Johann Strauss Society mounts Opera Ball Oct. 25

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VIENNESE conductor Ernest Hoetzl and the Manila Symphony Orchestra at Makati Shangri-La

The Johann Strauss Society of the Philippines (JSSP)  isn’t just for classical-music lovers but also for people who would like to support the arts and charities.

Every year it raises over P1 million for charities such as the GeoChris Foundation, which works for the development of ethnic communities; and Bayanijuan, a project of relocation of homes of the urban poor.

As a support arm of the Cultural Center of the Philippines,  it has contributed to CCP’s Young Artists Scholarship and Arts for the People programs.

To thank patrons and cooperative friends, the Society will hold a cocktail musicale on Oct. 25 at the CCP Lobby.

JSSP was established in 1998 with  Letty Syquia and Kay Siazon, Japanese wife of former Foreign Affairs Secretary Domingo Siazon, who once lived in Austria, the birthplace of Strauss.

The Society aims to promote Austrian culture through its classical concerts, the Opera Ball, and the Debutante’s Ball.

For the Opera Ball, the conductor is flown in from Austria. The choreographer from Vienna comes to Manila to teach the debutantes and their escorts the Viennese dances polka, polonaise, waltz.

FORTUNE Ledesma and the officers of Johann Strauss Society

The ballroom is usually decked like the Viennese Opera Ball, and the couples dance to live classical music.

Beyond the socializing, the debutantes are brought to places, such as the Virlanie Foundation for streetchildren, for exposure.

Fortune Ledesma, JSSP chair, says the balls were forgone this year in deference to the aftermath of the natural calamities.

Among the Society’s highlights, JSSP president Olga Martel cites the celebration of the 250th anniversary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 2006 with the Salzburg Opera Ensemble, with Franz Larger as musical director.

When Giacomo Puccini’s 150th birth anniversary was celebrated in 2008, the Society brought in Ernest Hoetzl to conduct the orchestra that would accompany the Italian and Filipino singers.

DEBUTANTE’S ball where the couples learn Viennese dances

One of the most enjoyed concerts was an evening of waltzes and polkas by Johann Strauss Sr. and Johann Hoetzl Jr. conducted the Manila Symphony Orchestra, which had the audience lilting and clapping throughout the show.

Last June, the Society organized a gala concert  with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra and Hoetzl at Makati Shangri-La.  It turned out to be a good marketing tack for Lexus, the event presentor, as it brought in some business.

“Not much is known about the Johann Strauss Society of the Philippines. As a foundation, the money goes directly to the recipient.  People who have joined us want to help society and also appreciate good music,” says Ledesma.

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