fourth annual London International Choral Festival, including choirs from seven American high schools. Mission San Jose High performers had been preparing for three to four months and their dedication and hard work paid off.

Other than music related activities, MSJHS students traveled to many landmarks such as Stratford Upon Avon - the home of William Shakespeare, the Tower of London, Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and Windsor Castle.

The group stayed at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel, a newly-built five-star hotel located in the center of London with views looking out onto the Thames River, the London Eye, Big Ben, and the Houses of Parliament. The hotel was located next to Waterloo Station so students traveled by the Underground using their own "Oyster Cards" (electronic public transportation cards) to get the full London experience. They even got to eat a traditional British meal at a pub and watch a musical at Cambridge Theater. Additionally, the group had free time to travel to museums, shops, and other common attractions.

On the last night of the visit, all students were rewarded with medals and grateful words but we know that without the dedication and support of others - parents, chaperones, and teachers, especially Ms. Monica Kraft - the trip would not have been possible. This once-in-a-lifetime experience was the culmination of Ms. Kraft's meticulous planning. Thank you to all who helped make it happen!

Editor's Note: Medha Raman is a freshman at MSJHS and participated in the London trip as a member of the Marching Band.

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