Under an Austrian sky

School of Music presents annual fundraiser, A Night in Vienna at Grant Hall

Hilary Grant and Nicholas Walters sing “La ci darem la mano” from Mozart’s Don Giovanni.
Hilary Grant and Nicholas Walters sing “La ci darem la mano” from Mozart’s Don Giovanni.

There will be an abundance of ball gowns on campus this weekend.

On Friday and Saturday night the School of Music will present their annual fundraiser, A Night in Vienna. The gala will feature approximately 20 pieces from 19th -century Vienna performed by both students, faculty and alumni.

“It’s a celebration of the tradition, culture and splendor of old Vienna,” said co-ordinator Shirley Roth for A Night in Vienna. “It’s featuring Austrian music, song and dance presented by Queen’s symphony orchestra, vocal students, alumni and faculty.”

The show includes 100 student performers, including a 60-person orchestra. It’s directed by Associate Professor Gordon Craig and produced by adjunct lecturer Bruce Kelly.

The fundraiser will raise money to supplement the School of Music’s budget, helping to pay for instrument repairs and travel expenses for faculty who come from Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

Roth said she’s unsure how much the fundraiser will raise for the School of Music, but assumes it will be between $10,000 and $15,000.

“The piano we’re using for Vienna was donated and we had to tune it as soon as it became comfy cozy in the spot,” Roth said. “We had to move it on the Monday, tune it on the Tuesday afternoon, and we have to tune it again right before they play it. And that’s just money.”

The money raised will come from ticket sales, corporate sponsors and donations. There are three levels of corporate sponsors: bronze sponsors who donate a minimum of $250, gold sponsors who donate a minimum of $750 and platinum sponsors who donate a minimum of $1,000. Individual donations are also ranked at three levels: concert masters donate a minimum of $75, soloists donate a minimum of $250 and maestros donate $500.

“It’s basically to offer the students the music education that they deserve,” she said. “We use it very carefully because we know it’s such a gift.”

Last year the School of Music offered A Night on Broadway. They only perform A Night in Vienna every other year.

“We like to offer A Night in Vienna every other year because people I think would tire of it if we had it every year and then, if we miss a year, people go ‘Oh I remember we went to that two years ago, let’s go to that again,’” Roth said.

A Night in Vienna features balcony and floor seating at Grant Hall. The tables on the main level are positioned in the middle of the ballroom, with dancers performing around them.

Students in the production had optional waltz and polka dance lessons over two days from Kingston’s JoLyn Dance.

“We were surprised because we thought it would be just girls coming to the dance lessons but no the fellas were just as excited because you know many of them they might not get an opportunity like that again,” Roth said.

At Wednesday night’s run-through it felt like an episode of Dancing with the Stars as a bunch of singers attempted to dance. Some of the males clearly struggled to keep their counts. But eight professional dancers from JoLyn Dance will accompany the novices at the gala. Audience members are encouraged to join in.

The performance is based on 19th century material, but performers aren’t required to dress in period costume. Instead they have the option to dress up in ball gowns or wear black.

“The requirement for the performer is just to wear what you want,” Roth said. “If they want to wear a long, fancy, sparkly dress they just have to be aware that wardrobe malfunctions and all of that.

“They do love to get dressed because usually their performing outfits are black.”

Nicholas Walters, ArtSci ’13, will be singing a duet in the show and is planning to wear a suit, instead of renting or buying a tuxedo.

“It’s really formal,” he said. “It’s more formal than I thought it was.”

A Night in Vienna is tonight and tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. with a reception at 7 p.m. Table seating on the main floor is $55 and general balcony seating is $20.

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