Not a month goes by without something of interest happening in our community. Not only do we still have some of our clubs and groups actively participating in the cultural aspects of our heritage; we also have high profile individuals meriting recognition from high up, even the Federal Republic of Germany.
We learned of Gerry Meinzer’s decoration with the "Bundesverdienstkreuz" by German President Johannes Rau from himself at the anniversary dinner of the Hansa Club and asked him what being a recipient meant to him. It was recently handed over to him ceremoniously by the local Consul General Dr. Klaus Rupprecht.
"It is nice to be acknowledged for all the hours I have put in on behalf of the German community in Canada", he said in a telephone interview. "Being a catalyst for making things happen, moving the troops together, as it were, it is really good to have this recognized. Creating a positive image for our community has always been important to me." Receiving this honour is not only important within our community but also to the outside world, he feels.
We recall vividly his involvement locally in the Harmonie Club as President. We produced award winning Caravan shows then; (and I got first involved in the German Canadian community.)
We recall Mr. Meinzer’s involvement as the Chairman of the Canadian Multicultural Council in the creation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, when he ensured with the inclusion of a special paragraph that we all can celebrate our heritage freely in this country. As the founder of the German Canadian Congress he started enduring representation for all German Canadians. I worked with him in the Ontario Chapter; I interviewed him for television and recall vividly his involvement in other community-based projects, such as Germanica, a huge event in the Centre of the Square in Kitchener, which I had the honour to MC.
Those of us who have been around a while recall his contributions and congratulate him to this honour.
Who would have thought that someone could forget Mother’s Day, yet it did happen. When a Frühschoppen was planed in the Hansa House for the purpose of raising funds for the German School in Etobicoke no one looked closer a the calendar and realized that the agreed upon date was Mother’s Day. Traditionally one would want to spent time with, right, mother, and not go to a Frühschoppen. But why not? The hall did fill up quite nicely and everyone who was there really wanted to be there and help out. Some even brought their mother and their children to the event. Members of the club’s board, including the president Reiner Walter were of course there and helped make to make it a nice event.
The food was great, as usual; the music, provided by the incomparable Harmony Brass Band, was at its big band sound best and satisfactory amounts of founds were raised with two generously stocked raffles in-between dancing and performances by the junior Weiss-Blau Schuhplattler.
Reiner Behmer, General Manager of Benteler, a steel and tube manufacturing firm, ably organized and oversaw the entire fundraiser.
By now it must be clear to a few folks that I am particularly partial to Violin concertos when it comes to classical music. This is perhaps because my father was a gifted violin player and I was exposed to the glorious sound of this string instrument from a very early age on. I have been privileged to have listened to a few wonderful artists in my life, but never heard Itzhak Perlman play the violin. Thus I made all efforts to be able to hear him in one of the three sold out performances at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall.
I have said that there are no bad seats in the newly refurbished hall; and it holds true, but there are favourite places. To me the best seat is on the balcony where usually the choir sits when one performes with the orchestra. Sitting behind the stage, looking down at the conductor’s face, seeing all that goes on with the audience and the orchestra at this intimate distance is like being part of the performance. There simply is nothing more engaging. It is the perfect vantage point. And this is where I was located when Itzhak Perlman came onto the stage and played. This truly was a once I a lifetime experience, another one in a series of fabulous events I have witnessed. The virtuoso’s technical expertise is so absolute, that is looks incredible and ridiculously easy. The impact such perfection alone leaves on the listener is amazing, not to mention that everyone does know without a doubt that they are watching a living legend. Even if the artist had nothing left to give emotionally, such playing will communicate the composer’s intent utterly and completely.
As the concert I listened to was a matinee performance the audience was particularly interesting. School classes and people in retirement made up the bulk of it. Right behind me was a group of eight music students with their teacher from a Scarborough high school. I too benefited from the teachers remarks on the playing, conducting and interpretation of the music. Like myself he found the new Artistic Director Designate, Peter Oundjian, who conducted the orchestra, incredibly motivating. Stravinsky’s playful Suite from Pulcinella was pure delight. The Max Bruch Violin Concerto Nr. 1 in G Minor, op 26, though overplayed, even way back when in the composer’s days, came to new life with the combination of the Toronto Symphony, Oundjian and Perlman.
Mozart’s Overture to Don Giovanni, K.527, prepared us for the "Haffner" Symphony No 35 in D Major, K. #85, which was extremely charming, leaving the audience smiling an chuckling.
This was just what Toronto needed on a brilliant spring day. It let us forget our troubles, those troubles that the other media never tire to terrorize us with.
Let us stay safe with music, become revived, use it as an elixir of life.
Elizabeth Kuehn will conduct her 2nd concert with The Schwung OLS Singers , June 19, 7:30 pm. (See ads for details)
On June 23 the Goethe Institute Toronto presents The Christian von der Goltz Trio, a piano trio with routes in the sounds of Bill Evans, Hank Jones, Keith Jarret and Chick Corea. This should be a very sophisticated sound.
In any event, music uplifts and prepares us for whatever may come, even the upcoming round of elections on all levels. This will mean endless political speeches about issues that are not near and dear to us, but are easily said a lot of nothing about by you know who…
And please take note that we are conducting our 2nd annual cruise on Lake Ontario this coming August the 23. The earlier you book the more I can arrange for your entertainment pleasure!
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