Current affairs • Business • Lifestyle
No place like home
Financial transactions tax
An existential threat?
The language of theatre Anne Simon Director and programme coordinator
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In accordance with article 66 of the law of 08.06.2004 on the freedom of expression in the media: the company that publishes Delano is indirectly held, by a stake exceeding 25%, by Mike Koedinger, an independent editor registered in Luxembourg. Mike Koedinger is chartered with daily management. Delano™ and Maison Moderne™ are trademarks used under licence by MM Publishing S.A. © MM Publishing S.A. (Luxembourg) Cover photo Julien Becker shot Anne Simon at the TNL.
ow many food health scares and production scandals do we have to endure before we see a real revolution in dietary and shopping habits? The mislabelling of beef that contained horse meat (see page 20) has revealed to the great supermarket-shopping, carcass-gorging public the strange workings of the food production industry--like the curtain being pulled back on the so-called Wizard of Oz. Even those sceptics who guessed that the meat in ready-made meals was likely to come from cheap suppliers thousands of miles from the factory in which the end product is made may have been surprised by the supply chain trail that led across Europe from the UK, to France and Romania via Luxembourg, Cyprus and the Netherlands; never mind the unsavoury nature of some intermediaries in that chain, such as Cypriot company Draap Trading, which has links to the global arms trade according to The Guardian. Of course, in its clamour for ever cheaper and more convenient food the public did not ask questions about the provenance of the produce used to make its microwave-ready lasagnes, chicken nuggets or pork curries. But, the mislabelling of food--even if not a direct health threat--has breached a trust that customers had with supermarkets.
The solution to trusting provenance is simple. “Eat locally produced meat” is the cry from the national federation of butchers, whose president, Jean-Marie Oswald, is also head of the International Butchers’ Confederation. Oswald is proof that there is money to be made from good quality meat whose provenance is known--his butcher’s shop in Belair has been fully organic since 1999 and is packed with customers; and not just locals. And though going organic is more expensive, it needn’t affect household grocery budgets if everyone were to take the advice of a recent UN Environment Programme study in which Prof. Mark Sutton urged people to “eat meat, but less often--make it special.” That would not only lower health risks of various kinds, but is also environmentally sound advice. Going completely vegetarian is another option, though one not made easy in Luxembourg, and even less so in parts of neighbouring Germany and France. But even there help is on hand in the form of a soon-to-be-opened local outlet for Dutch innovator The Vegetarian Butcher, whose co-founders aim to “cut out the ‘middle man’--the animal--from the grain-toplate story.” Maybe the food revolution is slowly picking up pace. .
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March 2013 Exceptional living
How designers are making homes increasingly personal
There’s no place like home
54 St. Patrick’s Day Delano’s green guide
Why they came back and how life abroad changed four “returning Luxembourgers”
Birthday bash Delano turns two 6
Five fun culture spots
Year of the snake
Chinese new year’s fête 18
16 events to experience
ISL fitness plan is on track 20
Local firm still on the hook
42 Think Local Unni Holtedahl The Norwegian blogger finds her voice
Is Europe’s financial transactions tax really a bad idea? 26
Helping future generations 34
Hot tech jobs
How ICT careers are evolving 38
LSF has big plans 40
Doubling down Employee benefits
How to make the most of it
my other life John Park How the IT guy escapes to nature
Passion and curiosity: Over the past decade Luxembourg’s theatre scene has seen a dramatic increase in the number of homegrown English-language theatre productions and performances by prestigious touring companies. Delano goes backstage to find out why.
5 06/03/13 11:45
Iris Straub and Carole Miltgen
Francis Gasparotto, Sandrine Meyer and Deborah Lehnen
Sophie Kerschen and Aaron Grunwald
Everything went green Delano celebrated its second anniversary
Nicola McEvoy and Duncan Roberts
in February with an Irish-themed party at den Atelier. The Everything’s Gone Green soiree kicked-off with a private party featuring DJ Sam Steen, Guinness and Irish whiskey, and other drinks and snacks provided by Mama Loves You. Special guest international Rose of Tralee Nicola McEvoy drew tombola prizes including a basket of Irish goods courtesy of Little Britain, five pairs of free Flibco passes for travel to Frankfurt-Hahn, and a free Berlitz language course worth €700. Nicola and this year’s Luxembourg Rose candidates presented a cheque for €1,000 for Kriibskrank Kanner, which supports children with cancer and their families. Then the doors of den Atelier were opened for a free public concert by indie-folk group The Shanes. DR & AG
Photographed by Jessica Theis/jess.lu
Chiara Caprioli, holding the February edition of Delano
Kate O’Connell and Hilary Fitzgibbon
Carlo Schneider and Mario Hirsch
Aishling O’Leary and Pedro Crespo
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Yvonne O’Reilly and Joe Huggard
The Luxembourg Roses presented a cheque for €1,000 for Kriibskrank Kanner
Duncan Roberts and Diarmuid O’Leary, Ireland’s ambassador to the Grand Duchy
Luciana Restivo and Artur Sosna
This year’s Roses are (from left) Lisa Crotty, Julie Smith, Laura Droog and Caoimhe Adams, who is not pictured
DJ Sam Steen
Geraldine Cassels and Niamh Huggard
The Shanes on stage at den Atelier
Emilie Oswald and Julien Lion
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CURRENT AFFAIRS Julien Becker (archives)
Olivier Minaire (archives)
Suicide rates stable
2030.lu--future reflections March 4 saw the official launch of a new initiative to encourage public debate about the future of Luxembourg. “2030.lu – Ambition pour le future” is, says its founders, an “open and participative platform”--something that differentiates the initiative from 5vir12, which is more like a think tank of business leaders. “2030.lu – Ambition pour le future has the ambition to challenge public authorities as well as all citizens in a non-partisan debate,” the group proclaims. It wants to involve both sexes, young and old, Luxembourgers and non-nationals, residents and commuters, employers and employees, decision makers
from business and civil society and representatives from charities and non-profit associations. Its first public event is at the forum of the Geesseknäppchen school campus on March 20, when guests including University rector Rolf Tarrach (photo), NGO representative Nathalie Oberweis and architect Nico Steinmetz will present the challenges they personally consider to be crucial for the future of Luxembourg. Further events are planned for April, May and June. The group plans to publish the results of these debates and its idea gathering in the autumn. www.2030.lu
Some 81 people committed suicide in the Grand Duchy in 2011, the latest year for which statistics are available. The figure in real terms has remained stable for several years, despite a growing population, and, at between one and three percent of the population, is under the European average. A total of 863 suicides were registered between 2000 and 2011, with around 68 percent--584 deaths--in the socalled “active” population of 18-65 year olds. The latest Journée Nationale de Prévention du Suicide conference in February focused on working population and called for employers to take suicide prevention more seriously by training health and safety personnel accordingly. However, reports suggest that those over the age of 75 are most at risk, and are two or three times more likely to die by suicide than those in the 20-24 age group, for instance.
Schleck out of TDF
Hollerich praises pope
New tourist chief
Grand Duke on FB?
Fränk Schleck will miss this year’s Tour de France after the Agence luxembourgeoise antidopage handed down a one-year ban following a failed dope test during last year’s race, even though the agency admitted he may have taken the drug unwittingly.
Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich praised Pope Benedict XVI in a sermon at Notre-Dame cathedral. Hollerich described Joseph Ratzinger as “a great man, who wanted to be a servant” who had now acknowledged the burden of service and age.
Tom Bellion, a former director of the Fondation Kräizbierg, has been announced as the successor to Roland Pinnel as the head of the Luxembourg City Tourist Office. Pinnel has served in the post since 1974 and officially retires on April 15.
Mystery surrounds the authenticity of a Facebook page of a certain GrandDuc Henri de Nassau that was created on March 2. The royal household already has an official Facebook page and so far has not commented on the new entry.
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New legal status for au pairs
Parliament has passed an amendment to the law governing the hiring of au pairs. The law, passed almost unanimously in the Chamber of deputies on February 8, provides stricter rules for families who want to hire residential help. Under the new law, au pairs must be between 18 and 30 years old and the family must consist of at least one child under the age of 13. In addition, children under the age of six must be in some sort of day care facility. The au pair contract cannot last more than one year, and the au pair must be given at least three free evenings per week, in addition to a whole day off per week and two more days off per month. The host family must provide single room lodging and food for the au pair, and should also pay for language lessons and allow them time for “cultural improvement”. The agreement also foresees pocket money for the au pair that should amount to at least a quarter of the minimum wage. Full details of the law and how to apply for an approval and draft a placement agreement for an au pair can be found on the Service National de la Jeunesse’s dedicated website. www.accueil-aupair.lu
Juncker supports investigation into Jewish deportations
"This is a catastrophe for Europe"
Plans to revamp the Josy Barthel national football stadium will do away with the running track that circles the football pitch, says sports minister Romain Schneider. The stadium has long needed a make-over to comply with UEFA regulations and initially the government had hoped to build an entirely new stadium at a greenfield site at Livange, in the commune of Roeser. But those plans were abandoned after strong opposition and controversy. That the Josy Barthel stadium should lose its running track is ironic, given that it is named after Luxembourg’s sole Olympic summer games gold medal winner, who was victorious in the 1,500 metres in Helsinki in 1952. The renovation is part of a €100 million investment in sports facilities over the next five years.
David Laurent/Wili (archives)
Prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker has thrown his weight behind an investigation into the role played by the Luxembourg administrative commission in the deportation of Jews from the Grand Duchy during the Nazi occupation in WWII. The five-man administrative commission was established by the government on the eve of the Nazi invasion of Luxembourg in May 1940 and was charged with defending Luxembourg interests during the occupation. Juncker has said that there is a lack of historical clarity about the period--the commission was disbanded on December 23, 1940. Its president, formerly the general secretary of the government, was removed from his post in October 1940 and deported to Germany himself. But the commission had tried to influence the Nazi leadership in Luxembourg and when ordered to identify Jewish schoolchildren, passed on the order to the communes. Juncker says he thinks it is “advisable and necessary” to conduct more thorough research.
No track at new stadium
Foreign minister Jean Asselborn’s verdict on the Italian election results
France Football reports that some of the alleged bribes paid by the Qatari FA to an Argentinean FIFA member for his support of its successful 2022 World Cup bid may have been deposited in a Luxembourg bank.
Train journey times to Strasbourg from Luxembourg will be cut to 85 minutes from the current 130 minutes when the TGV Est line opens in 2016. The €2.1 billion project has received support from the European Investment Bank.
Three Facebook users who made racist comments on the social media site were given suspended prison sentences of six months in February. They made comments about asylum seekers being given housing in Kehlen.
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Ambassador Zeng Xianqi
Jin Shuzhi and Jeff Britton
Bruno Theret and Nico Bley
The European Hong Kong
Isabelle From and Siegfried Verstappen
Pierre Gramegna welcomed the year of the snake
The Grand Duchy welcomed the year of the snake during a reception hosted by the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce and the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office. Chamber chief Pierre Gramegna believes that Chinese financial institutions “have found the spot” for their EU hubs. The two financial centres “have a lot in common” reckons Linda Lai, head of the trade office in Brussels, who borrowed finance minister Luc Frieden’s quip that “Luxembourg is the European Hong Kong and Hong Kong is the Asian Luxembourg.” The fact that Crown Prince Guillaume and Princess Stéphanie’s first official overseas visit as a couple was to China did not go unnoticed by Beijing, comments Zeng Xianqi, ambassador of the People’s Republic to the Grand Duchy. AG Photographed by Jessica Theis/jess.lu
More than 220 guests attended the seventh annual Chinese New Year reception, the largest draw in the event’s history Linda Lai
From left: Ernst Wilhelm Contzen, Gary Kneip, Nathalie PfeifferKneip, Raymond Munhowen and Marcel Wengler
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Thereâ€™s no place like home Luxembourg natives tend not to move much, admits Carine Feipel who has just returned after five years in New York City. Yet more and more Luxembourgers are seeking experience abroad, looking to gain a fresh insight into their field of work and expand their horizons. We speak to four locals who have returned to the Grand Duchy following a stint abroad with a new outlook on life and how to live it. Text by Duncan Roberts and Aaron Grunwald Photography by Luc Deflorenne
â€„ march 2013
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Carine Feipel: could live anywhere
“We knew we would be getting an experience, which we hoped would be enriching and which definitely was.”
