Kepler’s Visionary Outlook: Over 2,500 Guests at the JKU Ball

On Friday, January 19, over 2,500 guests at the annual JKU Ball joined the JKU in celebrating ingenuity and creativity.

This year’s JKU Ball “SOMNIUM – A Night of Dreams” revolved around Johannes Kepler’s sci-fi novel of the same name.
During his opening remarks, Rector Meinhard Lukas recalled Kepler’s ‘visionary outlook’ which is synonymous for the JKU’s aspirations and the spirit that shapes everyone affiliated with the university. Rector Lukas spoke about the university’s development plan for the next six years: “Our strategy is much more than a common denominator – it is a manifesto for the future: for our university, for our students, for our location, for this region which was recently proclaimed by the governor to be a place of opportunities.”

The Rector emphasized that the JKU does not pursue short-term trends or lose sight of the hardware despite the importance of the software, but continues to rely on comprehensive education and reflective learning instead of offering trendy classes. “More than ever, we believe in the power of universities, especially during a time when knowledge is degenerating into a fast-moving consumer good and can hardly be distinguished from ‘fake news’. We strive for innovation in teaching and research and an enduring consistency in our values.”

Glimpse into the Future, Dreamlike Lunar Beings
The JKU University Orchestra opened the ball with a specially commissioned work titled “Somnium”.  Ball guests had an opportunity to visit an exhibition about research accomplishments at the Kepler University as well as future plans at the university, including campus enhancements such as the Kepler Hall auditorium, a new digital library, a sports and recreation area, and the extension of the TN Tower, home to the Faculty of Engineering & Natural Sciences, which includes a viewing platform that will also be named after Kepler’s narrative.

This year’s theme was indeed dreamlike, particularly the midnight show featuring soprano Ilia Staple and bass-baritone Justus Seeger (State Theater in Linz) as they provided the musical background for acrobat Stefanie Millinger’s depiction of lunar being. The hand-balance artist, well known from the RTL show “Supertalent”, thrilled the audience as she seemed to defy gravity.
The JKU welcomed a number of distinguished guests of honor to this year’s ball, including Governor Thomas Stelzer, Deputy Governor Michael Strugl, PM Günther Steinkellner, Mayor Klaus Luger, Deputy Mayor Karin Hörzing, Deputy Mayor Detlef Wimmer, Councilwoman Regina Fechter, EU MP Paul Rübig and General Director Heinrich Schaller, chairman of the JKU Univery Council.

About Kepler’s Novel

Magical and dreamlike, Johannes Kepler’s narrative "Somnium" (The Dream) is widely considered to be the first work of science fiction by a scientist. The story is about a journey to the moon, traveling to strange spheres and worlds, encountering exotic animals – there is no limit to the imagination. Written in Latin in 1608, the novel was published posthumously by Kepler’s son Ludwig.  The story was partially translated into German only at the end of the 19th century. The full translation was completed only a few years ago.

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