Diplomatic Beauties Illuminated in Washington
By C. Naseer Ahmad
When folks say beauty lies in the beholder’s eye, the diplomatic life in Washington that was perhaps in their minds. In March, the Cherry Blossoms had not reached their peak and May flowers were still a few weeks away. But the musical event at the Portuguese Ambassador’s residence was surely a thing of beauty.
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty.” Haven’t we also heard that? It is true that to appreciate the beauties in Washington’s diplomatic life, one must engage in more than what meets the eyes. The ambiance, the nuances and the vibes communicate the charms in surroundings of ambassadorial residences.
From the moment, Ambassador Nuno Brito began to speak, it became clear that it was going to be a delightful experience. Playfully he said that the chef will only serve dinner if the music was good. You could see the mischief in his eyes as it was a ploy to disarm the distinguished guests. Those words certainly drew some chuckles and everyone knew that it was time to feel at home in his living room.
But the music was not just good; it was outstanding and so were the promising young artists.
As Rolando Rolim, the young Brazilian pianist stroked the piano, one learned about the interesting path of his promising musical career which started with his first performance at age four. As the music sheets turned, one traveled through time from the sonatas of Ludwig van Beethoven and Johannes Brahms. When Emanuel Salvador played the violin strings, one couldn’t help notice the places he has been and also imagine the places he will go to with the exquisite delivery of the compositions Joly Braga Santos and Arvo Pärt.
When intermission arrived, Ambassador Brito made a quick visit to the kitchen reporting back the pleasure of the chef from the music in the air. There was more than hope. The aromas of shrimp paella, cod au gratin and other delectable buffet items soon to appear on the dining table were seeping through in this intimate surrounding.
A picture might say a thousand words but Morris Simon’s camera lens always captures the essence much more. One is able to learn much more about the audience, their experiences and response.
In the audience was Brazil’s Ambassador Mauro Vieira, who received the Distinguished Diplomatic Service Award from the World Affairs Council DC a day earlier.
Also in the audience was Swiss Ambassador Manuel Sager under whose leadership the Swiss Embassy plays an important role in educational, cultural and economic issues. Ambassador Sager has also spoken at American University’s Washington College of Law on “The Swiss View on the Current Role of International Organizations.” One learns that in addition to his diplomatic skills, Ambassador Sager is gifted with the ability to entertain his guests with music. Along with former Hungarian Ambassador András Simonyi, Ambassador Sager played guitar during the “Non-Obvious Diplomacy” dinner hosted at the Swiss Embassy in cooperation with PathNorth - a non-profit organization that helps business leaders bring a fresh perspective and service to both work and life.
Across town at the Austrian Embassy, the Minetti Quarter – which has been noted by Der Tagesspiegel, a Berlin-based newspaper, as a “musical sensation from Austria” delivered a mesmerizing performance to a large audience which included diplomats from several countries.
One of the beauties of musical diplomacy was to see a magnificent performance at the Russian Embassy by Russian born Adrian Duarov – a versatile cellist – and Chinese American Di Wu, who has been described by the Wall Street Journal as the “most mature and sensitive pianist.”
Andreas Pawlitschek and Magister Angelika Schweiger at the Austrian Embassy, Pavel Spitsyn, Russian Embassy Cultural Attache just like Joanna Mayer Castro at the Portuguese Embassy help facilitate such evenings and engage the audience in numerous ways.
The audience itself is a beautiful aspect of these diplomatic gatherings because it draws in people who are both curious and concerned about finding solutions to problems in modern life. A wide variety of topics are talked about between the salad and the desserts. Through the conversations, the audience educates and illuminates making such events among the list of the diplomatic beauties in Washington.