LSM Newswire

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Beethovenĺ─˘s Symphony No. 9 ĺ─˛Ode to Joyĺ─˘

Vancouver, BC ĺ─ý Beethovenĺ─˘s Symphony No. 9 was his final complete symphony, and arguably the greatest piece of music ever written. The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra presents this epic piece along with Beethovenĺ─˘s Ah, Perfido! and Fidelio: Overture on January 2nd and 4th at 8pm at the Orpheum Theatre. Maestro Bramwell Tovey conducts a concert that features soprano Joni Henson, mezzo-soprano Norine Burgess, tenor Michael Colvin, baritone Greg Dahl and the Vancouver Bach Choir.

Truly one of the most profound creations of the human mind, Beethoven's Ninth is always fresh and current, and always the most inspiring, uplifting and joyful concert experience one can hope to have. The Ode to Joy also makes a particularly significant prelude to Vancouver's 2010 Winter Olympic Games, and rings in the new decade with a message of hope, joy and brotherhood.

Composed over a ten-month period in 1823/1824, the Ninth was Beethovenĺ─˘s last symphony, a genre he had not written in for ten years. And as much as the Ninth is seen as being revolutionary, and in many ways it is, much of the work harks back to styles and influences of Beethovenĺ─˘s past. Even the famous final melody was an earlier creation, dating to 1794 in the guise of a song called ĺ─˛Gegenliebeĺ─˘ (Mutual Love), then used again by Beethoven as the principal theme of the 1808 ĺ─˛Choral Fantasiaĺ─˘ before finding its apotheosis as the choral finale of the Ninth. The truly revolutionary aspect of the Ninth was the addition of solo vocalists and a choir to the final movement. This had not been done before to any effect, and changed music forever. The choral finale of the Ninth is also no mere added bauble ĺ─ý it brings the work together with Beethovenĺ─˘s musical setting of Frederick Schillerĺ─˘s ode, ĺ─˛To Joyĺ─˘, a poem Beethoven had long desired to set to music (in fact, it seems Beethoven did manage to set the entire poem to music as he wanted to, but the work was tragically lost). The aggressive, operatic choral writing adds weight and brilliance to the conclusion, giving the words a profound credibility.

The Ninth is, in a very real sense, a musical and metaphorical journey, the centerpiece of which is a struggle for D minor to find its way to D Major, reflecting a very human struggle to overcome the troubles of the world with peace, and enter into the fields of Elysium. D Major ultimately finds its way, after being thwarted and parried and teased throughout, bursting forth triumphantly in the final movement in stunning fashion, heralding the arrival of the people into Elysium. The choral finale is of course the most famous part of the piece, and rightly so ĺ─ý it is a magnificent statement of hope, happiness and friendship, as well as a powerful, dramatic and joyful end to a musical journey, a musical career, and, in many ways, a musical life.


PricewaterhouseCoopers Masterworks Silver Series

Saturday and Monday, January 2 & 4, 8pm, Orpheum Theatre

Beethovenĺ─˘s Ode to Joy

Bramwell Tovey, conductor

Joni Henson, soprano

Norine Burgess, mezzo-soprano

Michael Colvin, tenor

Greg Dahl, baritone

Vancouver Bach Choir

Beethoven Fidelio: Overture

Beethoven Ah, Perfido!

Beethoven Symphony No. 9 in D minor

Visit Joni Henson at:

Visit Norine Burgess at:

Visit Michael Colvin at:

Visit Greg Dahl at:

Visit the Vancouver Bach Choir at:

Series Sponsor: PricewaterhouseCoopers

Video Screen Sponsor: TELUS

Special Video Screen Presentations Created and Produced by: Columbia Academy

Tickets: $25 - $78.50 (senior, student and subscriber discounts available)

Tickets available online at or by calling VSO customer service at 604.876.3434


Bramwell Tovey, conductor

A musician of striking versatility, Bramwell Tovey is acknowledged around the world for his artistic depth and his warm, charismatic personality on the podium. Toveyĺ─˘s career as a conductor is uniquely enhanced by his work as a composer and pianist, lending him a remarkable musical perspective. His tenures as music director with the Vancouver Symphony, Luxembourg Philharmonic and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestras have been characterized by his expertise in operatic, choral, British and contemporary repertoire.

He continues as Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, and as founding host and conductor of the New York Philharmonicĺ─˘s Summertime Classics series at Avery Fisher Hall. An esteemed guest conductor, Tovey has worked with orchestras in Europe and the UK including the London Philharmonic, London Symphony, Frankfurt Radio and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestras. This season, Tovey returns to the Ulster and Helsingborg Orchestras having made his successful debut in 2008/09 and to Opera North and Trondheim Symphony. He makes his debut with Bergen Philharmonic in 2009/10 and will also return to Melbourne as curator of the contemporary Metropolis Festival in summer 2010 and to the main subscription season in autumn 2011. That season, he will also conduct the Sydney Symphony Orchestra for the first time. In North America, along with his work with the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics, Tovey has made guest appearances with the orchestras of Baltimore, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Seattle, Montreal as well as ongoing performances with Toronto, where he conducts each season.

With a profound commitment to new music, Tovey has established himself as a formidable composer and is the first artist to win a Juno Award in both conducting and composing. He has been commissioned by the Calgary Opera to compose the companyĺ─˘s third original full-length opera.

He has also recorded several DVDs, of works including Holstĺ─˘s The Planets Suite with distinguished guests such as percussionist Evelyn Glennie, among many others.



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