If anyone thought that the celebrations surrounding Mozart’s 250th birthday have come to a halt is of course mistaken. Throughout the year there will be many more commemorative events, and not just in Vienna or Salzburg, but here in Toronto.
In our region the very active Canadian Austrian Society, with Christine Meyer at the helm as President, fulfilled its cultural mandate especially well this year with the Mozart theme at the recent annual Gala Ball February 25, 2006 in the famous Fairmont Royal York Hotel.
As every year many dignitaries and prominent community members attended. This year the ladies appeared to have chosen especially grand and cheerful ball gowns. There was more colour apparent then ever before. The once popular power black has long lost its lustre as the only good colour. It now holds true only for men who still prefer their tuxes in classic black.
There is something to be said for tradition. Starting with a reception, entering the fancily decorated ballroom, applauding one’s head table, listening to welcome speeches, enjoying a fabulous dinner, being serenaded, dancing, winning prizes, chatting with old and new friends and going home filled with new memories is certainly enough exchange for the ticket price. But having an opportunity to celebrate ones heritage in grand style adds something noteworthy to any annual gala ball, and this one pulled all the possible registers to win a "best ever" commendation.
It must be said that the Austrians have had much practise in presenting and representing their home country in a favourable cultural light. Having stayed out of world politics for a long time, due to political expediency and requirement, the Austrians perfected the art of hospitality, an art they always had full command of. Their history gives them much to be admired, especially in art related fields. Thus it is no surprise that Mozart was an adored subject to be celebrated this year.
The head table was comprised of Dr. Sigurd Pacher, who stood in for the ambassador, Dr. Karl Schmidt, Austrian Consul and Trade Commissioner, and his wife Maria, Dr. Alfred Wirth, Benefactor Wirth Institute and Austrian Canadian Council, with Allison Dyer, Dr. Alexander Lang, medical council of the consulate and wife Erika Griffin, and Christine Meyer, President of the Austrian Society, who after an introduction by MC Herbert Wolf welcomed the guests.
The tables were decorated with pretty rococo rose arrangements, which were low enough to enjoy a full view of the other people at the table.
The menu also reflected Austrian tastes, even though it was served in the most up to date way of modern cuisine: Smoked Salmon in Mustard Dill Sauce with Truffel and Porcini, Oxtail Consommé with Bone Marrow Dumplings, Fillet Mignon in Zeigelt Sauce, Chive Spaetzle and Root Vegetable, and of course Linzer Torte with fresh Raspberry Sauce.
The traditional chocolate covered orange rind was not missing with the coffee.
There was entertainment through out. Musicians strolled through the tables and serenaded the guests, and after the main course a "Tribute to Mozart" was presented to celebrate the greatest musical talent of all times, created and presented by Doug Zimmermann and concert pianist and musical director Ken Jones. Dressed in Rococo Mozart costume he lead the listeners through Mozart’s career from the age of 5 when he played for the Empress Maria Theresa. This intimate encounter with Mozart was a huge success with the audience.
After dinner another tradition warmed everyone’s heart. 15 couples, the ladies dressed in white ball gowns and the men in black tuxedos performed a Polonaise to the sounds of the Radetzky March and Vienna Waltzes. We have not seen this done in Toronto in many, many years. This touch of old world pomp and glory was most welcome and added an element of charm and festivity, which can hardly be trumped.
Of course there was a Tombola and one in six chances to win, including a grand price of Airline tickets (Austrian Airline Group) to, where else- Vienna and Salzburg, inclusive with hotel and an excursion on the Amadeus Train, sponsored by Euro World Tours. The winner was a three times lucky Helmut Mitsche. We wonder what his secret is?!
And if that was not enough, the Midnight Goulash Soup made a much loved reappearance, allowing everyone to freshen up before ending the long and festive night, making it one of the few unforgettable social events of the season.
We thank Alexander Sennecke for standing in for me and using my camera so professionally. I could not stay to enjoy this most wonderful ball, but all the notes I received and the accolades reported to me from different sources allowed me to relate to you, our readers, the ambience and success of this ball.
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