Carnival in Vienna means dancing till dawn at a prestigious ball: like the one given by the Vienna Philharmonic, which takes place at the Musikverein, the orchestra’s artistic home.
Anneleen Lenaerts is principal harp with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra: “Music, waltzes, everybody’s dressed elegantly…it’s like entering a fairytale! You are just overwhelmed by the beauty, by everything… it’s exciting!”
For the orchestra’s percussionist, Benjamin Schmidinger, this is his 14th Philharmonic Ball: “It’s Austrian culture, it’s Viennese culture for this time of the year, it’s Carnival, it’s the ball season, it’s the Viennese tradition.”
Nothing is left to chance; behind such accomplished dancing there are days of rehearsal supervised by a famous Master of Dance.
Once the debutantes and their partners make their entrance and officially open the dance, over 3,000 guests of all ages take to the floor.
It is a tradition that every year a top conductor is invited to lead the Philharmonic in the performance of a popular composition from the orchestra’s repertoire. This year Gustavo Dudamel gets the baton.
“One feels like being part of a family, because this is a family event, both for the orchestra and the Viennese ‘soul’, and one really feels part of it by being here,” he said.
In the Golden Hall Viennese waltzes and polkas boldly mixed with a more contemporary beat.
Anneleen Lenaert again: “Not being from Austria, what I admire here about the citizens of Vienna is that they are proud of what they have, what they’ve achieved, what they are because of their culture. Honestly, it’s a great experience!”
Benjamin Schmidinger, is charmed by the tradition: “It’s not only for old people… It’s a very nice and old tradition, and I think it will live much longer than me, I hope so!”