Call it serendipity or just happy circumstance, but fortune was smiling on Carine Feipel, partner at Arendt & Medernach, when she was offered the chance to head up her company’s New York office. “I was at a stage in my career when I was ready for a new challenge. And at the same time my husband [François Knaff] had an opportunity to be the consul general of Luxembourg to New York. It took us an evening to take the decision,” she says with smile. Knowing the move was not going to be permanent--the couple had an idea it would be between three and six years--probably made it easier, says Feipel. “We knew we would be getting an experience, which we hoped would be
enriching and which definitely was.” She also says that settling in as a temporary resident meant that they took advantage of all the positives New York had to offer and not really caring about the negatives. “You don’t really identify with the bad things about the city because you know you are not going to be there that long.” Despite the temporary nature of the move, Feipel says she and Knaff did end up making some friendships that have lasted. That may be because Americans are also used to moving easily, often from coast to coast, and the world in general, says Feipel, is constantly moving. “So people often find themselves in an environment where others come and go. Luxembourg might be an exception, at least concerning the natives because they tend not to move that much.” Feipel had previously visited New York, and her parents had lived in Arkansas, so she thought she knew the city and the States quite well. Nevertheless, she did not know what exactly to expect when living there. “You need to get organised, buy groceries, find a place where your kids [she has two sons] can play soccer and so forth.” New York may have proved to be an easy city to negotiate and live in, but coming back to Luxembourg made Feipel realise just how much better the quality of life is in the Grand Duchy. Doing business was, as expected, much more informal in New York than in Luxembourg, Feipel says. “It is also very direct. Americans are very result-oriented. I like that, being a very direct person myself, but it needs to be your style otherwise you can end up being offended.” Time is also of an essence; meetings are always to the point and don’t need to last two hours to be deemed successful. But Feipel also explodes the myth that New Yorkers work all hours. “It’s just not the case. People like to be at the office early, but they also like to leave early. And a lot of people like to work from home, especially on a Friday or Monday during the summer at their summer houses in the Hamptons. People manage to achieve a good work-life balance, but still maintain the reputation that they work like crazy.” It is a buzzing city and its compact size creates the impression that it is the city that never sleeps. She misses the unlimited offer of culture, restaurants, shopping. Feipel still goes back to work occasionally at the New York office, where Arendt & Medernach practices Luxembourg law for clients
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from the US and Canada with interests in the Grand Duchy. Indeed, she has been back four times in the six months since she returned to Luxembourg. She is vice-president of the American Foreign Law Association and cochair of the International Financial Products and Services Committee and of the Section of International Law within the American Bar Association. “This allows me to meet people in a similar situation, but also to meet Americans with international interests and to tell them why they should be doing business in Luxembourg, be it for investment funds or other business.” Luckily, she says, in New York they knew that Luxembourg is an independent country and they always smiled when Feipel told them it was the size of Rhode Island with a population of half a million. “I really think those five years taught me a lot, professionally and privately, and probably changed me, too. I learned to compare and appreciate different approaches to things, depending on where you are, without judging whether one is better or worse. I have certainly realised that tomorrow I could live anywhere, I just have the confidence to do that if I had to.” Carine Feipel
Lived in New York from 2007-2012
“I was surprised how Luxembourg had transformed itself into a really cosmopolitan society.” 14
Philippe Lamesch: excited by biotech hub Norbert Becker: conscious of brain drain
When his contract came to an end, “compared to what was offered to me in the States, I thought that Luxembourg gave me the better offer,” says Philippe Lamesch, science communications advisor at the Luxembourg Center for Systems Biomedicine, which is part of the University of Luxembourg. The Esch-Alzette native--who returned last April--moved to the US in 2001, earning a PhD from Harvard Medical School. He then worked as a curator for the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford University. After a year or so in California, Lamesch also started working as a consultant for Luxembourg’s consulate general in San Francisco, helping to promote the government’s biotechnology initiative. In fact, the burgeoning biotech hub is one of the reasons he moved back. “I got really excited when I saw what Luxembourg was starting to build up.” While his time in the US helped give him “a larger view of how science and research impacts the whole community” Lamesch reckons “a lot of scientists in Europe, in Luxembourg, are confused about why you need somebody who does science communication. ‘Why not just do science?’ ” “What I loved in the States is that if you’re a little bit of an overachiever, it’s really easy to implement that.” For example, Lamesch misses being able to go grocery shopping at midnight. In Luxembourg, if you work late during the week, “you’ll be starving on a Sunday”.
After nearly a decade abroad “I was surprised how Luxembourg had transformed itself into a really cosmopolitan society,” says Norbert Becker, a founding partner at consulting firm Atoz, who returned to the Grand Duchy in 2004. After heading up Arthur Andersen’s Luxembourg office, he moved to the London as the firm’s regional head of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, before becoming its worldwide administrative head in New York, and then global CFO for Ernst & Young. Becker was “a very small fish thrown in a very big pond”, as he puts it. Living overseas “was quite difficult from a personal point of view” as his family had remained in the Grand Duchy. “I really wanted to do something as an entrepreneur, so I decided with all my international experience, maybe the easiest place to do that would be back in Luxembourg.” Although he admits bringing back a “CrackBerry” addiction from the US, Becker credits his international experience for forcing him to work out of his “comfort zone”. Ultimately “that opens your mind to the one fundamental that there isn’t one solution; there isn’t one size fits all.” While he highly recommends young people get global work experience, Becker also says Philippe Lamesch that “as a Luxembourger, I’m conscious that Lived in Boston and Silicon Valley from 2001-2012 we might have a brain-drain. Because once you are in that sort of environment, coming back to Luxembourg would very difficult.” Norbert Becker
Lived in London and New York from 1996-2004
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“I got a chance to work without any questions asked. I wouldn’t have learned what I learned. That is a key difference.” Georges Zigrand: seized his chance Designer Georges Zigrand, who heads up his own business, Integrated Place, and has a design blog, had already tried living in various places before he moved to London. After graduating from university in Strasbourg, Zigrand worked in Frankfurt and Brussels for a year or so, not really earning money but gaining the vital experience required to make him employable. But when he found a job organising and running workshops at the Vitra Design Museum in Charente, France he met his future wife, Sarah. “By default, I moved to London through a combination of not knowing where to go to find work, and following Sarah.” Zigrand found work pretty quickly in the British capital, but was jobbing on what was a minimum wage for a couple of years. “Those were key years, because I learned how to get by with very little means, how to be smart about money. It involved a lot of walking and not many Tube journeys.” Zigrand’s English was what he calls “average for a Luxembourger” when he first landed in London, “I understood most things, but couldn’t speak it very well. And what I struggled with for a very long time is the speed of reaction, especially humour wise. It was a few years of not being able to completely keep up with discussions and jokes. My wife says I still don’t get it, but then she’s from Hartlepool…” One difference Zigrand noticed during his attempts to find work in London was that in the UK experience and ability counted more for employers than formal qualifications and diplomas. “Nobody ever asked if I had a diploma. They test you and if you are good you get the job. I’m not saying it’s bad to have a diploma, in many jobs it is important and necessary, but for creative jobs?” So he thinks that if he hadn’t gone to the UK, he would not have been in the position he is in today. “I got a chance to work without any questions asked.
I wouldn’t have learned what I learned. That is a key difference.” Indeed, when he did return to Luxembourg, people showed an interest in what he had been doing in London and gave him opportunities to try out small projects. “It took me three years to adjust to Luxembourg again,” he says. Zigrand had kept in close touch with his friends in Luxembourg during his London sojourn. But he also admits that he was very self-absorbed in the city and that his friends back home had moved on in other ways--starting families, buying houses. “All those things that were delayed for me because I was too busy. I almost missed the boat in that sense, which is a London, or big city, specific problem. It was one of the reasons we came back in the end. Whatever was right in going to London at the age of 25 was no longer right at the age of 38.” Indeed, he says that social life in London was much less involved, more superficial perhaps, than in Luxembourg. Here he can go for a drink after work in a local bar like the Bouneweger Stuff and know he will meet someone he knows, or he can spend a whole day walking with friends. That just didn’t happen in London. It is clear that Zigrand did enjoy the specifically British way of working, however. He explains that the British have a very different approach to design than the Germans or French. “In Britain the lack of a well-established design tradition makes them more open to take on things from everywhere. You can pick and mix what’s right. It is the right mix between the cultural and functional aspects. In France aesthetics are much more important; in Germany it is slightly more pragmatic.” Now that the couple has an infant child, Georges is not sure whether an imminent move is on the cards, though he would one day like to return to the UK, although not to London. “A big house by the sea with a dog; that would be ideal.” Georges Zigrand
Lived in London from 1999-2006
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Michael and Felicitas Riedl
From left: Michael DeLuca, Beth DeLuca, Tim O’Leary, Ann Van Nimmen, Tracy O’Leary and Eric Wroldsen
From left: Robert Deed, Freda Deed and Chris Bowman
ISL gets fiscally fit The International School of Luxembourg’s second annual gala raised approximately €23,000 to improve fitness facilities on campus. Live auction offerings were “things you can’t just walk into the store and buy,” says the school’s Margo Parra. “Jogging with Mayor [Xavier] Bettel; that went for quite a pretty penny.” Other hot items included a Zumba fitness party and a Tour de Luxembourg VIP package donated by Asport. The ISL will use proceeds to construct a fitness trail on the campus, to be named after former athletic director S.K. Kasinathan, “an iconic figure at the school.” Coach Kasinathan remained active in school life until suffering a stroke in 2011, which left him paralysed. He hopes to attend the ribbon-cutting. AG Erica Bastian and Nicki Crush
Photographed by Charles Caratini
Mark Gem-Lear and Nicky Hale
Elisabetta Profetti and Cristina Cendola
Arnita Hallerstrom, Nils Hallerstrom and Jennifer Wroldsen
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French firm suspected of re-labelling meat A company in southern France is being fingered in the Findus horsemeat scandal, but a Greater Region firm involved remains under investigation. Text by Aaron Grunwald Photography by Steve Eastwood
Roughly 34,100 tonnes of meat were sold in Luxembourg in 2011, according to estimates by Euromonitor. Less than 20% of total volume was beef, with pork and poultry each representing more than a third. In recent years Western European fresh meat sales have been flat, while “chilled processed” have grown 2% annually, the consulting firm says. While Euromonitor does not expect processed meat sales to collapse, analyst Simone Baroke reckons “high street butchers and fresh meat counters in supermarkets will be drawing much longer lines than usual.”
panghero has been named by the French government as the likely culprit in the “horsemeat scandal” which involves Comigel in Metz and its subsidiary Tavola in Luxembourg selling ready-made lasagnes containing horsemeat, that was labelled “100% beef”, to Findus in the UK and Ireland. The mis-labelled meat has also been detected in Ikea meatballs and other dishes in at least 15 more countries across Europe. More than 4.5 million food products, representing more than a thousand tonnes, are involved in the case, according to Benoît Hamon, the French consumer affairs minister.
Tavola Handled mis-labelled meat
Comigel produces packaged meals for companies across Europe, many of which are prepared at its Tavola unit in Capellen. The Luxembourg and French governments say the company voluntarily recalled the products in February, after the British and Irish food safety agencies detected horse DNA in some of the firm’s meals. Comigel ordered beef from Spanghero, based in Castelnaudary, about 60 kilometres southeast of Toulouse. Spanghero then procured the meat through a Dutch subcontractor, which used its Cyprus subsidiary to order horse meat from Romanian slaughterhouses. The Tavola plant in Capellen received more than 500 tonnes of meat through this supply chain, Hamon says. He reports that French consumer safety agency DGCCRF discovered multiple cases of “non-conforming” labelling or “re-labelling” of the meat, adding that the “companies involved in this case must provide an explanation of these findings of fraud.” Investigators found invoices at Spanghero’s offices that clearly indicate horsemeat was sold, the minister says. The case is being referred to the French public prosecutor’s office, although the DGCCRF will continue checking Spanghero’s other customers and other firms that purchased meat via the Dutch meat broker.
The agency says that it conducted more than 4,000 DNA tests between February 15 and 26, although its labs are still analysing the results. “Spanghero formally contests having ordered horsemeat,” the company said in a statement issued on February 14. “Spanghero formally contests having knowingly resold horsemeat.” The firm says it had ordered, received and resold meat that it thought was beef, and would fully cooperate with all the investigations. Nevertheless Spanghero’s operating license has been restricted by France’s agriculture ministry. Comigel is not totally in the clear. The group may be liable for not having detected that the meat was mis-labelled. On February 13, the company’s CEO, Erick Lehagre, told Delano that he did not want to comment on the case before the French government issued its report the next day. However he did not respond to Delano’s subsequent requests for comment. “Much of the blame for the horsemeat scandal has been laid at the door of retailers looking for cheaper supplies in order to maintain low price levels,” Antonia Branston, an analyst with consulting firm Euromonitor, writes in a report. “Clearly, a more local, better quality and fully tested supply chain will result in more expensive beef.”.
