Wolf Trap Ball
Virginia State Senators and Delegates,
Chairman Lee, Chair O’Gorman,
Wolf Trop President Manocha,
Members of the Board,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an immense honor and pleasure for my wife Sophie and me to be here with you tonight for this exceptional event and to serve as your Honorary host this evening.
We feel like in Paris, our home, seeing how this stage has been transformed into the Opera Garnier through an amazing transformation and we are transported across the ocean and the years to that jewel of 19th century Paris. That’s a great partnership: you brought the stage, and we brought the weather…
We are all so grateful to the hard work and dedication of the committees, staff, and volunteers who made this magic possible.
May I say a very special word of thanks to Sean O’Keefe, the head of Airbus Group in North America. Not only because Airbus is our lead sponsor tonight, but because it is Sean O’Keefe who called to ask me to partner with the Wolf Trap Ball. It took me a nanosecond to say yes. Never say no to Sean…
Since 1971, the Wolf Trap Ball has celebrated the cultural and artistic heritage of many nations. This is part of your signature.
The Embassy of France last partnered with the Wolf Trap Ball in 1992, for “Les Splendeurs de Versailles”. Tonight’s theme is a celebration of “Joie de Vivre”. This phrase immediately evokes the French outlook on life: good friends and stimulating conversation; delicious food and wine; a sense of style — and also a certain sensitivity.
Here, you recognize the traditional and well-known French modesty…
But indeed, “Joie de Vivre” also describes the joy that the performing arts bring to all of our lives.
We all know that the arts are not an optional indulgence, but are essential to a civilized existence; and they can serve as a common ground between people and nations.
That is why we consider that cultural diplomacy plays a critical role in international relations — the arts are a positive force for understanding, sharing, and change. As such, Wolf Trap Ball is a wonderful ambassador of the arts and of “joie de vivre”.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
France is very proud to partner with Wolf Trap. It means a lot to us.
Our event tonight could not come at a better time as French-American relations, and this is good news, have never been stronger than they are today.
This is true in terms of foreign and security policy: the U.S. and France are each other’s closest allies in the fight against terrorism, as illustrated by France’ military operation in Mali, with much appreciated American support, to combat Al-Qaida in North Africa.
In the same vein, our two countries are in the forefront of international efforts to stop Assad’s atrocities in Syria and to promote a political transition in this country.
In the coming days, I will welcome President Hollande and Foreign Minister Fabius in New York for the General Assembly of the United Nations, where Syria will be a major topic of our discussions.
Our economic partnership is also growing stronger every year, as innovation is our two countries’ number one, number two and number three priority.
And our collaborations in terms of arts and culture are a critical part of our friendship, based on the values that our two countries share.
In today’s testing times, these values of freedom and democracy and attachment to the arts are more important than ever. This is what our evening is also about.
With your commitment and presence tonight, you are investing not only in the mission of Wolf Trap, but also in the future of the arts in America and its place in the world.
I would like to express my warmest thanks to each and every one of you.
And now, it is my honor and my great pleasure to introduce Mr. Arvind Manocha, Wolf Trap’s new President and Chief Executive Officer, who took his position in January 2013 of this year. Prior to joining Wolf Trap, Mr. Manocha worked at the legendary Hollywood Bowl as Chief Operating Officer of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, where he was extremely successful. Mr. Manocha is an “ambassador for the arts” of the first caliber who will lead Wolf Trap to a very bright future.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Please join me in welcoming Arvind Manocha!