Beethoven looked outside of himself. Profoundly deaf when he composed the Ninth, he wrote a work that starts in lonely darkness and ends up embracing the world, the brotherhood of mankind.
The “Ode to Joy” finale is the first time a symphony included voices. “Oh friends,” it begins, the soloist addressing the audience directly, the orchestra parting the waters for his entrance. The joy of life is what chorus and soloists sing about (in Schiller’s words) and that joy comes from friendship, “a gracious wife,” community. “Be embraced, you millions!” everyone sings. “This kiss for the entire world!”
Beethoven’s crowning achievement, the epic and exquisite Symphony No. 9, “Choral”—featuring the soul-stirring “Ode to Joy,” which has thrilled listeners around the world for nearly two centuries—brings Pacific Symphony’s 2011-12 classical season to a memorable close. The concert, led by Music Director Carl St.Clair, features a monumental union of orchestra and voices that includes Pacific Chorale and four world-class opera singers—soprano Kelley Nassief; mezzo-soprano Susana Poretsky; tenor Chad Shelton; and bass Kevin Deas—who take on the florid and challenging solo passages in the fourth movement.
Taking place Thursday-Sunday, May 31, June 1-3, at 8 p.m., in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, this concert is also part of the Symphony’s Music Unwound series and includes a display of Beethoven-inspired artwork by local artists. A preview talk by composer Ticheli begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25-$110; for more info or to purchase tickets, call (714) 755-5799 or visit www.PacificSymphony.org.
For a complete line-up of events taking place for “Beethoven’s Ninth: Inside and Out,” read all about it HERE.