Under the sign of the pea

Mayor Michael Ludwig and City Councillor for Science Veronica Kaup-Hasler presented the program for the ball on January 28, 2023 at a press conference on January 17 at the town hall.

Vienna (OTS) – “Intellectual pleasure, that’s what the Science Ball at Vienna City Hall stands for. And thus it fits perfectly into the tradition of this city as a leading European metropolis of research and innovation, as well as a city of the classic form of entertainment ball,” explained Mayor Michael Ludwig on the occasion of the program presentation. On January 28, the 8th Vienna Ball of Science will take place again after a two-year break.

“Vienna is a city of science: with 23 universities and over 120 non-university institutions, Vienna is a research metropolis. The city invests around 130 million euros annually in research funding,” affirms Vienna Mayor Michael Ludwig. “Many encouraging things are developing in this area. For example, we were able to congratulate Anton Zeilinger, a Nobel Prize winner from Vienna, in 2022. In addition, the Vienna Science, Research and Technology Fund (WWTF) celebrated its 20th anniversary at City Hall. As a private non-profit fund that supports excellent scientific projects with competitive research funding, the WWTF is an important partner in the further development of our innovation metropolis. Over the past 20 years, more than 500 projects have been funded with approximately 230 million euros. In order to continue to support excellent basic research in the best possible way, the Vienna Progress Coalition has decided to significantly increase the funding for the WWTF. The 3-year agreement, by means of which the WWTF will receive 10 million euros annually, will run until 2024.”

“Only recently, a study confirmed a pronounced skepticism of science in Austria, with around one third of respondents barely trusting science. Yet it is quite clear that the more open we as a society are to science and the greater people’s trust in evidence-based knowledge, the better we will be able to meet societal challenges in the present and the future. So it is precisely the promotion of science education that must be of concern to us. And the program of the Science Ball shows not least how fun this can be approached,” says Science City Councilor Veronica Kaup-Hasler. “An important step that we have taken with MA 7 for Culture – Science and Research Promotion is the call “From the Knowledge of the Many”: Eleven projects that promote science education in the Viennese districts with innovative strategies can be realized. The City of Vienna is providing 1.1 million euros for this purpose.”

“On Saturday, January 28, the Town Hall will be transformed for the eighth time into a large-room laboratory of witty fun. We expect about 3,200 guests from home and abroad. All the ballrooms of the City Hall on the Beletage will be used,” says ball organizer Oliver Lehmann, explaining the program in detail. “The inspiration for this year’s design of the halls and the program is genetics. The occasion is the 200th birthday of the pioneer of genetics, Gregor Mendel, who commuted between Vienna and Brno as a scientific networker and defined the basic features of the theory of heredity on the basis of the pea. Genetics is one of the key sciences related to habitat change in times of climate change.”

Ball Board of Trustees and Honorary Patronage: The rectors, managing directors and presidents of all universities, private universities and universities of applied sciences as well as of IIASA, IST Austria, ÖAW and WPI are members of the honorary committee and thus represent the central message of the ball: “Fun with decency – dance with attitude”.

Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen will be the patron of honor. The Chairman of the Honorary Presidium is Mayor Dr. Michael Ludwig, members of the Honorary Presidium are Vice Mayor Christoph Wiederkehr and City Councillor for Science Mag. Veronica Kaup-Hasler.

Ticket prices and social dimension: As in previous years, interest is remarkably high, both at home and abroad. Once again, the ball is practically sold out. The regular ticket costs 100 euros, student tickets cost 30 euros.

The central partner of the ball is again this year, with a special focus on Ukrainian students, the refugee initiative of the University Conference “MORE”, in which, in addition to all Austrian universities, the Austrian Student Union, Caritas, Diakonie and the Federation of Austrian Industry are also involved as supporters. The proceeds of the photo box and the bike simulation will fully benefit “MORE”.

