Wednesday 4 December 2013

Another successful Viennese Ball of Montreal is in the books

For over 50 years, every November, the Austrian Society of Montreal holds its signature event, the Viennese Ball of Montreal, celebrating the splendor of the Viennese ball tradition during a glorious evening of lively music and dance, elegant atmosphere and a magical debutante performance. A night full of excitement, including dancing till dawn, good food and champagne, prizes to be won, great entertainment, and of course, all for great causes!  Over the years, the Ball has brought together people of many different nationalities and cultures with one common desire: to keep the Viennese Ball tradition alive.
Opening waltz on the dance floor after the call for "Alles Walzer" 
Austria’s rich and varied cultural history plays a central role in determining a theme for every Ball. This year’s theme is the wonderful, multi-faceted City of Vienna. Trendy clubs, ‘young’ galleries, modern architecture and stylish shops are as much Vienna as the State Opera, the concert halls, the large museums, the splendid buildings and the nostalgic souvenir shops. From classical music to compositions of the 20th century, from traditional Viennese tunes in wine taverns to electronic and hip hop, and with street parties until dawn, Vienna’s image truly reflects “from classic to cool”.
 The Ball took place on November 16, 2013 at the Hotel Marriott Ch√Ęteau Champlain   under the patronage, and in the presence of the guest of honour, Austrian Ambassador to Canada Arno Riedel, as well as the Austrian Consul General in Montreal Ulrike Billard. Member of the Vienna Provincial Legislature and Vienna Municipal Counsellor Elisabeth Vitouch, as well as Manuela Figar from Vienna’s Press Service which supports Viennese balls worldwide, flew over from Vienna to attend.
The Ball opened with an Austrian Champagne (“Sekt”) reception and a wine tasting event sponsored by the Austrian Trade Commission. Head Table guests entered the Ballroom to the tune of Austrian composer Michael Zehrer’s Faecher Polonaise.
Debutantes and escorts.
Opera McGill singers Chelsea Mahan soprano, and Dimitri Katotakis baritone, sang the national anthems and performed a coquettish scene from Franz Lehar’s The Merry Widow accompanied by McGill’s Rich Coburn. 17 debutantes in identical white gowns and glittering Swarovski coronets, accompanied by their white tied dancing partners , were officially presented to visiting dignitaries before performing their opening waltz to the tune of Johann Strauss Jr.’s  The Emperor’s Waltz (Kaiserwalzer) played by the new Pronto-Musica orchestra directed by Austrian Maestro Alexis Hauser, also Artistic Director of the McGill Symphony Orchestra. The group also performed Kreisler’s “Liebesleid und Liebesfreude”, and after the official call of “Alles Walzer”, had everyone twirling to Strauss’ traditional “Blue Danube” waltz. Harold Birkens' Orchestra, alternating with the Peter Freeman Band, provided music for traditional and modern ballroom dancing until 2.30 a.m.
Music by strolling musicians added a special touch to the 5-course gourmet dinner, based on Viennese classics and contemporary fusion cuisine. The Grand door Prize - two plane tickets to Vienna’s neighboring city: Prague, courtesy of Air Transat was won by first-time guest Jean Pierre Bourdeau. Bidding was active at the silent auction, open throughout the evening and the Casino was jumping all night with super prizes being drawn every few minutes. After its successful premiere last year, many dancers took part in the “Midnight Quadrille” to the music of Johann Strauss Jr.'s “Annen-Polka” under the guidance of dance instructor Carole Brown from Arthur Murray. The evening continued at the rustic Heuriger wine tavern from midnight to a record 4.30 a.m. serving Austrian Goulash soup, sausages, beer and wine and featuring lively Viennese music and songs with guests performing.

West Island gang from left to right: Michael Habrich, Zachary Marquis, Niklas Lorenz, Daphne Kullmann, Jennifer Hillebrand, Zachary Battah, Nicolas Barkun, Stefan Nettel, Jean Chammas,  with Ball Committee member Birgit Klema  Erdan (whose daughter Leyla Erdan was an usher at the Ball)
As in previous years, all proceeds from the Ball go to deserving causes related to youth initiatives. The primary beneficiary is SOS Children’s Villages, the largest orphan-focused charity in the world, founded in 1949 by an Austrian doctor to help children who lost family and home in the war. The Schulich School of Music of McGill University is also an important recipient in the form of bursaries for the study of music in Austria. The Ball also supports General Romeo Dallaire’s Child Soldier Initiative, Leave out Violence - L.O.V.E. - the leading youth violence prevention organization in Canada, and DSQ (German Language Schools of Quebec) which offer German courses for all ages. 

Ball President Harold Scheer,   President and Chief Investment Officer of Baker Gilmore & Associates Inc from NDG and Master of Ceremonies Gunter Voss from Kirkland.