Oxford goes Oktoberfest 2016

Like every year, the Oxford Alumni Society in Munich gathered in late September for its annual Oktoberfest celebrations. While it is called `Oktoberfest’, the Bavarian beer festival actually kicks off in September already, to make use of more favourable Indian Summer conditions. And the weather was welcoming indeed: With a rainy kick-off in the Oktoberfest’s first days, as soon as the Oxford Society joined the celebrations, sunny conditions prevailed.

As a special feature this year, we welcomed a couple of freshers from in and around Munich, who were about to begin their undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Oxford. This typically Bavarian send-off event was done together with the Oxford German Society, a cooperation that for sure is there to stay, especially given that the freshers showed absolutely no lack of enthusiasm, dancing and singing skills compared to the more experienced Oktoberfest-goers and Oxford alumni.

The later the evening, the livelier the mood, and very soon there were more people standing than sitting on the beer benches, chanting their favourite songs about swimming giraffes and 99 red balloons. At the end, some even made it to the fun rides, but even while sitting in the rollercoaster, one could still hear the unique Oktoberfest-singing sounds from each of the beer tents.

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A British Summer Garden Party

Reminiscent of the great Oxford days with Summer VIIIs, JCR garden parties and commemoration balls, the Oxford Society Munich decided that a proper British Garden Party was needed to cure our own nostalgia. After the Brexit hangover, we realized that we missed the unique flair of colourful ties, blazers and dresses as much as the staple ingredients like strawberries and PIMMs; the tastes and the merriment that make garden parties in England so special. Luckily Café Tambosi provided a most suitable venue in Munich’s largest quad – the Hofgarten with its cloisters and chestnut trees. It managed to recreate that feeling of tranquillity and well-kept greenery of an Oxford college in Trinity term.

The weather played its part in being very British: changing from rain showers to sunshine back to rainshowers. Marquees do not seem to be a thing here but will surely have to go on the planning list for next year’s party: supplier recommendations in Germany are very welcome. Also the Italian waiters seemed to have taken an expert course in “how to serve PIMMs and lemonade in a perfectly British manner” – and provided more than 60 guests with great service and entertainment.  Other than that the Oxford Summer Garden Party was a great success, with record sign-up numbers, fantastic food and active mingling between all age groups (and even a number of courageous Cantabrigans) – again showing the continued strength of the Oxford bond, holding strong even after many years of leaving.

The Munich Oxford Society will definitely continue to bring this flair to Bavaria, and thanks all members for their active participation in our little English bubble.

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Oxford Society visit to the NS Dokumentationszentrum

On Wednesday 25th of May, the society had a special goody on offer for history buffs and anyone with an interest in Munich’s past. Our members had the rare pleasure to participate in a guided tour through the city’s newly established Nazi Documentation Centre led by its founding director, Professor Winfried Nerdinger.

The event was quickly booked out and only a few lucky latecomers were able to snatch tickets from last minute drop-outs. The tour turned out to be extremely interesting, as the group was not only able to see the impressive exhibition itself, but also get some unique insights from Professor Nerdinger on its concept and history.

Leading through the entire documentation centre in a historical tour de force from the end of World War I through the horrors of World War II to the present day, he explained how its focus is meant to be on recounting the story of Munich’s role as capital of the Nazi movement in a sober and balanced way in contrast to more politically charged documentations of earlier decades. For him, the goal is to get across the message and let large historical photographs, short video clips, historical newspapers and letters tell their stories – accompanied by texts putting things into perspective and providing overviews and quantifications. This approach also explains the sober, minimalist architecture of the centre, which stands in stark contrast to the neo-classical Nazi buildings in its vicinity such as the former “Führerbau” (now the academy of music and theatre) or the historicist style of the former Nazi Party headquarters, the “Braunes Haus”, on the fundaments of which the current museum has been built.

Many of the group felt that they had never been so intensely aware of the dark past of the city. Especially the video projections, showing Nazi processions on locations in Munich known to all from their daily lives were able to convey an unsettling sense of reality and connection to past horrors in a city that nowadays could not be further away from all this.