Program: In addition to the ball classics such as the ceremonial opening by the Debutant:innenkomitee, the midnight quadrille and dance music ranging from swing to disco and rap to Latin and tango, the ball is characterized by charging the classical elements with scientific knowledge:

Probably the world’s largest pea: At the entrance, the guests in the arcaded courtyard will be greeted by what is probably the world’s largest pea, measuring 7 meters in diameter – a guest gift from the Mendel Museum in Brno, whose director Blanka Křížová will be a guest at the ball. The tasting of artistic snacks made of pea protein (prepared by the gastropub Planted), the design of the floral decoration with legumes by the City Garden Office and the spectacular making of the wall decoration in the ball disco with artistic pea pods and tendrils by students of the Academy of Fine Arts will round off the pea theme.

The Venus of the Science Ball: At around 30,000 years old, our oldest guest of honor knows a thing or two about the adaptability of homo sapiens to changing environmental conditions. In cooperation with the Natural History Museum, the designer Michél Mayer and the fashion and textile activist Nunu Kaller, the Venus of Willendorf (admittedly a replica) will be given a ball gown. The elegant gown in silver not only opens up a view of women’s roles since prehistoric times and the male gaze on streaming platforms, but also of body perceptions and fashion trends in the context of a traditional ball.

The bike of tomorrow: The bike simulator of the research group around Professor Florian Michahelles from TU Wien is the prototype of a so-called Eternity Bike. The aim is to make the use of a bicycle in road traffic safer for both users and other road users. At the ball there will be – for a donation – the possibility to test the simulation in virtual reality.

Midnight interlude: songs, chansons and arias will be presented by the singer Ethel Merhaut, who was recently critically acclaimed with her program in honor of Georg Kreisler and Gerhard Bronner. The second part of the midnight interlude will be rehearsed live with the audience on the spot, following the example of “Last Night of the Proms”, and performed to perfection: Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.”

Music program: Here the close and excellent cooperation with the Music and Art Private University of the City of Vienna is continued and the ball is opened with a specially composed fanfare. The ball orchestra Divertimento Viennese under the direction of Vinzenz Praxmarer, which was formed from musicians from the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, will play in the ballroom. The Ball Overture will be the “Baby Serenade” op. 24 by Erich Wolfgang Korngold – another reference to the partner city Brno, as Korngold was born in the Moravian metropolis. The Stadtsenatssitzungssaal becomes a tango bar and thus the setting for a milonga to the sounds and rhythms of Garufa. In the North Buffet, the JAM Music Lab Private University presents itself with the Latin All Star Band. The dance rhythms in the disco will be created by Tex Rubinowitz and Maik Nowotny. At 01.00 the co-curator of Popfest Wien 2023, Anna Mabo, takes to the stage.

Dancing with the Dancing Stars: The choreography of the opening by the Debutant:innenkomitee as well as the direction of the midnight quadrille will be taken over by ORF Dancing Star Thomas Kraml. For the first time, ball guests can attend the rehearsal of the midnight quadrille by dance master Florian Vana at 8:15 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. in the discotheque.

Ball ambassadors: This year, the Vienna Ball of Sciences is once again relying on people whose messages make it clear that science is not limited to laboratories or libraries, but also has its place in the public sphere. The messages can be found on the homepage www.wissenschaftsball.at .

Shqiponja Ahmetaj, computer scientist (Vienna University of Technology), winner of the Hedy Lamarr Prize of the City of Vienna in 2022.

Keya Baier, Chairwoman of the Austrian Students’ Union

Anita Eichinger, Director, and Katharina Prager, Head of the Research and Participation Department of the Vienna Library

Franz Essl, ecologist (University of Vienna), Scientist of the Year 2022

Barbara Fischer: evolutionary biologist (University of Vienna), head of the EU project on the occasion of the 200th birthday of Gregor Mendel

Peter Klimek, complexity researcher (CSH), scientist of the year 2021

Barbi Marković, German literature scholar and writer

Thomas Maurer, cabaret artist and author

Barbara Prainsack, political scientist (University of Vienna)

Michael Staudinger, meteorologist and long-time director of the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG)

Robert-Jan Smits, President of Eindhoven University of Technology (NL) and Director General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission from 2010 to 2018

Katrin Vohland, Director General of the Museum of Natural History Vienna

Queries & Contact:

Oliver Lehmann
Head of the Organizing Committee
Vienna Ball of Science

Judith Staudinger
Media Spokesperson StRin Mag.a Veronica Kaup-Hasler
Tel.: 01 4000 81169