Christmas is for Children…
The best about his festive season are the many celebrations in anticipation of the advent of Christmas. Christkindl Markets, children’s activities, concerts and personal visits to friends all contribute to creating the spirit of the season.
Canada has such a wealth of artistic offerings that it is often difficult to choose where to go and what to do. If you are a ballet fan than you might want to go and see the Nutcracker of the National Ballet, yet if you prefer an experience so close that you can smell the grease paint on the faces of the dancers you have to pick "The Nutcracker Ballet" by Xing Dance Theatre, which is on December 27 to 30, 7:30pm on 454 College Street in the United Church Building, corner of Bathurst Street. You could also see it, for one show only, at Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts, 35 Greenfield, Saturday, December 18, also at 7:30pm. I have seen this company perform and reported to you that it was great! You can check out more about it at www.xingdancetheatre.com.
The other traditional venues are already familiar to you, like The Toronto Symphony at Roy Thomson Hall, and all the other wonderful concert venues around our town or yours.
We recently heard an entire evening devoted to Beethoven, what a treat, with Peter Oundjian conducting, and Richard Goode, piano, in the piano Concerto No. 5, the "Emperor". It was unforgettable!
Then we went for something a little different and enjoyed Sir Andrew Davies conducting Haydn’s Symphony No. 99, a light and pleasant affair, followed by Igor Stravinsky’s demanding Violin Concerto in D Major. The soloist was Kyoko Takezawa.
I have seldom seen such an animated violin performer. She was totally and completely in communication with each of the complementing musicians and instruments, not afraid to show some temperament and attitude and so alive, it was marvelous. A very long, standing ovation was her reward.
The Symphony No 5 in E-Flat Major, Op 82, by Jean Sibelius
bridged these two extremely different pieces of music marvelously.
At the Danube Swabian Club
The community abounds in such events and brings us together as a group of people that belong to one another. The Danube Swabian Club followed through with the tradition of having a special event for the kids. I could not count how many came; the hall was packed with little ones! School children of all ages participated in telling and acting out the Christmas story, as they do every year. It was heartwarming to listen to the earnest attempts of speaking German. Some of them did extremely well! And the costumes were truly divine, as we could already see when Ingrid Szauter led a bunch of them in - all dressed as angels - to sing some Christmas songs for us. Rachel Seilern accompanied them on her violin.
The Christmas Play
The exercise of singing The 12 days of Christmas is another charming custom.
12 Days of Christmas
As every year there were lots of home baked cookies just before Santa Claus came to distribute all the presents to all the good little boys and girls. As far as we could see and hear, no one was scared this year and cried. The only thing that was missing this year were the pretty decorations on tables we had been accustomed to and there also was no background Christmas music during lunch and the long wait before the actual program started.
But no matter, we had enough of that later on.
There were no children here, rather a mature audience had gotten together to do as we always do: sing the old songs, read the old poems, sometimes new ones, like the ones from Liselotte Bollmann or my own.
The Forget-Me-Nots/Szauter Family came from downstairs to sing a few Christmas carols and also to deliver a heartfelt "Happy Birthday" to our Liselotte. Here too we could munch on cookies and other Christmas goodies.
Christkindl Market Kitchener
The day before we had been to Kitchener to visit the most wonderful Christkindl Market. And again we encountered the Forget-Me-Nots, singing in the rain as it were, not just to children, but all us grown-ups that can never get enough of these sweet voices, introduced by Liesel Schade, who saw them grow up and develop, just like we did for the last 10 years.
The Canadian Austrian Society Advent
On Monday we met the Forget-Me-Nots/Szauter Family again, this time at the Advent celebration of the Canadian Austrian Society, which took place in the Delta Chelsea Inn, Toronto.
Here, too, bowls of cookies and plates of Stollen, as well as mandarins, oranges and nuts kept us going till the famous goulash soup with "Salzstangerl" was served. But before all that happened the association’s president, Christine Meyer, introduced a full contingent of Austrian diplomats: Consul and Trade Delegate Dr. Karl Schmidt and his wife, the first Austrian Consul General in Canada Fritz Istl, past Consul Jutta Szep and the Austrian Ambassador Dr. Otto Ditz, who later in the evening presented Dr.Alexander Lang with the Austrian Order of Merit in Gold for his many years in service as the appointed doctor to the consulate. This is a service that he did not just perform for the Austrian consulate, but also the German one, for Lufthansa and other German companies represented here. Perhaps that is why the German Consul General Dr. Klaus Rupprecht was present.
In the meantime we heard Peter Roseggers Christmas story read by Manfred Petz, some poetry from Gunther Kunzelmann, the fabulous voices and instrumental music of the Forget-Me-Nots, and more poetry by myself and some read by Ulli Jeschke.
There also was a Teddy, looking very Austrian indeed with his red bow, from myself to Christine Meyer in recognition of her compassionate nature. Santa came and went unobtrusively bringing a few gifts for very few children. And then finally the traditional big sing-along happened, before everyone went home happily.
So you see, Christmas is not just for children. The grown ups enjoy it equally!
One last word:
I had an interesting mail from a young man from Berlin who is studying currently at Wilfrid Laurier University and finds himself unable to complete his studies here for lack of funding. He hails from Berlin, is hard working, and loves Canada. He would need some help with the financing of his continued studies.
We passed on his data to the Kitchener Waterloo Business Association and hope to find enough donors for Falco Paetzold, so he can finish what he started.
If you can spare some funds for this purpose, please get in touch with the Business Association in KW, Dr. Herminio Schmidt, 519-895-2880, or with us at 416-652-1332.
In January we will hear from him as a writer about foreign student problems and situations.
I thank you for your attention and caring. This is the season to do the giving!
I also hope sincerely that your passage into the New Year is a pleasant one!
On behalf of the Echo Germanica family I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
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