Just in time for the winding down of the German parliament’s sitting period for its annual summer break, and the German school holidays which have already started in some of the federal states or Länder, sunny weather now looks likely to stay with us for a while in Berlin.
But before we at the Embassy join any summer recess, we took the opportunity to invite some guests along to a concert by a very well-established Australian youth orchestra, the Melbourne String Ensemble. As part of a broader tour of Germany, the MSE made a stop in Berlin to present an exquisite selection of string pieces from their repertoire in the Embassy’s central courtyard. In addition to works by Vivaldi and Haydn, Australian composers Richard Meale and Sarah Hopkins featured with attractive works, including unique sounds produced by the meanwhile famed ‘whirlies’, which might make you think of winds in the outback (for those interested in further background, please see Sarah Hopkins’s website).
The young musicians, led by conductor Fintan Murphy, were given a very warm welcome and applause for their wonderful and refined playing, and they clearly enjoyed the occasion – which also resulted in a nice group picture.
The audience at our MSE concert included my New Zealand colleague, Ambassador Rodney Harris, and we thus had the opportunity to jointly reflect again on a week which had seen another major event for us – the visit to Berlin by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II. We had both attended a garden party hosted in her honour by the British Ambassador, Sir Simon McDonald, and other Australians in Berlin were involved in her visit in an even more direct way, namely Stanley Dodds and Matthew McDonald of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, playing for her at Schloss Bellevue in a special line-up formed for the occasion, the Commonwealth Quintet.
Now we are looking forward to some further busy days, with Australian Finance Minister Mathias Cormann and a business delegation visiting next week for the first joint meeting of the Australia-Germany Advisory Group. His visit and the meeting will surely keep up the momentum in our bilateral relationship beyond any summer break.