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Waltzing and dining for the symphony

If you missed going to Vienna last year to celebrate Mozart's 250th birthday, you'll have a chance to spend an evening in Austria's music capital without even leaving Oregon. The Rogue Valley Symphony will hold its second annual "A Night in Vienna" right here in Southern Oregon.

The event will take place at 5 p.m. Saturday, March 17, at the Historic Ashland Armory, 208 Oak St., Ashland. The evening will include dinner and dancing to the Rogue Valley Symphony Viennese Orchestra playing Strauss waltzes and polkas. Need to brush up on your ballroom steps? Not to worry. Cori Grimm, manager and one of the dance instructors at Evergreen Ballroom, will provide dance lessons and dance demonstrations featuring the Evergreen Ballroom dancers. A wine bin raffle and live auction for a chance to conduct the Rogue Valley Symphony during the 2007-08 season will be included in the festivities.

Symphony conductor Arthur Shaw had done a very successful "Night in Vienna" with his orchestra in Michigan before he came to Oregon. "When I first took the position here, I tried to interest people in doing such an event," Shaw recalled, "but at that time there were several balls being done as fund raisers, and I could not interest anyone in trying to do yet another." As time went by, fewer balls were being done so Shaw kept pushing his interest.

In the meantime, Grim contacted Shaw. She had heard of Shaw's interest in putting this venture together.

"I sent him an e-mail describing the San Diego Youth Symphony's ball I'd attended in college," Grimm said. "I was hoping to hold a mini version of this but figured I couldn't afford more than a quartet. Could he hook me up with some musicians? Art came back with the overwhelmingly generous offer of a 28-piece orchestra and a staff to do all the hard work. What more could I ask for!"

For Shaw, "Between the Evergreen Ballroom's desire to help put on an elegant evening with live music for dance as well as the symphony's interest in spreading more music and fun around the valley, a joint venture was natural."

Grimm pitched in to help ensure an appropriate space and time. The symphony decided to give it a try, providing much of the infrastructure for taking care of publicity, the dinner and the orchestra. And much to everyone's delight, the first "A Night in Vienna" proved to be a tremendous success. Tickets sold out quickly.

"Not only was the ball a big hit," Grimm said, "It was literally the talk of the ballroom for several months after."

As far as Grimm is concerned, the Rogue Valley Symphony Orchestra put together a ball more grand and elegant than can be found in most large cities.

And as far as Shaw is concerned, "Last year everyone who came had a ball at the ball. We expect more of the same this year."

Tickets to the fundraiser are $30 for dancing and $75 for dinner and dancing. Reservations are required. See www.rvsymphony.org or call the Symphony office at 552-6354.

A night of ballroom dancing is on tap at the Rogue Valley Symphony’s annual fundraising dinner.