Eiffel Tower in Paris

We musicians, like everyone else, are numb with sorrow at this murder, and with rage at the senselessness of the crime. But this sorrow and rage will not inflame us to seek retribution; rather it will inflame our art. Our music will never again be quite the same. This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly, than ever before. Leonard Bernstein, November 25, 1963, in a speech given at the “Night of Stars” Memorial to President John F. Kennedy, three days after he was assassinated

Last week, on November 11, in the days leading up to the attacks in Paris, we lost a remarkably beautiful friend and colleague who happened to also be a Parisienne.  Her love, laughter, and devotion to her craft for more than three decades as a principal guide to thousands of musicians who traveled to the “City of Light” were a testament to the sort of passionate, wonderful individual she was.  Christine Vignot was most welcoming to American musicians, as she forever felt grateful to the United States for liberating her country during World War II.  So, our minds were already on Paris and our hearts were already heavy with this loss when initial news of the attacks reached our doorsteps.  Life often brings tragedy to those who least deserve it, yet we must persevere and move forward.

Music Celebrations International (MCI) joins with everyone in the concert touring public in being sensitive to recent terrorist activities in Paris and other parts of the world.

These are activities that bring familiar questions (relating to past jarring and horrendous terrorist incidents or natural disasters) to the forefront: Is it safe for me to travel? Dare I send a child, relative or loved one overseas? What are my risks? What are others doing to guarantee my safety or minimize any danger or potential harm? MCI has nearly thirty years of experience dealing with legitimate concerns relating to terrorist incidents, natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, epidemics (SARS, Ebola) volcano eruptions, floods, etc. Our approach is to deal directly and professionally with each situation to assess and then to advise clients based on experience, research, connections to our U.S. State Department, foreign governments, foreign tourist offices and our own offices in Zurich, Prague, Rome, Vienna and London.

Paris Choral Festival Performance in L’église de la Madeleine Commemorating the 70th Anniversary of D-Day – July 2014

Paris Choral Festival Performance in L’église de la Madeleine Commemorating the 70th Anniversary of D-Day – July 2014

MCI had staff in Paris during the recent terrorist shootings, assisting performing groups in EuroDisney. They never felt in danger, and were very impressed with the rapid response of local police and the measures taken for their safety and security. Our other overseas offices indicate that daily life continues as usual, but with heightened awareness and vigilance. As scary and worrisome as terrorist incidents are, in perspective (according to statistics) odds of being killed by a terrorist overseas or in the air are 1 in 2,200,000. Odds of being struck by lightning are 1 in 600,000. Odds of being killed by gunfire in the U.S. are 1 in 18,900. Lightning, gunfire, fatal car accidents have become so common that they rarely even get our attention. A terrorist incident (depending on where it takes place) on the other hand, gets multiple hours of coverage on television networks. The murder rate in Chicago will top 500 this year — yet, very few of us would avoid Chicago on the basis of fear of being shot. Foreign countries’ GNP depends largely on the success of tourism in their country. This is why foreign governments and local law enforcement go out of their way to protect tourists and to root out forces that could potentially harm this main industry on which their economy depends. Your partners at MCI will work with you directly on developing a contingency plan – whether that is to ultimately postpone or redirect to a different destination – to ensure that you have a safe and memorable concert touring experience.  In almost all cases, MCI has been successful in transferring funds towards a different year or destination with very little (if any) negative financial repercussions.  MCI’s partners and vendors abroad are staffed by sensitive professionals, who collectively work very hard to minimize any negative impact.

MCI has never sent (nor will we in the future) clients into harm’s way. Our links to the U.S. State Department keep us appraised on a daily and hourly basis of any potential danger, advisories and warnings.

MCI’s included insurance policy includes protection for cancellation due to terrorism (exact provisions are that a terrorist incident takes place in a city included in the itinerary within 30 days prior to travel; or U.S. State Department issues a travel warning) — but the availability of premium protection (at an additional cost) allows for cancellation for any reason, up to two days prior to travel. This premium protection offers a higher level of peace of mind.

Hochstein Youth Symphony Orchestra in Paris - April 2014

Hochstein Youth Symphony Orchestra in Paris – April 2014

MCI, as an IATAN (International Airlines Travel Agent Network) and ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents) member is fully accredited and bonded to the maximum level. The following financial and security measures are in place for the protection of all participants. All funds paid to Music Celebrations International are held in Trust Accounts at the Biltmore Bank of Arizona, and are used for tour-related expenses first. Excess funds are available to MCI only after completion of each concert or tour. Music Celebrations International carries $2,000,000 (Two Million) in Travel Agents= Professional Liability insurance, including errors and omissions coverage. A copy of this policy, underwritten by American Home Assurance Company is on file in our office C a copy of which will be sent to interested parties upon request. Your safety is in your and our best interest! We would NEVER jeopardize the safety of any client!

Music Celebrations works with hundreds of professional, community, school, and children’s performing ensembles who participate in international or domestic festivals or concert tours.

These performers range in size and variety from small jazz ensembles which travel with 20-25 participants to the Salt Lake Mormon Tabernacle Choir which travels with 500 participants. Over 3,000 high-caliber performing ensembles have worked with us over the years.

Illinois State University Concert Choir at the Church of Saint-Sulpice in Paris - May 2012

Illinois State University Concert Choir at the Church of Saint-Sulpice in Paris – May 2012

Music Celebrations International is an active member of the following professional organizations which require adherence to a strict code of ethics and business practices:

  • Better Business Bureau
  • American Society of Travel Agents
  • International Airlines Travel Agent Network
  • International Festivals and Events Association
  • Student & Youth Travel Association
  • Cruise Lines International Association
  • National Association for Music Education
  • Chorus America
  • American Choral Directors Association
  • American School Band Directors Association
  • National School Orchestra Association
  • League of American Orchestras

Regardless if you are a previous, current, or potential client of MCI, we welcome your contact and inquiry about safety and travel for music ensembles.  We’ll be glad to address any concerns you have, either in the comments below or by email.