What may come as a surprise to many is that I love classical music. I make it a point every night to play Franz Joseph Haydn's The 12 London Symphonies at night before I sleep.
But lately, I can't stop watching on YouTube the Vienna New Year Concert performances. I first learned of it when the Mandarin Oriental in Makati held a New Year Vienna Concert with the Manila Symphony Orchestra performing.
Below is the story I wrote about the event.
THE NEW Year Vienna Concert is easily one of the most anticipated annual events to come out of Austria. Musical pieces from the King of Waltz, Johann Strauss II, and the Strauss family have been played since 1939 in this concert that was started to provide people with hope and happiness in facing the year ahead.Such was the case when the concert began. Originally named “Special Concert”, the performance “subtly underscored Austrian nationality at a time when the country had disappeared from the world map through its annexation by Nazi-Germany” as described in the Wiener Philharmoniker website.While the concert continues to spread good cheers in Vienna and to the world through broadcast coverage by various media outlets—the Vienna New Year Concert is broadcasted around the world from the Wiener Musikverein to an estimated audience of one billion in 44 countries—the Mandarin Oriental has started a tradition of its own. “The Traditional Vienna New Year Concert” was first held at the Mandarin Oriental in 1999 and was followed by three more concerts in partnership with the Johann Strauss Society of the Philippines.“We hope to share with lovers of classical music in Manila the delighting experience that this awesome Austrian tradition has brought throughout the world. We have taken the extra effort to ensure authenticity, including recreating to an extent the Musikverein in the ballroom” says Mandarin Oriental, Manila General Manager Helmut Gaisberger, overall chair of the concert and vice-chairperson of the JSSP.The gala night last February 27 saw the Manila Symphony Orchestra play to perfection the works of Johann Strauss II, among them: the overture and March from “The Gypsy Baron”; “Pizzicato Polka”, “Thunder and Lightning Polka”, “The Voices of Spring”, “Elien A Magyar Polka” and the signature “The Blue Danube Waltz”. Josef Strauss’ “Sound of the Spheres Waltz” and Johann Strauss I’s “Radetzky March”, another signature piece in every traditional Vienna New Year concert was also played. And just like this year’s Vienna concert, Austrian conductor Dr. Ernest Hoetzl added Joseph Haydn’s “Farewell Waltz” to the repertoire, in commemoration of the composer’s 200th death anniversary this year. The “Farewell Waltz” was easily one of the more memorable performances as members of the MSO left one by one as the music progressed.Dr. Hoetzl annotated some parts of the program and highlighted some pieces with delightful nuances. He has directed various philharmonic and symphony orchestras in many parts of the world. Often called Austria’s Ambassador of Music, Dr. Hoetzl is a professor at the University of Graz and regularly works with more than 20 orchestras all over the world.Dr. Hoetzl has also conducted the MSO in the early to mid 1980s before it disbanded in 1989 due to financial difficulties. The MSO, which was founded in 1921 and is one of Asia’s oldest symphony orchestras, was resurrected in 2001. It is now composed of around 60 musicians under the direction of Prof. Arturo Molina. Many of its members represent the best crop of young musicians enrolled in various universities, are past winners in the National Music Competition for Young Artists (NAMCYA), and professional musicians who are also active in the local cultural scene.Beneficiaries of the concert are the GeoChris Foundation, a non-government organization headed by Austrian missionary priest Fr George Ziselsberger, SVD, which promotes the cultural and sustainable development of indigenous peoples in the Philippines; and the Cultural Center of the Philippines.Swiss International Airlines, Lufthansa German Airlines, Grand Asian Shipping Lines, and Lucerne are the major supporters of the concert.The Johann Strauss Society of the Philippines is headed by its President, Honorary Consul of Monaco Fortune Ledesma. Co-chairs of the concert are Olga Severino Martel,also a JSSP vice president, and Mila How, a trustee of the organization. Members of the Vienna New Year steering committee include Maria Ellis, Cristina Belton, Agnes Huibonhua, Virgie Lane, Maria Allgeier, Ditas Posadas, Chit Gohu, and Chona Lopez.
Here's a particular performance I love from this year. Just watch how animated Georges Prêtre is when he conducts! I would love to watch this live someday. ♥