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Leipzig Symphony to mark 25th anniversary of fall of Berlin wall

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Houston Mayor Annise Parker held a press conference and reception in the rotunda of Houston City Hall on Thursday June 12, joined by former Secretary of State James Baker to announce a special commemorative concert by the Leipzig Symphony to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. Nearly 100 invitees, stakeholders, and elected officials attended the reception.

Leipzig, was the scene of many of the peaceful demonstrations in the former Communist East Germany in 1979 that led to the fall of the government, and subsequently, the destruction of the Berlin Wall on November 3, 1979. At that time, George H.W. Bush was president, and James Baker was Secretary of State. Both Bush and Baker are Houstonians. Baker attended the announcement and briefly outlined the historical context. Shortly after the fall of the wall, a young student, now Dr. Stefan Roehrbeine, initiated discussions of establishng a Sister City relationship with Houston. The process reslulted in an official resolution of Houston City Council in 1992 under then Mayor Lanier.

Clemens Kroll, Acting German Consul in Houston, recalled the excitenent of the time. He was about take the difficult final exams for the foreign service as the events rapidly unfolded, leading to the re-unification of Germany, the celebrations in Berlin that accompanied the dismantling of the wall, and the beginning of a new era in world politics. He stated that his was the first class to be joined by students from the former East Germany.

Mark C. Hanson, Executive Director and CEO of the Houston Symphony, noted particularly that the incoming director is the current director of the Leipzig Gerwandhausorchester. He will be inaugurating his term as director in September, and returning Leipzig to conduct a concert in April 2015. Lindsey Kroll and Steve Braun, President-elect and past President, respectively, of the Houston-Leipzig Sister City Association, shared personal perspectives on the event and the ongoing continual relationship between the two cities.

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