In the end of the tour, Professor Nerdinger told about his yearlong struggle for the establishment of the centre as an adequate place of remembrance against widespread political reluctance to confront Munich’s brown past. Finally, he was available for a short but engaging Q&A session.

Afterwards, most of the group finished off the evening with food, drinks and stimulating conversations in a nearby restaurant.

 

 

 

 

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The Oxford Society Munich Opera Event

An exclusive concert by the young and rising stars of the Opernstudio, 3 tours behind the scenes, and 80 Oxonians and Friends of the LSE.

On Tuesday, 26 April 2016, the Oxford Society Munich invited Oxonians, LSE alumni, as well as friends and family to an exclusive evening behind the scenes of the Bavarian State Opera (Bayrische Staatsoper).

A crowd of 80 guests made the event a most enjoyable success. Three different tours took the culturally curious opera fans not only behind the curtains but beyond and even below the stage, where orchestra and prompter do their magic during the performance. One tour also took the guests to the impressive costume workshop, where they could hear all kinds of insider stories from that part of the Opera House.

After the tours and some refreshing drinks, the wonderful voices of the young artists of the Opera Studio took us on a vocal journey from Vienna (Strauß’ Fledermaus) to Sevilla (Bizet’s Carmen) via Paris (Puccini’s La Boheme) and others. The Opera Studio is a program that promotes highly talented young artists and prepares them for an international career. And talented they were indeed.

As ever, when the party ends, the merry crowd needs not to leave. Snacks and drinks were provided to round off the evening by cheerful mingling of Oxonians, Friends of the LSE, and other acquaintances and friends. We are most grateful to Barbara Jagersberger and Nils Pfeiffer for organising this perfectly run event and of course to the Bavarian State Opera for having us.

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Traditional Weißwurstfrühstück 2016

 

The Oxford Society in Munich kicked off the new year 2016 with the traditional Weißwurstfrühstück (“white sausage breakfast”). The Weißwurst is a famous Bavarian dish, served always before noon, so we convened with 60 alumni in the morning of Jan 30th, looking forward to a delicious Bavarian brunch.
The Weißwurstfrühstück took place  at the newly refurbished Donisl right in the centre of Munich at Marienplatz, with a view on to the new town hall. The Donisl is one of the oldest beer halls in Munich,  with its history going back as far as 1315. It just reopened after two years of refurbishment, and we were the first group to enjoy a Weißwurstfrühstück in its largest dining room, the “Marienplatz”. A uniquely Bavarian-Oxford style fusion setting, with long tables just like in college halls, it provided for a great feast with plenty of Weißwurst, Brezn, and wheat beer.
After three hours of eating, drinking and mingling, we finished and walked into the winter sun, looking forward to what else 2016 will bring for us.
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Christmas Dinner 2015

In the first week of December 2015, the Oxford Alumni Society Munich Branch kicked off the Christmas season with its annual Christmas Dinner. The esteemed chambers of the Kaufmanns-Casino allowed a smooth transition from a sunny Munich mood to the Oxford Christmas spirit. With crackers, crowns, and mince pie, the evening was reminiscent of the Oxfordian Christmas days, only short of Winter Cidre and the many (dubious) attempts at mulled wine.

After mingling and welcoming over 70 known and new faces, we were spoiled with delicious pumpkin soup, fancy duck, and Lebkuchen ice cream in mulled-wine sauce. Yum. The great pianist Bonny Palm accompanied parts of the dinner, adding just the right cultural twist to the event. To avoid becoming too posh, however, all guests were asked to join in singing “Rudolph the red nose reindeer,” thus disclosing a great variety of singing skills amongst the members and guests.

In his traditionally short but insightful Christmas Speech, Marco enlightened us that increasing work productivity frees up time for wine consumption – perhaps one of the reasons why two of the main drivers of the Society during the last years are now officially in charge: Annemarie Grandke and Caroline Weimann. They introduced the new Alumni Committee and gave us a first taster of the many fun events planned for 2016.

