In this colourful performance, the 50-strong Band of the Grenadier Guards pays tribute to America’s master of the military march, John Philip Sousa. Through his music he became the exemplar of the spirit of the young, energetic, and aspiring country of America. The very titles of his marches celebrate the famous landmarks, people, and institutions of the United States. They all venerate and pay his personal homage to his country, and with the genius of the rhythms and melodies accompanying those titles, it is no wonder that he became a national institution. Hands Across the Sea is a universal favourite, its snappy rhythms and catchy tunes creating an immediate rapport with foreign audiences. What better sentiment was ever expressed in a title!
The Band of the Grenadier Guards, in Hands Across the Sea, gives what can be taken as a reciprocal gesture of friendship to listeners over all seas; the Atlantic, the Pacific, or merely across home waters. For, like Sousa’s Band, the Grenadiers have visited most parts of the world and especially America. There is a long-established tradition between the Grenadiers and Sousa’s music, the band having recorded much of it ever since the early days of the gramophone.
Here Sousa’s music is played surrounded by the splendour of one of England’s largest mansions and birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, Blenheim Palace. Archive footage features Sousa conducting his own band.