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06/03/13 15:07 06/03/13 14:46
Claude Sauber, jury president Fred Boucher and Griet Byl
“Sensibilisation Alzheimer” by IP(!)PRODUCTIONS for the Luxembourg Alzheimer Association won TV/cinema gold & people’s choice, one of seven not-for-profit wins
“Horse stalls” by Comed for Cargolux won bronze in the B2B press category, one of the agency’s four awards
Luxembourg’s communications world descended on the Rockhal last month for the Media Awards 2013. The awards honour the best Luxembourgproduced advertisements, with finalists in five categories selected by a jury and then voted on by the general public. Public service announcements dominated the ceremony. Awareness campaigns by government bodies and NGOs swept all three TV/cinema prizes, took two of the press prizes, and one each in the internet and radio categories. Among agencies, Comed garnered four honours, while Dechmann Communication and IP(!)PRODUCTIONS both received three prizes. The ceremony also included an emotional homage to Claude Moes and Tom Gloesener, two of the industry’s major figures who died last year. AG
Alain Iérace, Daniel Dechmann and Luc Bolsius
More than 800 attended the soirée
Photographed by Luc Deflorenne and Olivier Minaire
Fred Neuen, Ariane Petit and Patrick Wilwert
Donato Rotunno and Françoise Lentz
Nathalie Nunes and Marc Haas
The Media Awards 2013 was hosted by RTL’s Nathalie Reuter and paperJam’s Jean-Michel Gaudron
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www.bram.lu 05/03/13 17:45 13.02.13 16:27
business More clouds coming to Luxembourg
David Laurent/Wili (archives)
The trade association Eurocloud will relocate its Europe-wide h eadquarters from Paris to Luxembourg. Eurocloud Europe is the umbrella organisation for 28 national trade groups that represent the cloud computing industry. Amal Choury, CEO of e-Kenz, was elected as one of six vice-presidents of the Eurocloud Europe group. Luxembourg will also host European cloud industry’s annual convention this autumn. EuroCloud Congress 2013 takes place October 15-16.
Hacking took place in “late 2011”
Jobless claims inch up
In our February edition, we inadvertently said a photo of Marc Weitzel (seen on the left in this photo) was that of Jean-Marc Goy (on the right). Both gentlemen work at Luxembourg regulator Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier. Sorry.
Luxembourg placed 16th in Bloomberg’s Global Innovation Index, between 17th ranked Canada and 15th placed Belgium. The financial news and data firm “examined more than 200 countries and sovereign regions to determine their innovation quotient”.
Luxembourg’s unemployment rate was 5.3% in January 2013, reports Eurostat. While that is the third lowest rate in the EU, unemployment has been rising: it was 5.2% in December, 5.1% in November, 5.0% in October and 4.9% in January 2012.
Andrés Lejona (archives)
sional nor in accordance with facts.” The Computer Incident Response Center Luxembourg “reviewed the appendix of the report from Mandiant and we indeed saw a matching incident happening in late 2011,” explains Alexandre Dulaunoy. “The incident was handled and resolved like any other security incident.” He is not naming the organisation that was subject to the assault nor what information was accessed, and neither is Mandiant. The identity of the victim and the damage caused may never be known as there is no legal obligation to disclose such attacks. “In 2012, we handled around 10,000 incidents” across the public and private sectors, Dulaunoy reports.
Economic sentiment slowly rising David Laurent/Wili (archives)
The IT attack that an American computer security firm says was conducted by the Chinese army against a Grand Duchy organisation is likely to have taken place a year and half ago, Luxembourg’s cybersecurity entity tells Delano. US electronic security company Mandiant alleges that an unnamed organisation in Luxembourg was among 141 victims of a “cyber espionage unit” named “APT1” which Mandiant claims is affiliated with the Chinese military and operated for more than seven years. China’s government strenuously denies the allegations, telling the Washington Post that “the accusation that the Chinese military engaged in cyberattacks is neither profes-
Luxembourg remains less optimistic about the economy than all of its Greater Region neighbours, according to the February edition of the European Commission’s monthly survey of business and consumer confidence. The Grand Duchy’s Economic Sentiment Indicator gained 0.5 points from January to 80.0, although the figure has remained below 90 since last April. The long-term average is 100. Sentiment rose 3.6 points in Belgium to 94.0, 1.3 points to 90.1 in France, and 2.5 points to 102.0 in Germany.
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Fewer 747-8s, more flights
“2012 was a highly successful year for SES”
François Roche/Creative Commons
CEO Romain Bausch
Cargolux will push out the delivery schedule of its 747-8 orders with Boeing and will not exercise its option for two additional jets. “We expect to take delivery of two to three aircraft this year, out of seven deliveries remaining”, says a Cargolux spokeswoman. “We already have six 747-8Fs in the fleet.” The move is part of a strategic makeover, which aims to stem deep losses at the carrier and mark a “return to profitability in 2014”. Despite plans for a smaller fleet, the airline continues to expand its reach. In February Cargolux launched new services to China, Latin America and the UK, and announced new flights to oil and gas hub Port Harcourt, Nigeria, would begin this month.
Connection delays not an excuse Passengers on connecting flights must be compensated if they reach their final destination late, even if the first flight left on time, the European Court of Justice ruled. In 2006 Luz-Tereza Folkerts was booked to fly from Bremen, Germany, to Asunción, Paraguay, with connections in Paris and São Paulo, Brazil. Her Air France flight from Bremen to Paris left approximately two-and-half hours late, just under the EU’s “three hour rule” in which compensation is obligatory, but late enough to cause Folkerts to miss her transfer to São Paulo and arrive in Asunción 11 hours late. The ECJ says the rules cover the complete itinerary and not each separate flight because passengers’ “inconvenience linked to an irreversible loss of time is identical”. The case now goes back to German Federal Court of Justice for final adjudication.
AXA sees banner year AXA Luxembourg reports that 2012 premium revenue was up 43% and net profits were up 19.3% to €20.2 million on turnover of €253.7 million. Much of that growth was driven by its life insurance business, which saw gross revenue grow nearly 100%. About two-thirds of that increase came from AXA’s new “Joint Mobiles Offer” service, which provides private pension plans “for mobile workers” and expatriate employees of European multinational companies. The firm gained an 87% customer satisfaction rating last year, according to internal client surveys. AXA Luxembourg will continue pursuing “market segments with high growth, such as health”, says CEO Marie-Hélène Massard.
Energy imports in 2011 Malta * 100.6%
The Grand Duchy needs to reform its unemployment benefits system and its tax rates for older workers, according to economic think tank OECD. “Reforming the welfare system would strengthen work incentives” and help combat rising unemployment, the Going for Growth 2013 report says. Among 40 countries surveyed, the Grand Duchy’s employment insurance scheme replaces the highest level of net income, 90%, during the initial period of unemployment. The OECD report also calls on Luxembourg to “reduce disincentives to continued work at older ages. Labour force participation among older workers is low as a result of early retirement schemes and high implicit taxes on continued work embedded in the old age pension system.” The Grand Duchy has the second highest rate of “lost income” for those working beyond early retirement age in the OECD, 79% of average worker earnings, behind only Greece.
Luxembourg 97.9% Belgium 72.9% Germany 61.1% France 48.9% Estonia 11.7% Denmark † -9%
* including use of reserves / † including energy exports
David Laurent/Wili (archives)
Luxembourg reforms needed
Luxembourg is the second most energy dependent country in the EU, according to new figures from statistics agency Eurostat. The Grand Duchy only produced 3% of its energy needs in 2011, importing the rest. The average was 54% across all 27 member states. Malta and Cyprus imported more than 90% of their energy, while Estonia, Romania and the Czech Republic produced more than 70% on their own.
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25 06/03/13 12:01
BUSINESS Omprakash Payasi and Jean-Claude Schleich
Karin Schintgen and Sudhir Kohli, head of the Indian Business Chamber of Luxembourg Madi Sharma, who built her own business after a life-changing experience
More than 70 IBCL members attended the event, which was held at BGL BNP Paribas’ avenue Monterey building
Helping future generations change for the better was the focus of February’s Indian Business Chamber of Luxembourg conference. Xavier Bettel, mayor of Luxembourg City, argued that changes in the capital’s resident and working-day population meant the controversial tram project needed to proceed. BGL BNP Paribas’ Karin Schintgen publically unveiled the bank’s “Future Lab” which hosts a start-up incubator and offers entrepreneurship courses to high school and university students. Businesswoman Madi Sharma shared her inspiration story of founding a food manufacturer after leaving an abusive husband, asking Luxembourg executives to look beyond CVs and hire “people who want to work” and to “go into schools” and “inspire the kids.” AG
From left: Guy Harles, Marie-Geneviève Barthe, Anil Kumar-Singh and Aditya Sharma
Photographed by Steve Eastwood
Huedya El Saied and Michel Tamisier
Rui Da Costa and Martine Hung
Xavier Bettel argued in favour of changing the face of public transportation in the capital
26 26_Snaps_tbd_AG.indd 26
From left: Martina Przybilla, Olivia Cadiet, Jess Bauldry and Evelien d’Hertog
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Everybody hates the financial transactions tax “None of our members are in favour of the introduction of an FTT,” says a spokeswoman for Luxembourg fund industry association Alfi. “I don’t know of any ABBL members welcoming the FTT,” says a spokesman for Luxembourg’s banking trade group. There is a “risk that such a tax would drive business out of Luxembourg” warns consultancy Ernst & Young. The FTT is the financial transactions tax, also called the “Tobin tax” after Nobel Prize-winning economist James Tobin who first suggested the idea in the 1970s. In the wake of the global economic crisis, the European Commission thinks it will dampen risky financial engineering and provide a safety reserve for the financial sector and perhaps struggling government budgets. Nobody likes paying more taxes, but why is the FTT seen as such an existential threat in the Grand Duchy? Text by Aaron Grunwald
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fter more than 16 months of wrangling, on February 14, the European Commission published proposed rules for a financial transactions tax that will be applied in the 11 European countries--Austria, Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain--that have signed up under “enhanced cooperation”. That means that other EU member states do not have to directly participate in the programme. The FTT 11 represent about two-thirds of the EU’s GDP, according to the European Commission. Luxembourg, along with the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK, for example, have said they will remain outside the system. Those countries together are home to more than two-thirds of Europe’s financial sector. The European Commission has proposed the rates be set at 0.1% for stocks and bonds and 0.01% for derivatives, which Brussels says will raise between 30 and 35 billion euro per year. The 11 countries have yet to decide exactly how to use the funds raised by the levy. The FTT could come into effect as soon as January 1. “We maintained the wide base, covering all financial institutions and all financial instruments,” Algirdas Šemeta, European tax commissioner, announced at a press conference. “The real economy continues to be protected, as we ring-fenced ordinary financial activities of citizens and businesses, as well as activities linked to raising capital. Transactions related to monetary policy, refinancing and public debt management are also outside the scope. Finally, the solid safeguards against relocation of the financial sector from the participating states are not only preserved from the initial proposal--but reinforced.” British prime minister David Cameron calls instituting a FTT “simply madness”, saying it could cut EU GDP by 200 billion euro and cost nearly 500,000 jobs.
“Clearly I consider such a tax to be risky if all the major financial centres in the world do not apply it in the same manner” Luc Frieden Luxembourg finance minister
Council of the European Union
There is a certain irony to UK opposition to the FTT, observes Larry Hatheway, chief economist at UBS Investment Bank. London’s financial centre grew dramatically in the 1960s as a result of the “Eurodollar” market that developed in response to the relatively strict US regulations at the time. Nevertheless, “if you want the tax to bring in revenue, it has to be relatively small” or else activity will move offshore, the London-based economist conceded while he was in Luxembourg last month. At an EU-wide level, if the tax level “is relatively small, it probably will have a relatively small impact” on Europe’s financial markets. Of course, Luxembourg’s financial sector represents a larger part of the country’s economy, so it will “have a much, much bigger impact” than in other countries. At the same time, Hatheway notes that a lot of the growing activities in Luxembourg--such as advisory, fiduciary and trust--is not particularly transaction-oriented.
“People… have the impression that the crisis started in the financial markets and that they have not contributed enough to the solution” Angela Merkel German chancellor
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World Economic Forum
29 06/03/13 12:07
“We believe that the transaction tax is a proposal that has negative impact on growth… it will increase the borrowing costs for governments, for corporations and, obviously, for households” Anders Borg Swedish finance minister
Luc Frieden, the Grand Duchy’s finance minister, has admitted the Tobin Tax might prove popular with the public--even in Luxembourg--especially if it was introduced as a means to reduce personal income tax. However, if the financial transaction tax were only introduced in European jurisdictions, in Frieden’s view institutions will quickly move their operations outside of the EU. “Sweden introduced such tax 20 years ago,” Frieden has said. “It was good for London,” as Swedish financial institutions decamped from Stockholm en masse. The Swedish government ditched the measure in the early 1990s. The new EU measure tries to get around the problem the Swedes faced, by using a “residence principle”, where the FTT is applied based on where financial institutions are located and not where transactions take place.