After the dinner and singing joy, the bar opened and was, in true Oxford fashion, well frequented. We happily chatted and mingled until late, and all agreed that the whole evening, which was meticulously organised by Valentina Tulechov and Nils Pfeiffer, was a great success and must happen again in the Kaufmann’s Casino in 2016.

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Oxford Goes Oktoberfest 2015

“O zapft is” – every year Munich’s Mayor opens the Oktoberfest with this
traditional cry. This is also the starting sign for 2 weeks of Bavarian
joy and craziness, with the Oxford Alumni Society right in the middle. A
great opportunity to catch up with old friends and meet new alumni.
Oxonians today ranged from those who went to Oxford in the 1970s, to
those who will yet have to start their Freshers week.

As is tradition, the Oxford Alumni Society celebrated in the
Armbrustschützenzelt (lit. crossbowmen’s tent), which boasts a 120-year
history and hosts the German crossbow championships. After a chilly
start in the afternoon with outside temperatures around 12°C, the
atmosphere inside the beer tent quickly got everyone in a livelier mood.
With the Bavarian brass band playing, people simply could not help but
jump up and danced on the benches to the German Schlager classics. And
the whole beer tent joined in…

Beer, Food and the unique Oktoberfest mood kept flowing until late in
the evening, until our tent closed at 10.30pm. The cold weather outside
reminded us that autumn was nearing, but everyone kept the memories of a
great evening to warm us from the inside.

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An Evening of Royal Song – The Queen’s Six

British flair from Windsor Castle in Munich. The Queen’s Six Concert at the Theatinerkirche last Friday was the crowning finale of the British Ensemble’s successful Germany Tour. Oxford Alumni Society Members and their guests were delighted to be there. From the front rows of a spectacularly crowded church, we could fully engage in a both captivating and sophisticated musical performance. The repertoire ranged from Renaissance polyphony to folk songs – each piece with its individual style and yet always impeccably in tune. The pieces were interspersed with announcements giving enlightening background as to the history of the Ensemble and the chosen tunes. Each Q6 member had a say – all in perfect German and perfect British humour. The audience was delighted.

The concert ended with enthusiastic applause and long queues to sign up for ordering the Ensemble’s latest album. The evening was however long not finished. It was our honour to meet the Ensemble for a drinks reception and to jointly celebrate the spectacular end to their 2015 tour. Quite a few beers were drunk that night, but we surely remember the Q6 promise to be back in 2016.

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Oxford vs. Cambridge Boat Race 2015

 

11th of April is Boat Race Day, and not just any year but the first for our Women’s Blue Boat to compete on the tideway, too. Beautiful Munich weather withstanding, almost 50 Alumni gathered to watch the race at the beautiful Café at the University, which kindly prioritized the race over German football and ensured live screening from the BBC. We were very happy to also have our friends from Cambridge with us and they took the heavy double light blue defeat with high spirits. A lot of Lycra, Blazers and College crests were on show and many members exchanged fond memories of early morning outings and bumps racing. We are very proud to see the  Women’s race now being an equal part of the annual event and look forward to many more Oxford victories. Thanks to everyone for making this such a memorable and fun day, and we are very excited for our next Oxford Munich Society event: the Alpine Excursion at the end of May.

 

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The Collection of the Christoph Heilmann Foundation

On the 14th of February 2015 we visited the exhibition of the Christoph Heilmann Foundation at Lenbachhaus. Christoph Heilmann himself gave us a tour through his exhibition, which focusses on European landscape painting from the first half of the 19th century. During this period painters were fascinated by a genuinely sensual approach to nature and a subjective understanding of art. Christoph Heilmann introduced us to this aesthetic mindset both from an intellectual and an experiencial point of view. We were fascinated by Christoph Heilmann’s very personal and stimulating insight into the collection of his foundation!

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