A 26 minute documentary Directed by Corine Dhondee.

Executive Producer Christopher Hird.

Production Company Dartmouth Films.

In 1958 Duke Ellington met Queen Elizabeth II at a private reception to mark the bicentenary of Leeds Festival. The meeting inspired him to dedicate The Queen's Suite to her.

In 1959 one pressing was made and sent directly to Buckingham Palace. The suite, one of Ellington's most beautiful works, remained hidden from the public until after Ellington's death. In 1998 the Bob Wilber orchestra performed the Queen's Suite in Oldham.

Fifty years after Ellington wrote the suite, 27 year old Peter Edwards transcribes the suite from some scores and a record.

His dream is to perform the Queen's Suite to the Queen.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

The Queen's Suite - Background to the making of the documentary.

I saw The Tomorrow's Warriors Jazz Orchestra perform the Queen's Suite at an open rehearsal at the Southbank on the 26th September 2008. I intended to stay for an hour. When the orchestra began to play I was captivated. Kevin Robinson, the Musical Director (MD) talked to the orchestra about transforming notes.  On stage a trombone was transformed into a bull-frog, whilst the clarinet player or fire-flies were battling to be heard over a chorus of trumpets. Here is where nature and music embraced to create art.

Thinking back, I remember watching the performance and seeing visual images forming in my mind. The music was so alive. As I looked at the orchestra I saw a beautiful story unfold and I decided there and then that I wanted to make a documentary. 

How, well I had no idea, but I just knew that I wanted to. At the end of the performance, I approached the person on stage who seemed to be directing the orchestra. His name was Peter Edwards, he remembers our meeting as follows,

'Corine was intrigued and wanted to know a lot more about the Queen's Suite, Tomorrow's Warriors and the Tomorrow's Warriors Jazz Orchestra. She said she was a documentary film maker and was interested in doing something with us. 

I told her that my dissertation topic involved researching the  Queen's Suite, and I explained my connection to Tomorrow's Warriors. We exchanged contact details and I told her that she should speak with Gary Crosby and Janine Irons to find out more about the project.' That day I spoke to Janine Irons, Gary Crosby and Craig Mathewson about making a documentary and they were all as excited as me. A few weeks later I had a meeting at Dune and I was given permission to make the documentary.

2PM – 4PM                                               


Prior to their 2009 UK tour, join 
Tomorrow’s Warriors for their first 
rehearsal of Duke Ellington’s The 
Queen’s Suite. Witness first hand 
the creative processes involved in 
composing and arranging music and 
get an insight into how the musicians 
prepare to rehearse a new piece. 

No booking required

In December 2008 I had a meeting with Christopher Hird, who is a brilliant Executive Producer. I had been sending my tiny shorts to Christopher for about three years. He asked me what I was doing and I told him about The Queen's Suite. Christopher agreed to help me with the film. He would mentor me, write contracts, give me kit, but there would be no funding. 

Christopher's offer was generous. I happily took the independent route. I contacted Peter and Gary and filmed with them in December 2008. Christmas day and Boxing day I stayed at home and wrote the twenty-five page scene by scene. I sent the story to Christopher the following week.

The music, the people, and the story, had captivated me, I had kit and support, as for the rest I would find a way. It was a gift and I was going to run with it.

To find out more go onto The Queen's Suite fan page on Facebook.
The Queen's Suite fan page - here you can view the site

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