The tax “will strengthen our single market and temper irresponsible financial trading” Algirdas Šemeta European tax commissioner
Council of the European Union
Relocation risk That means transactions by French or German banks’ subsidiaries, for example, in London or New York will still incur the FTT, law firm Clifford Chance warns its clients. That manoeuvre was “clearly aimed at avoiding the major criticism of an FTT, namely that it will lead to a relocation of activities,” Ernst & Young writes in a report. But “it gives rise to the potential risk of relocation of institutions and/or the routing of transactions via non EU established bodies.” The consulting firm also estimates the FTT will raise approximately 57 billion euro, nearly double the EU forecast. An attorney with a major law firm that works in the fund industry tells Delano that estimates made “applying the actual design of the tax” find “the static yield will be close to 400 billion euro annually, which is of course an impossible figure and they could never raise that much. Actually what you’d have is 400 billion worth of dislocation and relocation of financial markets.” The problem is that the European Commission does not account for the settlement process, which typically involves multiple principal parties for each equity trade, argues the fund lawyer. “Each one of those principle-to-principle trades is charged with the FTT. Whilst they may say the headline rate is 0.1%, actually for a fairly typical chain of settlement within the FTT charging zone, the effective rate could be 10 times that.” “It’s an enormous gap. It’s scandalous that they can present an impact assessment that doesn’t assess the actual effect of the tax. And the only explanation must be that it’s a very politically driven process, and the mere details, like something not making economic sense… that doesn’t mean as much as it should”, in the fund attorney’s view. So is there a potential upside for Luxembourg’s fund sector, as French and German investors flee to the safety of the Grand Duchy? “That seems the logical route. If you were
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05/03/13 17:50 3/1/13 10:31 AM
“A financial transaction tax is a bad idea” David Cameron British prime minister
Council of the European Union
a German individual and you buy securities directly, you will likely pay the FTT. But if you subscribe to a Luxembourg fund, and the Luxembourg fund has been very careful to keep its activity outside of the FTT zone by only dealing in non-FTT zone securities, then your German investor is actually getting a FTT free return. The only thing that might be chargeable to the FTT is if he sells his units in the fund,” the source says.
“I’m aware of a number of fund managers that are moving their funds established in France and Germany to Luxembourg and Ireland”, the lawyer reports. “On the face of it, these relocation effects must be a good thing for the Grand Duchy. The problem is the extent of the design flaw of the tax, and the fact the commission hadn’t understood its effects, mean there could be a very serious effect on the European financial markets generally, and that will have a significant knock-on impact on Luxembourg.” In fact, the document issued last month was only a draft. “The final version, subject to intense lobbying and intercountry negotiations, will be significantly changed and, in all likelihood, toned down,” reckons Dan Alamariu, director at consulting firm Eurasia Group in New York. “The potential economic consequences have only begun to sink in. The proposed FTT, if implemented, risks increasing market instability, leading to curtailed liquidity and higher price volatility, as well as fragmentation of financial markets both within Europe and internationally.” Alamariu believes the FTT will “be delayed past its currently planned-for January 2014 date. There is also a small chance that the 11 states will not unanimously agree to the FTT, which could then face a protracted death. But political will to introduce a tax on financial transactions is evident and other states may also join the 11, should negotiations succeed.” At the same time, one of the EU member states outside the 11 could launch a legal challenge to the FTT before the European Court of Justice in Kirchberg and “there have been indications that Luxembourg, amongst others, may be willing to do this if the extra-territorial impact of the tax is not reduced,” according to Clifford Chance. “Alternatively, once the FTT comes into force, anyone subject to the FTT could challenge the legality of the tax in their local courts; this would likely be eventually referred to the” ECJ. .
“The FTT is an integral part of an exit from crisis… it will bring a fairer distribution of the weight of the crisis”
Anni Podimata Greek MEP
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11/02/13 05/03/13 11:06 17:51
Hot swap ICT
Global forces are slowly but surely re-writing the nature of technology jobs in the Grand Duchy, a major recruitment firm reports.
Most wanted According to Hays, those with a double degree, such as in IT and finance, or in marketing and engineering, are among the hottest profiles currently in demand. Sharepoint, Oracle, security and corebanking systems experts are also top of the list.
ver the past three years, the transformation of IT departments--previously seen as cost centres and now as real sources of profit--has taken off and seen a significant reinforcement given international budgetary restrictions,” recruitment firm Hays says in a report released this month. “After specialised outsourcing, we have noticed the emergence of SAAS (software as a service) and managed services that mark the full integration of IT into business,” the firm’s Luxembourg Salary Survey 2013 observes. Centralisation “primarily brings companies a solution in terms of cost and efficiency requirements.” That is not to say that all technology positions are being eliminated in the Grand Duchy.
march March 2013
In Luxembourg “ICT job growth has outpaced total business employment growth”, according to the rich world think-tank OECD. “The recent financial crisis has put pressure on the ICT labour market, but recovery in ICT services employment and ICTskilled employment has been much faster than across the economy as a whole.” In addition, Hays says that IT re-alignment is boosting the Grand Duchy’s ICT salary levels as jobs move into higher skilled specialties. What does this mean for your next IT job search? “Companies are looking primarily for technical experts who know how to respond to the needs of their end-customers,” the recruitment firm reckons..AG
Skills “The importance given to degrees can vary”, says Hays, although some firms require a master’s. Agile, PMI, Six Sigma and ITIL certifications are all highly sought-after for project management posts. Also “a third language is a valuable asset”.
Salaries Entry-level helpdesk staffers gross around €26,500 per year, while junior developers earn about €32,500 annually, the Hays study finds. Business intelligence and ERP project directors can make €75,000, while IS directors often clear six-figures.
ba /W iki
Hays advises service providers to ensure that they make the necessary financial and resource investments in Luxembourg “to maintain an irreproachable quality of service” or face “losing their customers, but especially seeing their best employees leave.”
Canadian Pacific/Creative Commons
Two firms are helping Luxembourg funds participate in US securities class action settlements. A new joint venture aims to make it easier for the Grand Duchy’s funds firms to participate in US class action settlements. CapFields--an investor services firm in Luxembourg, France and the UK--and Goal Group--a class action claims firm in the UK--launched the unit “to provide securities class action claim services to funds domiciled and managed in Luxembourg.” Worldwide “$18 billion” is left uncollected, according to Goal Group. “The current figure for the amount ‘left on the table’ unreclaimed in Luxembourg is $465 million”, a spokeswoman says. .
Étienne Delorme (archives) – Blitz (archives)
Coeli sets up shop
Arche gets into the act
The premiere family office to be founded under a new Luxembourg law has opened its doors. Arche Family Office is the first firm authorised under the December 2012 family office act. The speciality, which helps wealthy families but was previously unregulated, “is establishing itself as an essential link with the private banking sector in Luxembourg,” says Frédéric Otto, the firm’s president.
Financial regulation in the Grand Duchy is increasingly international, according to one of the Luxembourg financial regulators charged with interpreting a raft of EU and international rules. Interview by Aaron Grunwald Photography by Olivier Minaire
Millions “left on the table”
Swedish asset manager Coeli has opened a new fund management company in Luxembourg, headed by industry veteran Johan Lindberg. The 12 year old firm--which previously focused on distribution in Sweden--is one of the first to take advantage of new EU rules on cross-border investment funds, called the AIFMD. By launching a unit in the Grand Duchy, Coeli hopes to broaden its geographic appeal.
“A unique opportunity”
elano asks Jean-Marc Goy, counsel for international affairs at financial regulator CSSF, what topics are top of mind for 2013. AG: What do you think will be big news in Luxembourg’s financial sector this year? J-MG: This is the first time ever that the International Organization of Securities Commissions annual conference will take place in Luxembourg. We expect between 600 and 850 participants for this event, which will be a unique opportunity to meet and interact with decision takers of the financial sector and with representatives of supervisory authorities from over 110 jurisdictions from all over the world. The event will take place from September 15 to 19, and will be open to the public on the afternoon of September 18 and 19. AG: What is the greatest opportunity that you see for the asset management sector? J-MG: Since the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive is also introducing a passport similar to the passport for UCITS [Ed. note: the type of retail mutual fund that is backbone of Luxembourg’s asset management sector] the industry is hoping to repeat the success which Luxembourg had in the field of UCITS, where Luxembourg is today the leading financial centre, in particular regarding cross-border distribution of UCITS. Luc Frieden, Luxembourg’s finance minister, has repeatedly stressed that the implementation of the AIFMD is a priority for our
government and that Luxembourg strives to be among the first member states of the EU to implement this directive. AG: What are the biggest challenges today as a financial regulator? J-MG: Over the last few years, the regulation and supervision of the financial sector has become more and more international, the aim being a more convergent and harmonised approach with supervisory authorities applying rules--as far as possible--that are fundamentally the same in the major financial centres. This trend will continue in the future, as is illustrated among others by the initiative of the European Commission in view of a banking union with a single supervisory mechanism for banks in the euro area. The challenge for national competent authorities is to make every necessary effort to ensure that their views are taken into due consideration. This is particularly true for supervisory authorities from smaller countries with a welldeveloped financial sector. .
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“ Growth and change” The Luxembourg School of Finance has come a long way in its first decade, but plans to double its offering this autumn. Text by Aaron Grunwald Photography by Luc Deflorenne
Christian Wolff Doubling down on the LSF
he Luxembourg School of Finance marks its 10th anniversary this year, with an ambitious expansion plan under way. The school was originally founded as a separate entity by the LSF Foundation. “That was run by people who were flown in from outside [the Grand Duchy] because at that point there were no resident professors in Luxembourg,” says Professor Christian Wolff, director of the LSF since 2008. The Dutch graduate of the University of Chicago explains that the school became part of the University of Luxembourg, when the university was founded the following year. “Growth and change are the key words here. Ninety percent of the people who work with us now were not here” four years ago. “We’ve been growing, hiring new people. That’s still ongoing; we’re still recruiting very seriously, both for professors and other positions.” Also in that time the original master’s programme has produced more than 300 graduates. That course hosts 75 to 80 students at any given time, in both the full-time and part-time tracks. The master’s in economics and finance programme has about 50 students, and about 10 students annually are accepted into its twoand-half year old doctoral programme. In Wolff ’s view, the LSF has played an important part in the country’s evolution over the past decade. “Luxembourg has a very important financial centre. Not just important in abstract, but important in economic terms for the country,” he says. “It is quite important to have a team of academics who can support the financial centre. You see in the City and on Wall Street academia working relatively closely together with people in the financial centre” and it is important that the Grand Duchy also benefits from the “knowledge transfer”. He cites the LSF staff ’s work with insurance firm AXA on Luxembourg’s pension system and “different projects with the central bank here in Luxembourg on issues of financial stability.” That works the other way too: “We received a chair from Deutsche Bank, so we now have one
of our colleagues, a well-known academic that we managed to get here from the US, who is the Deutsche Bank Luxembourg professor of finance.” The third edition of its Islamic finance executive programme begins in late April, and in February it launched an “executive programme in wealth management, which is something we have organised together with the private banking group of the ABBL, the bankers and banking association.” Indeed, in October the LSF will initiate a new master’s programme in wealth management, also in cooperation with the ABBL private banking group. “With the new masters… we will be experiencing a 100 percent increase in teaching volume in the school.” Although focused on ensuring the new programme goes well, Wolff still has an eye on the future. “We are actively thinking about developing with law colleagues in our faculty a master’s in law and finance. This is at the ‘idea generation stage’. I would not be surprised if this is a programme that is coming out in the next years.”.
In 2014 the majority of the University of Luxembourg will move to its new campus in Esch-Belval, but not the faculty of law, economy and finance. The three departments are currently housed at three separate locations. But after the Belval move, for the first time they will be located together on the same campus, in Limpertsberg. They are remaining in the capital due to “our closeness to the financial centre and in the legal profession”, says Professor Christian Wolff. Closeness to each other is also a plus.
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05/03/13 17:52 5/03/2013 16:35:28
Perks and Pitfalls In today’s economic climate, employee benefits are under pressure and non-existent for the self-employed… right? Text by Tonya Stoneman Photography by Olivier Minaire
n these cost conscious times, your company may not be pampering you with the perks you have come to expect. Luxury hotels and business luncheons of champagne and caviar--these are the fringe benefits worthy of a seasoned executive, right? Instead, you might find yourself working in a mid-sized office with luncheon vouchers as your only gratuity. While there are definitely companies that offer incredible employee benefits, many of the old-guard banks, brokerages and their ilk are tightening their belts. Still, you may be getting more than you think. “Luxembourg has so much regulation and power of the syndicates and union bodies, little can be done to change policy, and this is good news for the employee,” says Darren Robinson of Badenoch & Clark, a local employment agency. In addition, Luxembourg has compulsory indexation, so if you are working in Luxembourg your salary has been increasing at around one to two and a half percent a year, in line with inflation. The government also mandates 25 paid vacation days, in addition to 10 public holidays. Collective agreements in banks give employees over 30 days off, plus public holidays. That’s a lot of vacation time compared with other countries. In the United States, for example, employers are not required to give their workers any days off. “It’s all relative,” says Robinson. “We meet almost 100 people every month who are employed, but are looking for jobs. If they haven’t worked abroad, they sometimes don’t recognize that Luxembourg is a very employee-friendly country.” That said, he concedes there is a lack of creativity in the way benefits are meted out to staff. “Commuting is getting longer,” he says. “A lot of our candidates are asking if companies have start and finish time flexibility. They are also asking for work-from-home options.” He hopes that in the coming years, employers will consider ways to strike a balance in the workplace without compromising clients or teamwork. For Robinson, the issue of benefits is not at all about money. “Salary is never a
Darren Robinson People leave managers, not jobs
driver for people who leave jobs, unless they are incredibly underpaid,” he says. “People don’t leave companies, they leave managers.” Artur Sosna, regional director of Berlitz Language and Business Training, works hard to accommodate individual work-styles. His company offers permanent and freelance work as well as cyber work and phone work. “I try to hire students, spouses, mothers with children and those in a transitional period of life,” he says. The flexible hours and commitment are ideal for people who are working to augment their income, and yet there are also career opportunities for those who want more. The CEO of the Berlitz Corporation, Mark Harris, started out as a teacher in Korea before making his way up the ladder to the top. Sosna, himself, began as a school director in Germany. When the work became routine, he proposed opening a school in Luxembourg and that led to his current position. “We’re the biggest education company in the world,” he says. “You can always transfer to
"Benefits is not all about money. The question for employers is this: how can we create a balance without compromising teamwork and service to clients?" Darren Robinson
Karl Horsburgh Be sure to have back-up
another country or move into management.” Berlitz also offers an array of educational opportunities for employees and their children: language instruction, basic computing skills, and even a free tax advice seminar. If you are self-employed, there are a few benefits in Luxembourg’s tax code that might qualify as perks. Karl Horsburgh, of International Audit Services, has a lot to say about lowering your tax obligation. “You can claim as a deduction anything you can justify as a business expense,” he says. “But you better be prepared to back it up.” One huge deduction might come in the way of a studio or office at home. If your business takes up more than 25 percent of the space in your house, you can claim 10 percent of everything in the house--electricity, water, even landscaping. And you can claim 100 percent of the redecorating for your workspace. However, when you sell the house, the gain is taxed at 25 percent. At this point, Horsburgh would encourage you to take advantage of the tax-
3 THINGS EVERYBODY SHOULD DO: 1 Invest in a Caisse d’épargne logement (building society). You get a €672/year per family member deduction. You can cash out after 10 years, to buy a house (or renovate), or if you leave the country for professional reasons.
