It would take him about 30 years to finally do it, but Beethoven is said to have known he’d write music for Friedrich Schiller’s “Ode to Joy” as soon as he read it in 1793. It would be his last complete symphony, and would cement his place in history as the first major composer to use voices in an orchestral symphony. Its highs are unbelievably high: galloping three-beat patterns, gigantic expressions of triumph befitting the text from which it sprung:
“Be embraced, Millions!
This kiss to all the world!
Brothers, above the starry canopy, there must dwell a loving Father.
Are you collapsing, millions?
Do you sense the creator, world?”
(EDM DJs, where y’at with some bass-forward remixes?) The audience went berserk, applauding during the middle sections and giving five standing ovations. Beethoven was, by this time, too deaf to hear them, but was turned around by his colleagues on stage so that he could see the elation he’d inspired.
Arkansas Symphony Orchestra performs the august work in partnership with the Central Arkansas Library System, who with the ASO selected several spoken word performers to take the stage and read pieces themed on joy, unity and hope as part of the concert. Soloists Maria Fasciano, Christin Marie-Hill, Vernon Di Carlo and Adam Cioffari join spoken word artists Osyrus Bolly, Brooke Elliott, Rosslyn Elliott, Red Hawk, Kristy Ikanih, Jamee McAdoo, Dariane LyJoi Mull, Marvin Schwartz and Shiseido Wells on stage alongside the ASO.
Get tickets at arkansassymphony.org.