OUSL Activities in 2004

Wednesday 10th March - Turner in Luxembourg and its Environs

The Oxford University Society held its first event in Luxembourg following its re-launch. With remarkable speed, the OUSl has set up a structure with a very active and energetic committee and a full schedule of activities and proposed activities for 2004 and beyond. This first event, held at the Harmony Restaurant, was attended by around 40 members and their guests, who received a superb presentation from Jean-Claude Muller, himself an Oxford graduate, entitled “Turner in Luxembourg and its Environs”. It is always a delight to listen to someone who is a clear master of his or her subject and Mr Muller spoke with extraordinary learning and enthusiasm.

Among other fascinating items he described how, in December 1974, he had visited the first big Turner retrospective exhibition in London on his way back from his successful Oxford interview. To illustrate J.M.W. Turner's continental tours in the 1820s and 1830s, the organizers had included several small (14 x 19 cm) watercolours from which engravings would later be produced by the editor Heath, entitled “Turner’s picturesque tours, or The Rivers of Europe”. He immediately recognized the particularly colourful “Montée de Clausen, seen from Fetschenhof” as showing the fortifications of Luxembourg city, despite the fact that the title then was something like “Sisteron, Basses-Alpes”. Back home, he wrote to the organizers of the retrospective exhibition asking to be put in touch with the then private owner of the watercolour, who declared himself willing to sell the work to the Luxembourg Museum, provided the money he wanted went to charity. The deal was negotiated by Mr Muller and on a very snowy morning in January 1984 the painting was officially donated to the Luxembourg Museum at the Grand-Ducal palace.

The Harmony restaurant produced a splendid meal, using exclusively organic produce. And - always a sign of a successful evening - conversation bubbled from the moment we arrived until the moment we, rather unwillingly, parted. Roderick Dunnett and his fellow committee members have created a lively and determined society and if this first event is anything to go by, its members and guests can look forward to an excellent enhancement of their lives in Luxembourg.
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Sunday 28th March 2004 - Boat Race Get-Together

The Oxford and Cambridge University Societies of Luxembourg met up in the Ecosse Bar, Clausen, to witness the 150th Boat Race live on BBC television. In a spirit of friendly banter, the two societies watched the Dark Blues get beaten somewhat controversially by the Light Blues. Oxford started well, surging into a slight lead, only for Cambridge to pull back immediately. Oxford lost a length after both boats clashed on the Fulham bend and never regained the ground, despite a brave effort. The Dark Blues appealed the result following the race, but Cambridge's victory was upheld by the race umpire. Well, roll on next year and the chance to reverse the result!
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Wednesday 31st March 2004 - Guided tour of the contemporary art collection of the European Investment Bank

The OUSL, jointly with the London Business School alumni association, organised a tour of the European Investment Bank’s contemporary art collection. The tour, conducted by Lucien Kayser, art critic, adviser to institutional art collectors and former football referee, attracted some twenty-five participants. The Bank’s collection illustrates the themes of conceptual art. Many of the works in the collection explore the relations between the canvas and the frame, and seek to make the viewer aware of what is outside the frame or even behind it. M. Wagner's explanations were revelatory. Some of us began to understand the goals of this art movement, while reserving our opinions on the enduring value of this form of creative art. At the end of the tour, the Bank generously offered a reception. It was a good occasion for contact between businessmen, professionals and staff of the European institutions.
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15th May 2004 - Guest speaker dinner with Francis Carpenter and Stephan Chambers

The expression "Upstart Business Institutions" might sound like an oxymoron to some people. Nevertheless, as our two speakers revealed at the recent Oxford University Society of Luxembourg dinner, it seems an apt description for the European Investment Fund (EIF) in Luxembourg and the Said Business School (SBS) at the University of Oxford.
Francis Carpenter is in his second year of a five year mandate as Chief Executive of the EIF. The EIF is an EU institution whose main objective is to support the creation, growth and development of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). It does this through equity investments in venture capital funds that support SMEs, as well as guarantees to financial institutions that cover credits to SMEs. Mr Carpenter emphasised that the EIF is an important element of the Lisbon Strategy which set the goal for the EU “to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010”. Although only celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, the EIF has already established a portfolio of investments worth EUR 2.5 billion spread across 184 venture capital funds. Mr Carpenter concluded by saying that he hoped to disprove Adam Smith's famous comment: “I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good”.
Stephan Chambers, Head of MBA Programmes at SBS, described the School as “an 8-year-old institution thriving within an 800-year-old university”. The School has rapidly established itself as a leader in Europe, attracting 200 students from over 40 countries to the one-year MBA course. Importance is attached to entrepreneurism. MBA projects often involve collaborations with university spin-out companies. The School also hosts monthly investor-entrepreneur meetings for Oxford Investment Opportunity Network, Europe's most successful business angel network. Recently, $15 million was awarded to the School to establish the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship. Despite recent changes, Mr Chambers emphasised that “New Oxford is still something to cherish in the same way that Old Oxford has been for many centuries”.
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Saturday 11th September 2004 - Guided tour and recital at Château de Colpach

A voice and piano recital at the Château de Colpach was preceded by a guided tour of the grounds of the château and a fascinating insight into the lives and history of the inhabitants, full of significance on many levels, especially between the two World Wars. Jean-Claude Muller’s usual mixture of infectious enthusiasm and encyclopaedic knowledge of his subject combined perfectly with the stunning sculptures that grace the grounds and the artistic, political and social treasure trove that Mr Muller's talk proved the château to be. A simple meal bridged the guided tour with a recital given in the beautiful Mayrisch library, where Gide, Listz and many others would have written, read and rested. The performances of Julie Kennard and Timothy Barratt, both professional recitalists of the highest quality from the UK, left the audience utterly delighted and charmed. The recital included music by Schumann, Grainger, Walton, Mozart and the beautiful arrangement of ‘Salley Gardens’ by Ivor Gurney. The château offered a vin d’honneur to conclude a very special afternoon and evening. OUSL would particularly like to thank Lombard International Assurance for their most generous sponsorship of the event, the administration of the Château de Colpach for their hospitality and also Luxair for their help with the travel arrangements.
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Tuesday 1st December 2004 - Guided tour of the art collection of the Kredietbank Luxembourg

Mr Michael Palmer, ex-CCC Oxford, former director-general for research and development at the European Parliament and author of the leading work on Belgian art, kindly proposed to the association a tour of the art collection of the Kredietbank Luxembourg and graciously, but with scepticism as to their capacity to appreciate the works, extended the invitation to members of the association of graduates of another leading British university. He has caused the Kredietbank to invest soundly over many years and to assemble one of the greatest private collections of Belgian art. It includes works by James Ensor, René Magritte and Paul Delvaux. The collection is housed in one of the few remaining townhouses in the Boulevard Royale. Michael Palmer’s talk was witty and thorough. The occasion was a delight.
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Wednesday 8th December 2004 - OUSL Reception at the British Embassy Residence

The British Ambassador James Clark held a reception at the British Embassy residence for the Oxford University Society and around 100 guests. The vocal ensemble ‘Intermedii’ performed a number of carols which were greatly appreciated by all those in attendance.
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