free capital gains allowance of 50,000 euro per spouse. But remember, you only get this allowance every 10 years. “The biggest problem for independent workers,” says Horsburg, “is lack of organisation. You don’t get your VAT back if you can’t show a bill. From the beginning, adopt a logical filing scheme for your receipts. You should get a separate checking account and bankcard for your work. Pay for everything work-related by card, so you have a digital record. When you get your monthly statement, file the receipts with it. This saves your accountant time and eventually saves you money--he’s billing you by the hour, so make it easy on him. Or, better yet, file your return as best you can, then pay a highlevel accountant for an hour of his time. Ask him to go through it with you. The next year, copy what you did the previous year.” Whether you’re part of the corporate community or going it alone these days, it seems the frosting on the cake may be only as sweet as you make it. .
2 Invest in a savings life insurance policy. You get a €672/year per family member deduction. It works like a savings account and pays out after 10 years. 3 Take out an article 111B pension policy. You get a €1,500/year per spouse deduction. After 10 years, it matures and you can cash out
These three things add up to €10,000 deduction for a family of four. You’ll have saved €2,000 in a year doing nothing--but saving money!
“Why not give it a go” Eight year resident Unni Holtedahl gives her insight into living and working in the Grand Duchy. Text by Aaron Grunwald Photography by Steve Eastwood
Originally from Gjøvik, 120 kilometres north of Oslo, Unni Holtedahl moved to the Grand Duchy in 2005 after studies in France and working as a tour guide in the Norwegian capital. After three years as a full-time mum to two daughters, she was a freelance journalist before founding expat website Clew.lu, which launched on January 1.
Unni Holtedahl Found her voice
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AG: What brought you to Luxembourg? UH: That was, like many others, my husband’s job… in banking. AG: What was the biggest culture shock? UH: It surprised me that I got ‘famous’ in the maternity ward because I said that I wanted to breastfeed for a year. AG: What inspired you to start Clew.lu? UH: As I used to write for a Swiss online expat magazine, I saw that there could be same kind of ‘niche’ market in Luxembourg as well, so I thought, ‘why not give it a go?’ Then I started talking to people about it and they all thought it was a good idea. It was surprisingly easy to find good contributors in Luxembourg. There are so many talented people, with passions, in Luxembourg that have the time and willingness to share it. I found a lot of good people, and that made it possible. AG: Are you still looking for contributors? UH: [I’m] definitely always open to good people and good ideas. AG: What are the most popular topics on the site? UH: Since our target group is mainly women, ‘women’s stuff ’ is popular. Like food, fashion, health in particular, but also the purely expat related topics [such as] dealing with the expat blues or other things that might be difficult for an expat. AG: Did you get the expat blues when you moved here? UH: Life with a new baby isn’t that easy necessarily, and then in a brand new country and winter came along and the streets got more or less deserted, you see fewer people, it was a little bit hard, yeah. Then you miss your home country, I think many of us get a notion of that.
AG: How did you cope? UH: I did nothing special to deal with it; I let time deal with it basically and talked to people and made friends. AG: What do you miss about Norway? UH: I will always miss knowing all the codes, the cultural codes. You know how everything works, how everything is done, how to behave and act in every situation. And that’s always a relief when I come home, even after all these years. You know the codes that you grow up with and they won’t be the same in a new country. AG: Was it more difficult figuring out the clues here than when you studied in Normandy? UH: I was so young, living a happy student life. I didn’t care the same way, I feel. I don’t remember thinking about it in that way. AG: Do you think you’ll go back to Norway? UH: The plan is to move back one day, yes. Like many others we ended up staying much longer than we had thought. AG: What tips do you have for newcomers? UH: If you’re not working when you come here… find your thing. Whether it be sports or music or voluntary work. Don’t be afraid if it will be in Luxembourgish because I find the Luxembourgers are amazingly flexible and speak in several languages if that’s needed. AG: Did you join a group when you arrived? UH: I did; I immediately joined [singing group] Voices International. AG: Any other advice? UH: I would say, consider learning the language because you might end up staying longer than you think. .
Family Guide: tips, advice and the best spots for parents and kids
tion, i d e 4 tings. s i l 0 0 7 th
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05/03/13 17:49 05/03/13 14:41
Delano presents a selection of the next two months of business and networking events for Luxembourg’s international community. Advance registration or fees may be required, so consult the website indicated for full details. All events are held in English unless otherwise noted.
Indian Chamber www.ibcl.lu
The Network www.the-network.lu
TUE 19 march
RationalFX’s Rajesh Agrawal and KPMG’s Sven Muehlenbrock present “Understanding foreign exchange and international payments” in light of today’s increased regulatory pressures. KPMG, Strassen, 18:00
Thu 21 March
tue 16 April
Tue 23 April
With Luxembourg set to lose its lower e-commerce tax rate advantage in 2015, what’s next for the Grand Duchy’s tech sector? Speakers include Kurt Salmon’s Jean Diederich. Sofitel, Luxembourg-Kirchberg, 13:30
Tue / wed 19 / 20 March
MON 8 april
How to meet
One of the world’s premier asset management confabs covers regulation and other key industry issues. Speakers include the infrastructure minister, Claude Wiseler. Conference Centre, Luxembourg-Kirchberg, all day
The April ABAL luncheon will help you learn how to determine if the extra time and costs of organising a face-to-face meeting versus telepresence is worthwhile. Sofitel, Luxembourg-Kirchberg, 12:00
IMS Luxembourg www.csrluxembourg.lu
Mon 15 April
CSR awards HAVE A SUGGESTION? If your organisation is holding an event of interest to the international community, send details to: email@example.com
Part of an EU-wide campaign, this European CSR Scheme ceremony celebrates the best corporate and social responsibility programmes in the Grand Duchy, for both SMEs and larger organisations. In French. Centre Drosbach, Cloche d’Or, 18:30
“Personal branding” consultant Ted Clohosey provides personal branding tips for all women, even those without their own business. Sofitel, Luxembourg-Kirchberg, 19:00
Sacred Heart Univ. www.shu.lu
What can other industries learn from distribution challenges in the asset management world? Speakers include Kurt Salmon’s Kabanga Michel Kayembe. Abbaye de Neumünster, LuxembourgGrund, 08:30
Polish Chamber www.lpbc.lu
Tue 23 April
Thu 18 April
Are the keys to Luxembourg’s future “braindriven”? That is to say, what role will skills and education play in the country’s development? Speakers include labour minister Nicolas Schmit. University of Luxembourg, Limpertsberg campus, 18:00
This luncheon conference examines how cities can market themselves “in the global village” via an exchange of experiences between Krakow and Luxembourg City. Sign-up via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Hotel Parc Belair, Luxembourg-Belair, 12:00
Mon 6 May
Guest speaker at the May ABAL luncheon is Alice Walpole, the UK’s ambassador to the Grand Duchy, who will discuss “Britain, a major player in Europe”. Sofitel, Luxembourg-Kirchberg, 12:00
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16-21 APRIL 2013 Rockhal Musical
den Atelier presents
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WIN TS KE TIC PRIL A FOR 6Th 1
Send an email mentioning “den Atelier/WEWILLROCKYOU” to email@example.com Deadline for entries is 08 APRIL 2013 Winners will be notified by email
Spring is in the air From a celebration of wine to the opening of new shops, from tourist trails to the recommencement of open-air markets and art sales, all the signs are there that spring has broken.
Delhaize celebrates wine
Text by Duncan Roberts
There is still time to catch Delhaize’s Fête du vin which runs until March 20 in its Luxembourg outlets. Timed just before Easter and ahead of communion celebrations and summer parties, the Fête du vin is an opportunity to stock up the cellar with some carefully selected vintages from 2010, 2011 and 2012. The main focus of the wine festival is on Languedoc-Roussillon, a traditional wine-making region-three times the size of Bordeaux--that has really taken off in terms of quality over the last 40 or so years. Delhaize is offering a sixth bottle for free to customers who purchase five bottles of the same wine. www.delhaize.lu
Wake up to Golden Bean
Empty your lofts
Art in the open
Patisserie and traiteur Oberweis has opened a new flagship outlet in the heart of the capital city. The 900 m2, five-floor site on the Grand-Rue includes a sales point for cakes and pastries and a tea room, a space dedicated entirely to chocolate and a restaurant as well as a private banqueting space. The store was designed by French-Belgian interior architect couple Hélène and Olivier Lempereur. www.oberweis.lu
With a specialist selection of roasted coffee, green coffee, speciality coffee, coffee drinks and coffee cocktails, Golden Bean’s claims to be taking coffee drinking in Luxembourg to a whole new level do not seem like idle boasting. Already the coffee house has established a reputation among a discerning clientele who flock to the rue Chimay outlet to sample unique coffees that are “traceable from the plant to the cup”. Golden Bean is on Facebook
A new season of the vide-grenier second-hand sales on the place Guillaume II (Knuedler) starts on April 7. Individuals can “buy” a stand for just €5 and sell unwanted second-hand items. Last year the sales were a great success, but there may still be a few spots left for the 2013 sales, which continue on the first Sunday of every month until October. Shops in the city are also open in the afternoon of the first Sunday. www.vdl.lu
The arrival of spring heralds a new season of the popular Konscht am Gronn (art in the Grund) events. This year the open air gallery, featuring a wide variety of artists, takes place on the first Sunday of every month between May and October. Visitors can stroll between stands and enjoy local food and drink between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Take the lift down to the Grund from the St. Esprit parking garage. www.konschtamgronn.lu
Table Ronde Luxembourgeoise
Tea dance The Luxembourg City Tourist Office has launched a new series of tea dances on Sunday afternoons. Something of a Luxembourg tradition, the revival thé dansants take place in the grand ballroom of the Cercle Cité on place d’Armes on April 7 and June 9. The dance is led by music from the Sweet Emotions Orchestra featuring special guest Olio Galanti. www.cerclecite.lu
Ducks to water Initiated in 2002 by the Table Ronde Luxembourgeoise, the annual Duck Race is a great fund raiser. Ducks can be purchased for €5 each online or from the Luxembourg City Tourist Office and various other sales points. Owners of the winning ducks can win gift vouchers, dinners and a first prize of a Citroën DS3 from Étoile Garage. This year’s beneficiaries are Study-Help asbl and the Foyer Namasté in Mauritius. The race takes place on April 20. www.duckrace.lu
De Läb is back Luxembourg’s premier hip-hop group De Läb releases its second album on April 5 at the Rockhal (with an after party at Soul Kitchen). Sex, Drugs an e Prêt sees the trio of Corbi, David Fluit and Lomki (aka Jazzy Jeff)--joined by drummer Mike “Maitrenom” Blueprint and bass player René “den Däiwelskärel” Macri--include some new influences. But we hope it retains the group’s often cynical, often amusing word play and socially aware lyrics. http://delabmusic.bandcamp.com
Luxembourg unveiled Travel blog Global Grasshopper is the latest website to have discovered the charm and beauty of the Grand Duchy. Its regular contributor James Taylor writes that it is a shame many travellers do not visit Luxembourg as they are “missing out on a real hidden gem of Europe.” Taylor also calls Luxembourg City “one of the most unique capital cities on the continent.” www.globalgrasshopper.com
Strongmen sought for Differdange challenge
Gourmet promenade The Luxembourg City Tourist Office’s next English-language gourmet promenade takes place on April 4. The city walks take in some of the more interesting and often less well-known sights of the capital city as well as three local restaurants at which participants will enjoy one course each of a three-course meal. The cost of the tour includes the meal and drinks. The April 4 tour starts at the Abbaye de Neumünster at 6 p.m. www.lcto.lu
The Grand Duchy is gearing up for its first ever StrongmanRun, part of the Fisherman’s Friend international series held throughout Europe. The Luxembourg leg is being hosted by the city of Differdange on October 20, but the organisers are expecting a healthy turn out for the Grand Duchy’s first such race, so athletes are encouraged to sign up early. The 11-kilometre course, which contestants have to negotiate twice, consist of a number of obstacles familiar to most Strongman races --anything from logs and trees to hay bales and climbing walls, nets, truck tyres and swing ropes--and, of course plenty of mud, sand and water. The course will be around Differdange and will make use of the area’s natural beauty, its woods and valleys. Similar to the British Tough Guy events, the Fisherman’s Friend series started out as a small event in 2007 at an army camp in Munster and has since grown to include races in Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, France and Austria. Some 4,000 competitors are expected to sign up for the Differdange race. Registration is limited to the over-16s (and those under 18 must get parental permission). www.strongmanrun.eu
New second-hand store Danish resident Lise Lundqvist has opened a new second-hand store in Bereldange. Secondhand4sale stocks second-hand clothes, known designer and brand names, primarily for women and children between the ages of three and 16, but also a few items for men. The store also has character clothing for children, handmade articles and products made from recycled materials. www.secondhand4sale.com
Passion and curiosity •
Over the last 10 years the volume of English-language productions in Luxembourg has grown exponentially. Luxembourg theatres are getting in on the act by staging “home-made” professional productions and inviting prestigious touring companies to perform in the Grand Duchy. What lies behind this phenomenon, and what are the challenges in establishing a sustainable English-language theatre scene in Luxembourg? Text by Duncan Roberts Photography by Luc Deflorenne
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CHRIS ALBRECHT New World Theatre Club
ERIK ABBOTT Actors Rep
TIMOTHY LONE Actors Rep
NEIL JOHNSON Pirate Productions
ANNE SIMON Théâtre National du Luxembourg
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Luxembourg actors Myriam Muller and Jules Werner in “Closer” Performing in English poses no problem
arch is a busy month for English-language theatre in the Grand Duchy. Luxembourg’s oldest English-language theatre group, New World Theatre Club, is putting on two shows-Another School Shooting is an NWTC Youth Group production and Oxygen is a jointventure with the European Union Science Olympiad--while the Kasemattentheater has just finished a five-night run of Will Eno’s Oh, The Humanity and Other Good Intentions… directed by Luxembourger Anne Simon. Later this spring BGT brings its production of Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit to the Abbaye de Neumünster following a run at the Mersch Kulturhaus. And that is followed in June by the debut production from the Actors Repertory Theatre Luxembourg--Edward Albee’s The Goat--at the Théâtre National du Luxembourg. And all this follows a slew of productions in the past year ranging from Cheek by Jowl’s violent Jacobean tragedy ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore to Pirate Production’s latest musical comedy, Nunsense. It is a long cry from the early 1990s when NWTC, Pirates and, now sadly defunct, Irish community theatre group The Round Tower Players produced two or three shows a year.
