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Historic Berlin Wall concert brings a president to the Houston Symphony: The sounds of freedom

Historic Berlin Wall concert brings a president to Houston Symphony

3 Mayor Annise Park, from left, Susan Garrett Winston, Barbara Bush, George H.W. Bush, Andreas Müller, Ricarda Redeker, Wolfgang Schmidt, Mark Hanson and Bob Peiser at the Leipzig Gewandhaus reception November 2014
Mayor Annise Parker, left, Susan Garrett Winston, Barbara Bush, George H.W. Bush, Andreas Müller, Ricarda Redeker, Wolfgang Schmidt, Mark Hanson and Bob Peiser. Photo courtesy of © Jeff Fitlow Photography
George H.W. Bush joking with party at the Leipzig Gewandhaus reception November 2014
George H.W. Bush joking at the party. Photo courtesy of © Jeff Fitlow Photography
8 Riccardo Chailly, left, with George H.W. and Barbara Bush at the Leipzig Gewandhaus reception November 2014
Riccardo Chailly, left, with George H.W. and Barbara Bush. Photo courtesy of © Jeff Fitlow Photography
84 Margaret Alkek Williams and Jim Daniel at the Leipzig Gewandhaus concert and reception November 2014
Margaret Alkek Williams and Jim Daniel. Photo courtesy of © Jeff Fitlow Photography
238-137 Wolfgang Schmidt and Angelika Schmidt-Lange at the Leipzig Gewandhaus concert and reception November 2014
Wolfgang Schmidt and Angelika Schmidt-Lange. Photo courtesy of © Jeff Fitlow Photography
158 Minnette Boesel, left, and Robin Angly at the Leipzig Gewandhaus concert and reception November 2014
Minnette Boesel, left, and Robin Angly. Photo by © Anthony Rathbun
70 Bill Caudill, from left, Milton Townsend, Jackson Hicks and Randy Powers at the Leipzig Gewandhaus concert and reception November 2014
Bill Caudill, from left, Milton Townsend, Jackson Hicks and Randy Powers. Photo courtesy of © Jeff Fitlow Photography
Charles and Jacqueline Bertrand with John Turner and Jerry Fischer
Charles and Jacqueline Bertrand, left, with John Turner and Jerry Fischer. Photo courtesy of © Jeff Fitlow Photography
89 Dr. Gary L. Hollingsworth and friends at the Leipzig Gewandhaus concert and reception November 2014
Dr. Gary L. Hollingsworth and friends. Photo courtesy of © Jeff Fitlow Photography
3 Mayor Annise Park, from left, Susan Garrett Winston, Barbara Bush, George H.W. Bush, Andreas Müller, Ricarda Redeker, Wolfgang Schmidt, Mark Hanson and Bob Peiser at the Leipzig Gewandhaus reception November 2014
George H.W. Bush joking with party at the Leipzig Gewandhaus reception November 2014
8 Riccardo Chailly, left, with George H.W. and Barbara Bush at the Leipzig Gewandhaus reception November 2014
84 Margaret Alkek Williams and Jim Daniel at the Leipzig Gewandhaus concert and reception November 2014
238-137 Wolfgang Schmidt and Angelika Schmidt-Lange at the Leipzig Gewandhaus concert and reception November 2014
158 Minnette Boesel, left, and Robin Angly at the Leipzig Gewandhaus concert and reception November 2014
70 Bill Caudill, from left, Milton Townsend, Jackson Hicks and Randy Powers at the Leipzig Gewandhaus concert and reception November 2014
Charles and Jacqueline Bertrand with John Turner and Jerry Fischer
89 Dr. Gary L. Hollingsworth and friends at the Leipzig Gewandhaus concert and reception November 2014

Roaring applause and multiple standing ovations saluted the historic Houston debut of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under the direction of notable maestro Riccardo Chailly. The orchestra, one of the oldest classical ensembles in the world, kicked off an American concert tour at Jones Hall Monday to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The all-Mendelssohn playbill — a thought-provoking choice as the Romantic composer was born into a distinguished Jewish family, lived in Berlin, died in Leipzig and was a music director of this German orchestra — included the Symphony No. 5 and the gorgeous Violin Concerto, followed by two encores, the Intermezzo and Wedding March from the incidental music to A Midsummer Night's Dream.

 A fragment of the Berlin Wall served as evidence of the physicality of the mammoth barrier.

Hosted by the Houston Symphony, the musical soirée of which former President George H. W. Bush and Secretary James A. Baker III served as honorary chairs included a welcome press conference with Mayor Annise Parker, Leipzig Vice Mayor Andreas Müller, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra executive director Andreas Schultz, president of the Houston-Leipzig Sister City Association Wolfgang Schmidt and German Consul General Ricarda Redeker.

A fragment of the Berlin Wall served as evidence of the physicality of the mammoth barrier that fenced in like-minded people, separating the country by only a handful of feet.

Alongside a coterie of local and international politicos, President Bush and wife Barbara were joined by Secretary of State James Baker's wife, Susan Baker, prior to the performance. The post-concert reception honored Wolfgang Schmidt and Angelika Schmidt with the Ehrennadel der Stadt Leipzig (Honor Pin of the City of Leipzig), a decoration that lauds special merits to the City of Leipzig.

In attendance were Margaret Alkek Williams and Jim Daniel, Joanne Herring, Helen and Jim Shaffe, Minnette Boesel, Robin Angly, Dr. Gary L. Hollingsworth, Bill Caudill, Milton Townsend, Jackson Hicks, Randy Powers, Antoine Plante, Jacqueline and Charles Bertrand, John Turner and Jerry Fischer.

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