A career in the armed forces is not usually the first thing that comes to a music student's mind, and particularly not to harpists - you don't find many harps in marching bands. But there are military harp jobs available, and they can be a great career option. They offer unparalled job security, a wide range of musical and other experiences, and while you are obviously contracted to fulfil a certain amount of service, military musicians are rarely unable to realise artistic projects of their own.
Marie Normant is the principal harpist with the Orchestre de la Garde républicaine. The Republican Guard is one of the most prestigious and elegant branches of the military in France. It is particularly responsible for matters of civil and state security, and diplomatic and ceremonial functions. Its orchestra dates back to 1848. It consists of 120 professional musicians, most from France's most important conservatoires in Paris and Lyon, and all of whom have had to pass a demanding audition, as for any other professional orchestra. Because of the particular roles the orchestra performs, it usually divides itself into a string orchestra and a wind orchestra. However, it also appears as a symphony orchestra, and some of its musicians also play frequently as a saxophone quintet and string quartet. As well as official functions within France and abroad, the orchestra is available for private engagements - "everyone can invite the Orchestra of the Republican Guard!", explains Marie.
Marie with Jacques and Bernadette Chirac