Mother tongue Anne Simon, who studied drama and theatre at Royal Holloway University in London, believes the increased prominence of Englishlanguage theatre can be attributed to a shift in demographics in Luxembourg and the increasing importance of English as a language, rather than any “artistic development.” She thinks that there has also been a cultural change as more and more people from the local theatre--including herself and Tom Leick (an actor now in the production office at the Grand Théâtre) and Jules Werner (the premier Luxembourg actor of his generation)-went to study in England. But Simon also says that French theatre is losing its influence, and that theatre from Germany and the UK is generally more interesting. “Which is interesting, because previously British theatre people or musicians would often go to France to be free and find an outlet for their creativity.” Simon has been lucky in that, after she was offered a job by Frank Hoffmann at the TNL, she has been able to pretty much choose what works she directs. Her English-language CV includes Tuvia Tennebom’s The Last Virgin (a satire about suicide bombers in Jerusalem) as well as My Name Is Rachel Corrie (based on
“I have the philosophy that there is no such thing as too much theatre” Timothy Lone (Actors Rep)
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the national diversity of the English-speaking community in Luxembourg. “This doesn’t mean that we are always looking for plays which specifically contain characters from different nationalities, but that we try to use those national accents and traits to highlight aspects of the characters.” Pirate Productions, too, is keen to nurture and promote a scenario of having a significant number of non-mother tongue principal actors. Nevertheless, finding a male romantic lead suitable for some of the shows Pirates puts on is not always easy. “There’s a dearth of actors in their mid to late 20s in Luxembourg, and finding a good-looking guy in that age bracket who can act, sing and dance is no picnic. Anyone want to prove me wrong?” says Neil Johnson. Audiences, too, are less likely to be 100 percent mother tongue these days. Indeed, as Tom Leick points out, when the Grand Théâtre reopened its doors in 2003 after a major five-year refurbishment the fabric of the Luxembourg audience had changed enormously. “Increasingly international and cosmopolitan and more diverse than ever, it became apparent very quickly that the programming of the Théâtres de la Ville [the Grand Théâtre and the Théâtre des Capucins] would have to change accordingly and that productions in French and German would ultimately not suffice to cater for this continually evolving clientele.” letters by the peace activist killed by an Israel Defense Force bulldozer in Gaza) and a stunning debut with Never Shop and Fuck When You’re Angry, a mash-up of two plays that redefined British theatre--John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger and Mark Ravenhill’s Shopping and Fucking. Occasionally Simon will accept an assignment from another theatre, such as the Eno piece for the Kasemattentheater. This, like productions at the Capucins of Coward’s Design For Living and Patrick Marber’s Closer directed by Douglas Rintoul, featured a primarily local cast in English-speaking roles. Simon has no problem working with non-native speakers. “But it is interesting because none of the languages we usually perform in is our mother tongue, so we maybe have a different approach to that. So to grab that chance to do so many plays in different languages is interesting.” Indeed, Simon is not the only director casting non-native speakers in English-language roles. At BGT, Tony Kingston says his company’s aim is to build up a company of international players who play in English and reflect
Prometheus By: Anne Simon Director: Anne Simon Synopsis: a science-fiction fantasy that examines the concept of immortality, the ethics of science, human development and technology. Company: Théâtre National du Luxembourg Dates/times: March 19 at 8 p.m. Venue: Théâtre National du Luxembourg, route de Longwy, Luxembourg-Merl Tickets: €20 adults from www.luxembourg-ticket.lu, www.tnl.lu
Another School Shooting By: Gerald Arthur Moore Director: Sean Sideris Synopsis: an insight into the aftereffects of a school shooting on four diverse characters, whilst provoking the audience and paying tribute to survivors of past school shootings. Company: New World Theatre Club (Youth Group) Dates/times: March 16-18 at 7 p.m. Venue: Tramsschapp, rue Ermesinde, Luxembourg-Limpertsberg Tickets: €15 adults, €10 students from firstname.lastname@example.org or tel. 356 339 or www.nwtc.lu
Visiting companies Julius Caesar, directed by Deborah Warner with an all star cast led by Ralph Fiennes, was the first English language play to be presented at the Grand Théâtre in 2005. Many have followed since, including works produced by the Théâtres de la Ville themselves such as the world premiere of Broadway in the Shadows and Krapp’s Last Tape, as well as the aforementioned Design for Living and Closer. International touring company Cheek by Jowl has been to Luxembourg four times with The Changeling, Cymbeline, Macbeth and ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore. “They were very keen to extend their touring circuit beyond their usual stomping grounds and relatively easy to persuade to come to Luxembourg,” says Leick. Collaborations with the National Theatre London and more recently Doug Rintoul’s Transport, which brought Invisible to Luxembourg, and award-winning Complicite, whose stunning The Master and Margarita wowed audiences at the Grand Théâtre in 2011, have also developed. “The most important thing for us is that
Oxygen By: Carl Djerassi and Roald Hoffmann Director: John Brigg Synopsis: a lively and witty mix of chemical history and fictional drama, that examines the events leading up to the “discovery” of oxygen in the 1770s and the search by scientists in 2001 to unveil who the real discoverer was. Company: New World Theatre Club (within the framework of the European Union Science Olympiad) Dates/times: March 20-23 at 8 p.m. Venue: Kinneksbond, route d’Arlon, Mamer Tickets: €20 adults, €8 students from www.luxembourg-ticket.lu, www.nwtc.lu
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we offer something for everyone and keep the curiosity of our audience alive,” says Leick. “We try to apply the same criteria to Englishlanguage productions as we do to all our programme and that is first of all quality and artistic merit.”
“THERE IS AN ÜBERVALORISATION OF LANGUAGE; BUT THEATRE ISN’T ALL ABOUT LANGUAGE” ANNE SIMON (TNL)
Neil Johnson estimates that between 30 and 40 percent of Pirate Productions’ audience is comprised of non-native English speakers. But he says that in lots of ways musical theatre is perhaps more accessible to non-native English speakers. “You don’t need the same level of English to get something out of Chicago as you would of Death of Salesman, for example.” On the other hand, Anne Simon argues that people are drilled to comprehend everything, almost conditioned to think they are not intelligent if they don’t understand art, while not enough importance is placed on “ feeling” something. She explains that during a university story-telling course she once took part in an experiment for which students from different countries had to tell a familiar fairytale in their native language. “It was interesting how, within 10 seconds, everyone knew which story you were telling. There is an über-valorisation of language, but theatre isn’t all about language.” Her own production, Prometheus, features three different languages--English, French and German--and Simon says it has attracted quite young audiences, she thinks because of the future technology theme of the piece, that responded really well despite often not fully understanding one of the languages. Nevertheless, at the Grand Théâtre, which has a more generous budget, French and Germanspeaking audiences can enjoy English-language productions thanks to surtitles. Furthermore, as Chris Albrecht, chair of NWTC, explains, depending on the topic of the play, Luxembourg secondary school teachers also encourage their English class students to watch English language plays. “Not to mention students taking drama classes.” Indeed, Tom Leick says that the Grand Théâtre is very much aware of its educational responsability. “We often encourage classical texts performed by British companies such as Cheek by Jowl. There is no better way to introduce this repertoire to our younger audiences.” Prometheus is a kind of repertory piece, with just one actor (Pitt Simon--no relation) and a minimalist stage and so can be performed in the TNL foyer. “We can only ever do that with
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one play a season, because we don’t have any ensembles or actors’ companies. That is just a problem we have to live with,” Anne Simon explains. Timothy Lone of Actors Rep says that the problem is even more difficult for smaller companies who need sponsorship to survive. “There is not a lot of revenue coming through ticket sales, because the thing about Luxembourg is that the number of performances is limited, no matter what language you are performing in.” Simon agrees, saying that it is impossible to do three-month runs like there would be in London. “We can’t afford to do 20 shows, it’s simply not possible.”
Venue challenge But Johnson says that finding venues is “the bane of my life”, especially because musicals require large spaces. For its last few shows Pirates has been using venues outside the city such as the Château de Bettembourg. “It’s a lovely venue and I think our core audience doesn’t mind too much, as it’s fairly easy to park.” Tony Kingston of BGT, who has used out-of-town venues such as the Mersch Kulturhaus, says that finding a venue is not too big a problem if planned at least a year or 18 months in advance, although he does have some ideas about how to help the situation. “I think a few more small venues, like the 50 to 60 seat off-theatre ones you find in Berlin or London, which would allow one to do a longer run of a show, without the venue feeling empty some nights, would be a great development.” Albrecht also welcomes the recent addition of new venues. “Traditionally, venues have been either old, poorly equipped, not well located or very difficult to get a slot for. NWTC definitely welcomes new venues such as the Kinneksbond or Tramsschapp, which hopefully will mean greater availability.” Simon says the international audience, as she prefers to call it, is very keen, and that if they know about a production they will come. “Which proves there is a need to do Englishlanguage theatre.” Indeed, everyone seems to agree that the growth in English-language theatre, both from visiting companies and local productions, has raised awareness among potential audiences. Albrecht says that despite competing for similar audiences and skills, the groups are interacting and benefiting from each other. “It has ensured that NWTC moves on with time, renews its skills and its base of available cast and crew, as well as reinvents its audiences. Audience cross-over benefits, however, are still quite small, largely
because audiences of professional theatre are loyal to the venue rather to the performing group.” Johnson, too, welcomes the growth in English-language theatre, even though he is not sure there’s been a trickle-down effect to Pirates. “Musical theatre is still pretty thin on the ground and there’s not such a tradition of it on the continent.” However, the Grand Théâtre did last year add the musical to its genre, bringing over Dreamcoats and Petticoats. “Having a West-End show in Luxembourg... is an added attraction for audiences,” Leick says. The latest addition to the company of local English-language theatre groups is the Actors Repertory Theatre Luxembourg, the brainchild of American residents Timothy Lone and Erik Abbott. “We are very focused in being a Luxembourg-based company,” they say. “Ultimately, the dream is to put on a full professional season.” That may sound ambitious, but with years of theatre experience in the States, Lone and Abbott can distinguish between what professional and amateur companies actually do. “Amateur companies are better able to expose people to their first experience and nurture people who don’t have a background in theatre. What a professional company can do is take experienced professional and focus in a different direction, focus on projects; it would be difficult to do in an amateur situation,” says Abbott. NWTC has nurtured its own talents through an ever-growing youth group programme. Despite having a limited team of volunteers, this year the company enjoyed the largest participation ever for the Youth Group. “Clearly an indication that youth English-language theatre is alive and well in Luxembourg,” says Albrecht. There is, then, a bright future for English-language theatre in Luxembourg. “I have the philosophy that there is no such thing as too much theatre,” says Lone. “Particularly too much good theatre. So the more we can cooperate and collaborate, the better it is for all organisations. The more curiosity and passion that we can present on the performance end, the more it will build an audience.” Leick says that English-language productions always do extremely well and the demand seems to be growing. “This keeps spurring us on to extend our network of English-language partners.” And he reveals some good news for English-language audiences. “We are currently in talks with the Young Vic, the Barbican and the Actor’s Touring Company in London about future projects.” .
