From the French embassy to Carnegie Hall

| September 2, 2010 | 0 Comments

 

German Ambassador Georg Witschel and his wife, Sabine, hosted a July garden party for nearly 400, in support of the Ottawa Bach Choir.

German Ambassador Georg Witschel and his wife, Sabine, hosted a July garden party for nearly 400, in support of the Ottawa Bach Choir.

If the ways in which they help out the Ottawa Bach Choir are any indication, it would seem that Johann Sebastian is a favourite composer among Ottawa’s foreign diplomats.
The relationships started three years ago when board member Bill Caswell decided to approach some envoys about hosting fund-raising events. Once the Turkish embassy responded positively, and hosted a dinner, others got on board.
The Afghan embassy, for example, hosted a dinner for 15 and, later, a larger gathering with buffet dinner for 35. Last year, French Ambassador Francois Delattre and his wife, Sophie l’Helias Delattre, hosted a reception for 70 guests in the Art Deco embassy’s main reception hall.
“Sophie and I were very happy to host a choir of superb quality which contributes to Ottawa’s reputation of excellence in music,” Mr. Delattre said.
Following the success of a soirée hosted by his predecessor, German Ambassador Georg Witschel and his wife, Sabine, hosted a garden party for nearly 400 in July to raise money for the choir’s New York tour and Carnegie Hall debut. Guests, who paid $65 each, heard the choir sing and washed down authentic German cuisine with German wine.
“It is fair to say that the 2010 garden party was one of the highlights of the year for both the Ottawa Bach Choir and the German embassy,” said Peter Finger, counsellor at the embassy. “Given the very high standard of the choir’s musical performances and its ever-increasing importance as a Canadian institution of classical music featuring Bach’s oeuvre, the German embassy will continue to support and assist it in the coming years.”
In August, British High Commissioner Anthony Cary and his wife, Clare, hosted a fund-raiser at Earnscliffe, their official residence on the Ottawa River. All 90 attendees, who paid $85 each, enjoyed hors d’oeuvres while the choir performed some of its best-loved works.
Meanwhile, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (Taiwan’s proxy for a diplomatic mission in Ottawa) offered the choir a paying gig to perform at its March celebration, and the Polish embassy did the same for a concert it put on in April.
Mr. Caswell, who chairs the choir’s corporate fundraising committee, estimates that the choir raises about $30,000 annually through diplomat-related events. That’s a considerable portion of its $150,000 budget.
“The diplomats help us by providing revenue we would otherwise not have,” Mr. Caswell said. “We help them connect to the Ottawa community of business people and choir enthusiasts. And, if they like good music, we provide that, too. As well, some of them fill their own social obligations by inviting people they feel they should entertain.”
For the choir, the revenue means a great deal. “Their help means that many of the choir’s financial obligations can be relieved. In the terrible economy of 2009, the corporate income all but dried up but because of our diplomatic events increasing, we balanced our budgets.
“It also allows us to provide a novelty to our audience; they seem to really enjoy these events.”

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