On Tuesday last week, the European School Munich celebrated the farewell of its director Rudolph Ensing with a big benefit concert. After nine years as head of the school, Mr Ensing will retire after this school year. On this occasion he wished for a concert. At the last point - or better: at the exclamation point! – of his career once again a stage should be given for European diversity and the social dimension of the school. A wish that the music department and the organisers of the evening were very happy to fulfil.
It should be an emotional evening, an evening of music, but also of speeches. For Rudolph Ensing it was one of his last public appearances as ESM Director and of course he had the first word: "To work and live with all of you has really been a privilege and a pleasure for me". He looked back not only on "nine wonderful years in a host country where I feel at home", but on the many stages of his career, from teacher to inspector to his work in Munich. He began his work here with a few ideals in mind: His aim was to promote a positive school climate, pan-European diversity, pedagogical quality and social commitment. The words of greeting in the course of the evening proved that Rudolph Ensing achieved much of this and above all lived all these values.
But first to the music. "As you know, singing is the mother tongue of all people," Ensing lead over. It showed how versatile and talented the choirs and orchestras of the European School Munich are. For example, the Primary School choir of the European Hours sang "Love is All You Need". The junior choir of the Secondary School performed Karl Jenkins' "Adiemus", with the fantasy syllables of the lyrics an understanding for the language is no longer necessary. The Orchestra and concert choir of the Secondary School could convince with classical opera like Georges Bizet's "Carmen" as well as with Lady Gaga's pop music.
In between the music contributions, Rudolph Ensing's companions and professional partners said goodbye. Jessica Kikken from the Dutch delegation of the Board of Governors of the European Schools was the first one to speak. The outgoing director is "a man of his word, in many languages, a gentleman in his diplomacy," she said, praising in particular his unshakable optimism, which not even the rain in The Hague could cloud. On behalf of the European Patent Office, Maria Castellanos thanked Rudolph Ensing for the 9 years of professional cooperation and paid special tribute to his commitment to European values, his interest in putting in place new quality initiatives and his sincere interest in the school ethos and climate. Jean-Luc Depuis, Chairman of the Parents' Association, will also keep Ensing in good memory.
An emotional highlight was the speech by Anton Hrovath, director of the Secondary School. He rememberd Rudolph Ensing's warm greetings every morning at the school entrance. What surprised Hrovath was that it only took two words to make everyone feel welcome: The salutation “Liebe alle” – “Dear all”. “These words express your way of thinking, feeling, all your beliefs of school, of school community, school climate and of human beings as such," Anton Hrovath said to his colleague, “It is your spirit, which will definitely last and be continued”. Therefore, Rudolph Ensing's "Liebe alle" will be literally carved in stone and continue to greet people in the school foyer.
The director of the Nursery and Primary school Dr. Alexia Giannakopoulou also spoke to the heart. She recalled how many lives of students and colleagues Ensing has influenced in the course of his working life. "In your daily life, you demonstrate that despite our differences, we have the capacity to see each other in ourselves," she said to him, "You teach love and respect and kindness for the school community, and a sense that we’re all in this together, with obligations to each other.” She promised that the school will continue to follow his example. A good week after the benefit concert, it is now clear that there will be a personal continuity: Anton Hrovath will follow Rudolph Ensing as Director ESM beginning next school year.
After the performance of the Chamber Choir of the Secondary School, guests who have travelled a long way, Takaya Urakawa on the violin and Mizuko Uchida on the piano, paid tribute to director Ensing with a beautiful interpretation of the Irish farewell song "Londonderry Air" amongst others. The combined ESM ensemble with pupils of all ages surprised by deviating from the programme and performing the benediction song "God be with you till we meet again" to its director in his native Dutch: Ga met God en Hij zal met je zijn.
Finally, the musicians also fulfilled Rudolph Ensing’s personal song wish, Mark Hayes' "Ubuntu". Ubuntu describes a South African philosophy, Ensing already explained in his speech at the beginning: "In a nutshell it means: A person is a person by, and because of, other people". Alone nobody could be human. "I am me because of you, and you are you because of me," the song says. Ubuntu could not only be the headline for this evening when the outgoing director celebrated once again in the community of his school. The word also stands for his solidarity with the people beyond the school and beyond Europe. The concert took place for the benefit of the South African organization "Infinite Family". This organization supports the education of socially disadvantaged children, among other things through a mentoring program, and Rudolph Ensing has been associated with it for a long time. Due to the generosity of the audience, about 3500 Euro in donations for "Infinite Family" will be collected this evening.
The farewell, impressive in its musical and human qualities, ended with standing ovations for Rudolph Ensing. The European School Munich will remain close to him and wishes its director that he will not miss his school too much during his retirement.