By: Noël Coward Director: Tony Kingston Synopsis: a supernatural comedy about a successful happily married to his second wife, who conjures up the ghost of his fun-loving and mischievous first wife at a séance. Company: BGT English Theatre Company Dates/times: May 14-18 at 8 p.m. Venue: Abbaye de Neumünster, rue Munster, Luxembourg-Grund Tickets: €18 adults, €8 students from www.ccrn.lu, www.bgt.lu
The Goat By: Edward Albee Director: Erik Abbott Synopsis: a provocative play about a successful architect married and with a teenage son, who begins a disturbing love affair that threatens to tear the family apart. Company: Actors Repertory Theatre Luxembourg (Actors Rep) Dates/times: June 3, 5, 6, 11 & 12 at 8 p.m., June 10 at 2 p.m. Venue: Théâtre National du Luxembourg, route de Longwy, Luxembourg-Merl, www.tnl.lu Tickets: €20 adults from www.luxembourg-ticket.lu, www.actorsrep.lu
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All geared up for St. Patrick’s celebrations 04
Gaelic sports day
Luxembourg’s Irish pubs will celebrate with special events all over the St. Patrick’s weekend. The Black Stuff in Pulvermühle is hosting Irish dancing with Tir na n’Og on the 15th and live music with the Aisling Fallon band on the 17th. Urban in the old town will also be making sure the celebrations go with a bang and The Pyg down in Clausen will host a traditional Irish band as well as local heroes The AyeTunes on March 17. www.blackstuff.lu, www.urban.lu, The Pyg is on Facebook
The Gaelic Sports Club Luxembourg, which this year celebrates its 35th anniversary, is hosting an all-day exhibition of Gaelic games and Irish culture at the home of FC Avenir Beggen. The event includes Gaelic football and hurling, as well as face-painting, for children. A bar and grill will ensure thirst is slated and hunger sated. The event starts at 11 a.m. and entrance is free. March 15, Stade Avenir Beggen, Luxembourg-Beggen, www.gaa.lu 05
Best of new Irish cinema
Irish Club Dinner Party
Cuba hosts Céilí
Four new Irish films are being shown at the St. Patrick’s Film Festival at the Utopia. The four films include Lenny Abrahamson’s heartbreaking teen drama, What Richard Did (photo), which picked up five IFTA awards this year and has been hailed as one of the most important Irish film of this century. Other IFTA award winners on show include documentary Men at Lunch, about New York construction workers in the 1920s (the title is taken from the iconic photograph of men sitting on a girder high above the New York streets). Music biopic Good Vibrations, about the godfather of Belfast punk Terri Hooley, who helped bring The Undertones to wider attention, also won an award for best costume. The final film in the short season is Jump, a crime caper comedy-drama about 20-somethings in Derry on New Year’s Eve. The festival is part of an initiative of Ireland’s presidency of the EU and is organised in conjunction with the Irish Film Institute, under the patronage of the Embassy of Ireland and linked with the British & Irish Film Season. March 20-23, Ciné Utopia, avenue de la Faïencerie, Luxembourg-Limpertsberg, www.utopolis.lu
The Irish Club of Luxembourg’s St. Patrick’s Dinner Party is being hosted at FuBar on Friday March 15. The menu consists of smoked salmon, Irish stew, traditional apple pie and Irish coffee. Music will be provided by Stephen Moynihan (photo) and the Ireland stand at the International Bazaar will run a charity tombola during the evening. Tickets at €30 can be booked via email: email@example.com. March 15, FuBar, rue de la Tour Jacob, Luxembourg-Clausen, www.irishclub.lu
Traditional Irish band Ceolmhar, featuring Holly Geraghty on concertina and Jonathan Roche on accordion, plays live music at a Céilí at Brasserie de l’Arrêt on St. Patrick’s Day. Described as “an explosive cultural cocktail” as the Irish take over the Cuban bar, the event will “satisfy anyone’s demand for reels, jigs and hornpipes.” It takes place from 3 to 6 p.m. March 17, Brasserie de l’Arrêt, route de Longwy, Luxembourg-Merl
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Creative concepts – competent implementation
Menuiserie Kraemer s.à r.l. 8, Fräschegaass L-9353 Bettendorf Luxembourg Phone: [+352] 80 92 18 -1 Fax:
[+352] 80 85 49
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Exceptional living The home furnishing market seems oblivious to crisis. While large-scale retailers continue to thrive, there’s a growing demand for personalised and exclusive interior design.
Norbert Brakonier Meticulously creative
Text by Neel Chrillesen Photography by Olivier Minaire
kitchen and a drum set. Not the first things you’d imagine seeing when walking in, but then again Norbert Brakonier isn’t your typical designer. When he was a child he dreamt of becoming a whale biologist, and until he was 28 years old he sold instruments to professional musicians. Then he decided to start a new career from scratch. “I had always designed furniture for myself and was determined to do something about my passion.” Particularly drawn by wood-“wood has its own personality, it has knots, cracks, it’s raw… it’s cool”--he worked as a carpenter apprentice for several years before setting up his own company. He also fell in love, which resulted in a move from Germany to Luxembourg. The first piece of furniture Brakonier sold was for a bathroom sink but his favourite source of inspiration remains the kitchen, probably in part because it gives him the possibility of exploring func-
tionality to the utmost. “A kitchen has to be beautiful and extremely functional. I love creating spaces to hide and store appliances and utensils. It has something magical about it. I also love to cook--and eat--which might also explain why I have a thing for kitchens.” The designer admits making food in the same way he makes furniture: the craftsman way. “Osso Buco is my signature dish and my wife always makes fun of the way I cut the vegetables. Everything has to be the same size. It’s the same when I make sandwiches for the kids, I’m very meticulous!” Despite his obsession for cutting carrots in perfect cubes, Brakonier is all but square minded, which has made him one of Luxembourg’s design darlings. “What’s great here is that architects make exceptional homes, which allows us to create exceptional design. I love finding the perfect solution, experimenting with
different materials, adapting the design to the space, the light, the personalities and lifestyles of the people living there.” Even though he’s still very fond of wood, he willingly uses materials such as concrete, acrylic resin, leather, felt, glass and metal. “People are more and more open to distinctive, original ideas. Nowadays, 80 percent of kitchens don’t have to be white for example. It leaves room for a lot of creativity.” Brakonier sees furniture “as a décor, a jewel”, but with a functional twist, whether he designs lamps, tables or surprising storage spaces. He likes to underline, however, that he doesn’t do all this by himself. “We are 12 people working in Luxembourg now, and 16 in the atelier in Germany! When I started out, I hoped to one day do what I’m doing now. I’m incredibly lucky. And I still have so many projects and ideas!”. www.nbr.lu
LIFESTYLE Qiphome.com They don’t make ’em like this anymore
Michèle Rob is co-founder of Carré Rouge, known for carrying classic design names, hot new ones and its own edition. She recently paired up with Dane Niclas Lorendsen to launch Rob Vintage. In a showroom--open on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.--that resembles a private apartment (Rob’s parents once lived here), you’ll find a rather exceptional selection of the finest, hippest vintage furniture. “Rare design items that aren’t made anymore,” she notes. “Some are from my personal collection, but I find treasures every day.” www.rob.lu
Not for the masses
Bang & Olufsen
Emotional appeal Through the years, Bang & Olufsen has managed to stay on top with a timeless aesthetic design to which you rapidly get attached. Each product has a distinctive identity and functional appeal that makes it possible to fit into any environment, no matter if you’re into pure lines or frilly decors. The Danish company offers home visits to ensure the perfect fit. Mads Skak Olufsen says: “There are no problems, only challenges.” www.bang-olufsen.com
hen it comes to decorating with style, the sine qua non is mixing modern and traditional, vintage and contemporary, high street and exceptional. Viviane Bumb takes care of the unique design items, the ones that won’t be “coming to a store near you”. She launched qiphome.com last year in part to promote some of the talented people she kept coming across. “On one hand I wanted to provide a professional platform for manufacturers of unique homeware to sell their products nationally or even internationally. On the other hand I wished to offer individuals with high aesthetic standards a selection of unique interior products. In a nutshell: to create a virtual marketplace where like-minded buyers and sellers meet, easily and straightforward. Online shopping is simple when you know exactly what you want, but if you’re seeking quirky quality design items, you have to fight through a virtual jungle.” Bumb calls qiphome.com a “curated marketplace” because sellers and products are handpicked.
