I was delighted to speak this week with Marion Glatz, co-producer with her husband Attila of “Salute to Vienna,” a New Year’s Concert that emulates Vienna’s long-standing annual tradition of the “Neujahrskonzert,” which has deep cultural significance not only to Austrians but to a worldwide audience thanks to its far-reaching broadcast. Combining music, traditional waltzes, ballroom dance, and song, the concert rings in the New Year with happiness and hope.
Marion and Attila missed the concert so much upon moving to Canada that they began producing their own version in their new home country. In the words of Andrea Warren, vice-president of Attila Glatz Concert Productions, Inc. –
Marion and Attila Glatz, co-producers and husband and wife team, both grew up in Europe: Attila in communist Hungary and Marion in Austria. The “Neujahrskonzert” — the 80-year strong tradition of new year’s concerts, recorded live in Vienna and broadcast worldwide– was something incredibly significant to them both, before they ever met each other. Attila describes it: “Listening to that uplifting music year after year—on the radio long before the television was around, we looked forward to the light it brought into our lives and the sense of freedom it provided from the hardship of those most difficult political times behind the iron curtain.”
Together, Marion and Attila brought this New Year’s tradition to North America, and this series is now performing almost simultaneously in 24 cities across North America over the week of New Year’s, featuring nine conductors, 18 European singers, 76 European dancers and more than 700 local orchestra musicians across North America this year. To date, 338 Salute to Vienna concerts have been produced in the USA and 185 in Canada. Glatz feels it’s his calling to bring this cherished tradition to new audiences: “This music is a flame of inspiration for us to carry forward and it is now a responsibility for us to ensure its protection by developing new audiences who will appreciate its beauty and importance for years to come.”
“A Salute to Vienna – New Year’s Concert” is playing at Strathmore on Sunday, December 30, 2018, at 3 p.m. For more information, click here.
What were your childhood family traditions around listening to (and watching) the Neujahrskonzert each year?
We had a very close attachment with the New Year’s Concert. Our whole family would listen to the Vienna broadcast together, first on radio and in later years on television. We would open a bottle of champagne and listen together to this wonderful music. It was such a special time, because there were big mountains in front of us, which we didn’t think we could cross, but we felt that this concert on the first day of the New Year could bring some positive changes. It was not just a concert, it was an uplifting moment in the beginning of the New Year when we felt like whatever we were worried about, the big mountains in our lives, we thought, yes, we can overcome them. Listening to these wonderful melodies by Johann Strauss has an important message as this music goes down like a glass of champagne.
Did you ever dance to the concerts as you listened?
Yes, we would dance all around the dining room table, we would do the waltzes with the dancers on TV, and for the
How did you start the process of bringing the Salute to Vienna concerts to North America?
In 1995, we had the first concert in Toronto, Canada, our new homeland we immigrated to. We missed this concert a lot and we were looking for similar events, but there was nothing on New Year’s Day, all concert halls were closed. So we said, let’s try to bring our dream to North America. Wouldn’t this be wonderful?
So, we decided to organize the first “Salute to Vienna” New Year’s Concert in a small 1000 seat venue in Toronto, but we were very nervous if indeed, the people would come. It was 2:30 in the afternoon as we thought that by then people would recover from the New Year’s Eve celebration. Well, lo and behold, the hall got sold out within 10 days.
How did the Salute to Vienna concerts spread to so many cities?
Because of this first success, we said look, people are coming to celebrate the New Year with this wonderful music, let’s try to rent the big hall in the city, the famous Roy Thomson Hall. We did that and we filled all 2812 seats with an enthusiastic audience. Encouraged by this enormous response, in the following years we added more and more concerts in several large cities, and then it mushroomed from there to many of the most prestigious concert venues in the US and Canada. This year we are producing 24 Salute to Vienna New Year’s concerts in as many cities almost simultaneously, including the Lincoln Center in New York, the Place des Arts in Montreal, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA and many others.
Where are the musicians coming from who will be playing in the concert at the Strathmore?
Well, all the soloists are coming from Europe. The conductor, the soprano and the tenor are coming from Vienna, the ballet is also from Austria and the champion ballroom dancers are from Hungary. The Strauss Symphony of America is being assembled from the best musicians in Philadelphia, including members of the Philadelphia Orchestra. This cast will perform in four cities; Philadelphia, New Brunswick NJ, Washington DC and New York City.