cabaretWhere will your heart be this Valentine’s 2014?  Well, I can tell you my heart will be happily thumping away in Cologny at the AIWC’s St Valentine’s “Cabaret” dinner gala. I just can’t wait for this event and to taste the exquisite food and be entertained by a professional troupe of entertainers.

First, I’ll hang in at the piano bar with Chris Garland, who will be serenading us with all kinds of nostalgic music from the 70s as we sip our bubbly and munch on the delicious hors d’oeuvres called “amuse bouche” in French.  Chris is the husband of one of our members, and is really known as a “Beatlemaniac”. He loves the whole ambiance of Cabaret and was a real hit at last year’s event.

I have just seen what we’ll be dining on at the 3-course menu being concocted by this exciting rather avant-garde chef, Benjamin Luzuy.  He’s a 27-year-old Genevois and a recent graduate of the Hotel School in Lausanne. He founded Gourmet Brothers, one of the most successful new and trendy catering companies to hit Geneva in the last 18 months. The delicious wines accompanying this meal will all be coming from Cologny itself, Domaine de la Vigne Blanche.

Guests mingle prior to the start of the 2013 Valentine's Cabaret at the Salle Communale, Cologny

Guests mingle prior to the start of the 2013 Valentine’s Cabaret at the Salle Communale of Cologny

And if you have heard about the Geneva Amateur Operatic Society (GAOS), you will certainly be impressed to know that Bill Heckel will be producing and directing this fabulous evening of entertainment.

Former opera singers, Alexis Munier and Sandra Rose, along with baritone Michel Bohnenblust, will be singing their hearts out under his direction and offering all us Valentine enthusiasts an entertaining repertoire of music drawn from Broadway, Hollywood and the Great American songbook. Accompanying them at the piano will be Anthony Di Giantomasso.  This pianist is in such demand that he had to be booked almost a year ago, as basically was everybody and everything else about this event.

Performers from the 2013 Valentine's Cabaret

Performers from the 2013 Valentine’s Cabaret

By the way, this is the AIWC’s kick-off fundraiser for 2014 and the monies raised will go towards our Geneva charities.  Why don’t you join me and be well entertained while at the same time giving back a bit to those less fortunate in Geneva?

  • When:   Friday night, February 14, 2014
  • Time:    18:30 Piano Bar  20:00 Sit-down Dinner   21:30 Cabaret
  • Where: Salle communal of Cologny, 17, chemin de la Mairie, 1223 Cologny
  • Parking /Bus :   Parking Mairie, ch de la Mairie    Bus : A, stop Mairie
  • Reservations:   AIWC Welcome Desk, 022.736.01.20
  • Cost:  CHF 100 pp AIWC members   CHF 120 pp non-members
  • Additional details: Tables of 6-7.  Space limited.  Please inform of any special dietary requests.

More about this year’s performers

William Heckel (Producer and Director)  Having successfully navigated the pitfalls of producing last year’s AIWC Valentine’s Cabaret, Bill is happy to be back at the Salle Communale de Cologny for this year’s edition. A former UN translator who also holds a diploma from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Bill has sung widely in Geneva and played principal roles in several GAOS productions over the past 10 years. Since September, Bill has been the conductor of the Foundation Choir of the International School of Geneva.

Alexis Munier is a lyric soprano with a music degree from the College of Fine Arts at Boston University and a Masters in Communication from the University of Leicester in the UK.  Alexis began her distinguished career in the USA with the Russian American Music Academy in California, Opera Colorado and the Boston Pops Orchestra. Alexis later expanded her career to Europe, singing prestigious oratorios in Russia, Slovenia and Italy before settling down in Lausanne, to raise a family and pursue her other career as a journalist. Alexis also performed at AIWC’s first Cabaret in 2013.

Sandra Rose is originally from New York, with degrees from Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the Conservatory of Fribourg, has furthered her illustrious singing career in Switzerland while raising a family and working professionally as a chiropractor. Studying voice under Rachel Sparer-Bersier in Fribourg since 2007, Sandra has been a soloist in both the Fribourg Opera and the Opera de Poche de Fribourg.  She has also been heard in the elite choirs throughout the Swiss RomandThis is her second participation in the AIWC’s Cabaret.

Michel Bohnenblust (baritone) was born and bred in Geneva. His first appearance at the age of 7 on the Geneva stage gave him a taste of what was to become a long career specialising in operetta and musical comedy, with more than 15 years experience with the Théâtre Musical de Genève. He has also performed with ensembles in France (Soirées Estivales de Brou, Festival Mozart de Lille) and throughout Switzerland (Ensemble de Cuivres Jurassien, Ensemble Vocal Kneusslin, Dél’hyric, S’Otto Voce). This is his first participation at AIWC’s Cabaret.

Anthony Di Giantomasso (pianist) studied piano, accompaniment and singing at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne. He studied further in New York, London and Zurich. He gives concerts as both pianist and accompanist and his career has taken him through Europe, Australia, the United States and the Middle East.  He has participated in masterclasses in major theatres around the world and has worked as a vocal coach at the operas of Melbourne, Zurich, Geneva and Fribourg. Fascinated by the human voice and its use, he is now a vocal coach and diction professor in the Music High Schools of Lausanne and Geneva, as well as the High School for Theatre in Lausanne. This is his first participation in the AIWC’s “Cabaret”.

Chris Garland  (at the piano bar) Chris is becoming a very welcome familiar face at AIWC events.  He feels at home with the Steinway grand but also appreciates the tonal range of the electric pianos he used for the AIWC’s Volunteer Services In/Out evening last September.  While holding a large repertoire of Beatles favourites, Chris has had to extend his range to include Green Day, Billy Joel and Les Miserables whilst not excluding golden jazz numbers from an earlier time. He will be happy to take requests. If anyone can sing it and he can usually busk something similar in the background. This is Chris’s second appearance at the AIWC’s Cabaret.

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