“Not only designers can sell on qiphome.com. Talented craftsmen, small manufactures, vintage stores or concept stores are also welcome. Our selecting criteria is that they have to design, create or sell beautiful, quirky, unique, limited or small editions, sustainable, high-quality interior products which are mainly produced in Europe. With our selection we aim to reflect a contemporary style, which not only includes edgy design, but moreover vintage, solid craftsmanship and up-cycled products.” One of the site’s bestsellers is the Silk&Burg Luxembourgish recipe tea towels by Danish designer Marie Pedersen. Newcomers Bruce Wayland and Marcello De Simone, the Dutch creative duo behind Little Owl Design, are also proving to be very popular. “In their work they combine things, like patterns and paintings on plates or photos and engravings on wallpaper. Their work isn’t just ‘up-cycling’, but a journey to make beautiful things.”. www.qiphome.com
16 live performances Culture gets to think local over the coming weeks. Plenty of Luxembourg artists--from jazz talents Pascale Schumacher and Francesco Tristano to dancer Jean-Guillaume Weis via electro outfit Monophona and contemporary music collective United Instruments of Lucilin--get to perform on local stages. Text by Duncan Roberts 01
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club Venue favourite BRMC returns for a fourth show at den Atelier--the trio was the guest act at its 15th birthday party in 2010. Regulars will testify that BRMC’s debut show there in 2005 was one of the venue's best. The band releases new album Specter at the Feast on March 18. April 2, den Atelier, Luxembourg-Hollerich, www.atelier.lu
Quasar Cia de Dança Brazilian contemporary dance troupe Quasar Cia de Dança prides itself on being free “of the academic straitjacket”. Latest show, Céu na Boca (Up in the mouth), by choreographer and cofounder Henrique Rodovalho, explores the laws of physics and evolutionary theory, the gap between everyday living and the promise of paradise. April 9 & 10, Grand Théâtre, Luxembourg-Limpertsberg, www.theatres.lu
Out of the Crowd
Double digits festival The annual Out of the Crowd festival celebrates its 10th anniversary this year with a line-up that highlights its credibility as an indie love-in par excellence. Organised by The Schalltot Collective at the Kulturfabrik in Esch-Alzette, the festival attracts international bands and artists as well as local acts from Luxembourg and the Greater Region. It also always features an exhibition, which this year brings together artists from Luxembourg, France, Germany and Latvia whose work questions the construction and deconstruction of images in the overload of the contemporary media landscape. But the main draw is the music, and to mark the special anniversary CarréRotondes has added its weight behind the festival. The confirmed line-up so far includes Seattle indie rock outfit Minus the Bear (whose first Luxembourg appearance was promoted by The Schalltot Collective some nine years ago), “brainiac indie” (The Guardian) trio Tall Ships (photo) from the UK, Scottish garage-rock outfit Paws, US electro-house artist Publicist (producer/performer Sebastian Thomson), 18-year old electro-indie whizzkid Mmoths (aka Jack Colleran) and local electro-ambient-folk trio Monophona. April 20, Kulturfabrik, Esch-Alzette, www.ootcfestival.com
SchumacherTristano-Khalifé As part of the annual Printemps Musical festival, Luxembourg vibraphone star Pascal Schumacher and local piano talent Francesco Tristano perform as a trio with Lebanese percussionist Bachar Khalifé. The combination could not be more fitting for a festival that celebrates world music and jazz. April 17, den Atelier, Luxembourg-Hollerich, www.printempsmusical.lu
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Canapé GroundpieCe Composable design Antonio Cit terio
mobilier, décoration et luminaires
26, avenue de la Porte-Neuve L - 2227 Luxembourg Tél. 22 26 27 firstname.lastname@example.org www.casanova.lu 59_PUB_casanova.indd 59
We Will Rock You The spirit of Freddie Mercury lives on in Ben Elton’s musical, which broke all records at London’s Dominion theatre. It is now on an arena tour that takes in Luxembourg for eight shows in six days. The libretto is built around 24 Queen songs and is set in an Orwellian future. The band’s Brian May and Roger Taylor act as music supervisors, while Arlene Phillips oversees the musical staging and choreography. April 16 to 21, Rockhal, Esch-Belval, www.atelier.lu
Beach House French-born vocalist Victoria Legrand and American partner Alex Scally make luscious dream pop. Latest album, Bloom, has, in the words of Kitty Empire in The Guardian, captured the market in “late twentysomething romantic melancholia”. Their post-shoegaze sound has been compared to the Cocteau Twins, and Empire reckons there is also a similarity with Mercury Rev. But it is Legrand’s voice that makes the music so compelling. March 21, Rockhal, Esch-Belval, www.rockhal.lu
Cassandra Wilson & Band
Bonaparte Former bedsit recording artist Tobias Jundt has upped his game for Bonaparte’s third album Sorry, We’re Open. The Swiss eccentric made a name for himself with quirky lo-fi electro songs like the infectious ‘Too Much’. He has now used a studio for the first time, and the feel is more rock-blues, but he still delivers songs that speak of sexy delirium. And Bonaparte’s stage shows remain akin to a costume ball on speed. April 14, Rockhal, Esch-Belval, www.rockhal.lu
Cassandra Wilson has a reputation in the music business for her “Nina Simone-like low register and supple phrasing” (John Fordham, The Guardian) and an eclectic approach to her craft. She has performed as a band leader and with artists such as Courtney Pine, The Roots, Wynton Marsalis and Angélique Kidjo. Latest album Another Country shows off her unique vocal strengths. April 11, Philharmonie, LuxembourgKirchberg, www.philharmonie.lu 10
Via Katlehong South Africa’s Via Katlehong dance troupe specialises in variations of street dance. They perform a vibrant pantsula (which mimes scenes from township life) and gumboot (a dance invented by miners wearing rubber boots and based on hand, thigh and calf claps) to traditional song. April 16 & 17, Grand Théâtre, Luxembourg-Limpertsberg, www.theatres.lu Benjamin Ealovega
The four elements
The Aventure+ programme, curated by pianist Joanna MacGregor, is a series of four events that begin with a concert in the Philharmonie’s main hall and conclude with a complementary performance of music or dance in the foyer of the Christian de Portzamparc designed building. The concert programme in the grand auditorium sees Mark Wigglesworth (photo) conduct the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, while the post-concert performance sees Luxembourg choreographer JeanGuillaume Weis dance to entertain the audience. It opens with Sir Michael Tippett’s Four Ritual Dances from his opera The Midsummer Marriage, then switches to slightly darker mode with a series of extracts from Richard Wagner’s Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods), including Brünnhilde’s immolation, for which soprano Christine Brewer is the soloist. Weis, renowned for his physical energy and charisma on stage, performs a dance in the foyer set to Italian composer Luciano Berio’s Six Encores for piano played by Cathy Krier. April 19, Philharmonie, Luxembourg-Kirchberg, www.philharmonie.lu
Lydia Lunch/ Philippe Petit New York icon Lydia Lunch is an artist who has resolutely refused to compromise and has always sought to produce original material. She performs here with French musician Philippe Petit, which results, in the words of reviewer Terry Mulcahy, in “avant-garde pieces as obtuse as they are thick with foreboding.” March 22, Philharmonie (Espace Découverte), Luxembourg-Kirchberg, www.philharmonie.lu
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Sinkane Sudanese-born musician Ahmed Gallab, now out of Columbus, Ohio, has emerged from his early career as a session musician for bands such as Caribou and Of Montreal to develop his own project, Sinkane. His new music, on album Mars, is an eclectic groove-based blend of soul and rock as well as traces of his Sudanese roots and references to the likes of Can. The result is maybe too laid-back for some tastes, but infectious nonetheless. April 18, Exit07 (CarréRotondes), Luxembourg-Hollerich, www.rotondes.lu
United Instruments of Lucilin The local contemporary music collective, based around a core string quartet, joins forces with ondes Martenot player Valérie Hartmann-Claverie to perform a concert in the Philharmonie’s “Musiques d’aujourd’hui” series. The programme includes works by Tristan Murail, Philippe Hurel and Olivier Messiaen as well as Bruno Mantovani’s intriguing sounding Hopla pour flûte et boules de pétanque. April 12, Philharmonie, Luxembourg-Kirchberg, www.philharmonie.lu
The Byrnes Siblings Anne-Marie, Michael and Patrick, and Patrick’s daughter, Eileen Byrne, will perform songs old and new from France, Scotland and Ireland concerts in aid of the Institute for Healing of Memories (www.healing-memories.org) in Cape Town, South Africa. The quartet is joined by Luxembourg flautist Marielle Probst, Scottish fiddler Katherine Stewart and family member Catriona Byrne for some Irish dancing. April 6 & 7, Abbaye de Neumünster (Salle Robert Krieps), Luxembourg-Grund, www.ccrn.lu
One Direction tour
Win meet & greet with Camryn Rising teen star Camryn is the opening act for One Direction as the boy band takes its Take Me Home tour to their native UK and Europe. The tour comes to the Galaxie in Amnéville on April 30, and Delano has a fab prize on offer--two tickets to the show and a meet & greet with Camryn (www.camrynmusic.com) in her tour bus. Who knows, the lucky winner may bump in to Harry and the gang backstage. Camryn is just 13 but has already been making waves on the US pop circuit having opened for One Direction on its Up All Night tour of America and also appearing on the Waiting 4U tour featuring Cody Simpson and Greyson Chance. So far Camryn has four releases under her belt. Debut single ‘Wait and See’ featured a video shot on the Hannah Montana set, while third single ‘Now or Never’ was debuted on that Up All Night tour with One Direction. To win the tickets and meet & greet, simply name one of the other two songs Camryn has released. Send your answers, with full name, contact details and age (and, if under 18, the name and contact details of parents) to: email@example.com. Mark your email “Camryn meet & greet”. Deadline is Monday, April 8. Camryn & One Direction, Galaxie, Amnéville (France), www.le-galaxie.fr
Tokyo String Quartet Considered one of the premier chamber ensembles on the concert circuit, the Tokyo String Quartet is currently undertaking its farewell tour. Martin Beaver and Kikuei Ikeda (violins), Kazuhide Isomura (viola) and Clive Greensmith (cello) have been together since 1969 when they met at the Juilliard School of Music. The programme includes quartets for strings by Haydn, Schubert and Webern. March 21, Centre des Arts Pluriels, Ettelbrück, www.cape.lu
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HAPPY KIDS: Culture fun
If you serve it to them right, even the most reluctant children will embrace books and art (and if not, there’s always the option of sending them on a fun holiday camp). Text by Neel Chrillesen
Art in a tunnel Getting children into a contemporary art gallery isn’t always easy but if you tell them it’s underground, it might bring on the needed enthusiasm. If not, drag them there anyway because the “Am Tunnel” gallery--situated in the tunnels connecting four bank buildings--is amazing! The new exhibition Arts comparés runs to June 23. Open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sundays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Free entrance. BCEE, 16 rue Ste Zithe, Luxembourg-Centre
Art in a water tower The recently opened Waasertuerm museum is dedicated to photography and situated in an old industrial water tower and adjacent pumping station. World famous exhibitions (an Edward Steichen collection is located here) are only part of the adventure. One Saturday a month, a pretty amazing “Youth Corner” photography workshop is organised for 6-14 year olds. Sign-up via: firstname.lastname@example.org. Waassertuerm, 1b rue du Centenaire, Dudelange, www.cna.lu
Not all kids will jump up and down in excitement when you suggest taking them to a book fair--no matter how great it is (and it is!). However, the one organised each year by the Comité de Liaison des Associations d’Étrangers--this year on March 15, 16 and 17--takes place at the same time and in the same location as the Festival of Migration, Culture and Citizenship. In addition to books and authors from all over the world, there’s a range of workshops and activities organised for kids, food stands, dancing, exhibitions and much more--all done in a festive and international spirit. For the first time, there will be an art fair this year, and the programme includes two great concerts: singers Shishani & Karima el Fillali perform on Friday March 15, while Italian group Enrico Capuano e la Tammurriatarock and French group R.I.C. take over the stage on Saturday March 16. Luxexpo, Luxembourg-Kirchberg, www.clae.lu
Clae / Paulo Lobo
Book fair and party time
Riding camp with an edge
These days you just can’t get away with simply buying chocolate eggs at Easter. Artsy activities are a must if you want your offspring to thrive. Luckily, the Kulturhuef in Grevenmacher organises several multilingual workshops for 4 to 10 year olds, like “Merci facteur” (March 26) and “Picoto Picota” (March 27-28). Activities take place in the afternoon from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and cost €15. Kulturhuef, 54 route de Trèves, Grevenmacher, www.kulturhuef.lu
If your child is horse-interested without having gotten to the “I want one of my own” stage, he or she will probably like the camps at Liewenshaff centre, which take place during school holidays. There’s horseback riding, carriage rides, cooking and craft workshops, all in a calm and fun environment. The price is €195 for 5 days and it’s not too late to book for Easter break. Liewenshaff, Merscheid, tel. 48 08 96, email: email@example.com, www.liewenshaff.lu
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Enjoy Spring at Utopolis & Ciné Utopia! Bring your friends & family and enjoy the Easter Holidays with great movies, chocolate eggs & more… Special family price: 6,20€/ family member* • Children (under 12) 5,70€
For more information www.utopolis.lu
Coyote Café, Club 5, Subway, Meneghino, Nemo’s, McDonald’s, Tie Break Café, Q45, Paul Eischen
*At least 4 family members with a minimum of one and a maximum of two adults can benefit from this price.
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MY OTHER LIFE
Escape to nature An IT guy finds his rhythm at natur&ëmwelt. Text by Tonya Stoneman Photography by Olivier Minaire
f you drive south of the Kockelscheuer sports complex, you’ll come across the Haus vun der Natur, the house of nature, headquarters of natur&ëmwelt. Once inside the grounds you will forget the hustle and bustle of Luxembourg. Pastures of green stretch out in all directions and the sound of bird song permeates the atmosphere. The creatures here are all going through the motions of life on a farm, where the routine is natural and serene. A giant pig wallows near a small herd of pygmy goats. Roosters work their way around the yard chattering busily with the hens. A couple of donkeys graze nearby and sheep roam freely. If you follow the meandering path, you’ll pass a number of greenhouses and an impressive assortment of fauna and flora. John Park moved to Luxembourg in 2001 in order to be closer to nature, and that’s what drew him to natur&ëmwelt. “I got tired of having to take the train for an hour through London before I saw my first cow,” he says. “Now, I live in the city, but if you consider the valley, you go 500 meters before you see deer.” He works in IT in financial services, but spends most of his free time outdoors. A couple of years ago, Park volunteered for a “Fit by Nature” event at natur&ëmwelt--designed for people to offer their services doing conservation activities to preserve habitat-and that lead to a regular connection with the organisation. He spent time bird watching, observing swallows and black kites migrating, he helped keep inventory of rare apples and learned about different varieties, and he worked the garden in an effort to preserve seeds. “I was one of the few international people there,” he recalls. “And I wanted to encourage other international people to come out and lend a hand. That is when I initiated discussions to restart an English-speaking section. There’s a
diverse community in Luxembourg, and I wanted to provide them with opportunities to contribute to the preservation, protection and awareness of nature and the environment.” His goal is to bring together people who want to communicate in English and engage them in the vast array of activities at natur&ëmwelt. When asked, Park has trouble pin-pointing what he likes most about his “other life”. “I enjoy the results of our hard work and making sure other creatures are treated with respect and are taken care of,” he says. “What we’re doing with habitat conservation will indeed, over time, contribute to preserving species. It’s not obvious over a short period what the effect is, but you know that you’ve contributed.” Park grew up on a small farm in Canada, so his time at the conservatory is personal. “Going for long walks is a way to seek serenity and quiet,” he says. “There are some fantastic views, some special places in Luxembourg. The terrain is varied from north to south to east to west. We don’t all have the same interests, but there’s something for everyone. I’ve only been to the same site twice.” Currently, Park is working to translate the natur&ëmwelt website into English--and he needs volunteers. When he’s not doing that, he’s preparing to learn the art of bee-keeping. He doesn’t know how much honey the endeavour will yield, but is certain the experience will be sweet..
Getting back to nature
natur&ëmwelt offers a variety of opportunities for people with a passion for nature and its inherent interactions. A Day with Nature: guided walks with explanations in English. Learn about biodiversity and endangered species indigenous to your area. Fit by Nature: exercise naturally by working on nature sites. Your work will help with protection of habitats and the sustainable use of our natural resources. Annual Nature Festival: promoting local and organic goods and services, with vendors selling plants, trees, shrubs, etc. www.naturemwelt.lu
John Park Quietly making a difference
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