The Slovenia Times

Starry Starry Night



The first of this year's delights was the venue: Kino Šiška, with its modern, spacious and accessible hall in the heart of Ljubljana, was the perfect spot for such a wonderful evening. The second treat: it is safe to say this year's event brought with it the most entertaining on-stage candidate presentation ever, thanks to interviews by host Igor E. Bergant, otherwise known as a sports journalist and editor for RTV Slovenia. Bergant's interviews provoked many interesting and above all humorous reactions from the guests as he challenged them to comment on the newborn football superpower - Slovenia - on its way to the World Cup.

To add to the special occasion, there was an interesting dance performance by Igen, live music by a string "Inquartet", and outstanding catering by Vivo featuring a delicious bograč goulash. Cognac as a digestive and... see you next year! This would be an accurate summary of the event. But it would leave out the biggest stars of the event - the Guest Stars or, to put it another way, the most remarkable foreign personalities in Slovenia.

Diplomacy - a tight result

The diplomatic candidates suggested that Slovenians regard the European Union as their "home-country", as this time all of the nominees came from non-EU countries. The candidates' diplomatic skills were further tested by Bergant, who was unable to resist having a good-natured dig at candidates for their countries' World Cup non-qualifications. But all was taken in good humour and all diplomats on stage agreed that Slovenia finally has something to offer to the likes of India and China - lessons in football.

The vote count was tight but finally pointed to His Excellency Dr Villur Sundararajan Seshadri, Ambassador of India.

It is of course worth pointing out that, regardless of the category and winner, a nomination in itself constituted important recognition. The Guest Star awards were faced with the classical dilemma of all similar campaigns: should a committee make the decision as to winners, or should it be left to a popular vote. Either option had its own pros and cons, so the committee found an optimal solution - it chose the nominees, but the popular vote determined the winners.

Economy - it all stays in the Mediterranean

While diplomacy presented us with a set of ambassadors, economy candidates came with more variety in their titles: a self-made entrepreneur, a multinational representative, a foreign joint company manager and a commerce chamber director. Gender-wise, this category was totally equal, unlike the male dominated political category.

The winner Bahaa Abdallah, an Egyptian by origin, has proven both the importance of his work in one of Slovenia's hi-tech companies as well as the loyalty of his subordinates.

Culture - two Juliets and an absent Romeo

It is common for people in entertainment to work in the evenings, so it is understandable that half of cultural nominees were absent. Absent was the male half, to be exact, since we had two men and two women in this category, too. While it was nice to see two elegant ladies sharing the stage the prize was ultimately awarded to a man. Ballet dancer Lukas Suschlag was, at the time of his win, rehearsing for a stage performance and so unable to collect his prize personally. But this Romeo materialised in time for the after party, hurrying to Kino Šiška from a dress rehearsal to catch some of the banquet.

Sports - the art of Coaching

The category of sports presented us with three coaches, and a female athlete. Two candidates were involved in winter sports, two in ball games. Although all of them represent successful, winning stories, the award winner did not come as a surprise. Ivan Hudač, the coach of the Olympic heroine Petra Majdič, stands behind the most outstanding achievement Slovenes witnessed in sports in recent years. Hudač didn't miss the opportunity to say his award is actually a shared achievement of the entire team.

As the formal part of the evening concluded with an invitation to the glorious "Let's clean Slovenia in one day" campaign and a closing speech from Slovenia Times chief executive Brane Krajnik, guests and the stars moved into the Kino Šiška lobby. There they enjoyed some of the finest food and wine, supplied by Vivo catering and the selected wine makers: Kabaj, Miro Vino and Dveri Pax.

As this night of stars drew to a close, attendees took with them a host of wonderful memories - and high expectations for next year's event.

Dr. Villur S. Seshadri, Ambassador of India to Slovenia

Guest Star 2009 in Diplomacy

I accept the award as a great honour and a matter of satisfaction. In some ways, I also think it reflects the keen interest there is in Slovenia in strengthening ties with India by engaging in more trade and commerce and in having greater cultural and educational exchanges. I must also add here that the award would not have been possible to achieve without team support from my colleagues at the Embassy and from my wife who has been a key source of strength.

As for the event itself, I thought it was well presented with music, dance and some humour thrown in. You also managed to keep the element of surprise about names of winners almost till the end.

Bahaa Abdallaha, CEO of Iskraemeco

Guest Star 2009 in Economy

Personally the nomination itself came as a surprise. Last year, when I was invited to the Guest Star 2008 award ceremony as a company representative, I didn't dare to think I would be standing on the stage the next year and even less that I would take the award in my category. The award means a great deal to me and makes me very proud.

I have been living in Slovenia for more than two years now and I have attended some events organised by The Slovenia Times. My impressions are consistently very positive. I like the sense of difference given at these events, as well as the careful selection of hosts. This year in particular it was a very good idea to invite all the nominees to a lunch where we could meet in person and share our views, experience and ideas.

Lukas Zuschlag, ballet dancer

Guest Star 2009 in Culture

I was very happy to win this award. Considering that the winners were chosen by internet voting, I guess it shows that people appreciate and like my work here, and I think that is the nicest award an artist can get.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to join the award ceremony due to a rehearsal, but was very happy though that Mr Bervar went to receive the award in my name and brought it to me directly afterwards at Cankarjev dom. Getting there as fast as I could after my rehearsal, I didn't catch much of the ceremony, but I think people did a very nice job as everything looked very classy but not too formal.

Ivan Hudač, cross-country ski coach

Guest Star 2009 in Sports

The Guest Star award is a great and somewhat unexpected honour from the committee and the people who have voted for me. At the same time it is a great stimulation for my work in the future. As a coach of top athletes you are sometimes faced with doubts whether your way is right and when a hosting country expresses such a confirmation [of your approach], you feel very welcome and encouraged. The entire event was a very positive experience. I had the chance to meet people who each are successful experts in their fields yet who are very nice and accessible. Personally I felt very relaxed.

New Kids on the Block - In Quartet

The audience of Guest Star 2009 had a chance to enjoy the perfomance of musicians, who merge the piquancy of modern pop with classical tunes of string quartet.

Slovenian musical arena has recently welcomed a new music band, a string quartet to be exact, which presents itself with the name of In Quartet. It can praise itself with four young academic musicians which have gathered together to offer a new kind of musical selection. In addition to the classics, fiery tango or well known movie songs they also play pop and rock anthems and the newest hits from the music charts, all in a classical string quartet realisation.

The quartet includes three violins and a cello, their virtuosos being Valentin Štante, Anja Čretnik-Videmšek and a Russian artist Inga Ulokina on violin and a cello player Marko Kragelnik. Despite their age - they are all under 30 years old - they can already pride themselves with striking careers. They have all studied under the guide of most illustrious musical personas and now regularly attend several national as well as international music contests, often bringing home the highest of both awards and praises.

The band proffers an excellent musical entertainment at various cultural events, conferences, business meetings, wedding receptions, private parties and other occasions. Hearing them you will be able to sway to the tunes of Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, Queen, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Madonna, Sting and many more in the original arrangement for an academic string quartet. Your next chance to hear them is on June 16, 2010 in Botanični vrt (Botanic Garden) in Maribor.


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