Live Arts Maryland closes the 2015-2016 season with a bang! The Annapolis Chorale and Annapolis Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Music Director J. Ernest Green, perform Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor on Saturday, April 9, at 8 p.m. at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Annapolis. Joining the Chorale for these performances are soprano Kimberly Christie, mezzo Catrin Davies, tenor J Austin Bitner and baritone David Murray.
The world was introduced to this remarkable work, which is Beethoven’s final symphony, on May 7, 1824. Today, it’s one of the best-known and most recognizable works of music ever written. Longer and more complex than other symphonies written at the time, the Ninth Symphony’s most unusual feature is the celebrated fourth movement, which includes chorus and vocal soloists. Beethoven was the first major composer to add this feature to an orchestral symphony.
The final movement sets Friedrich Schiller’s poem “Ode to Joy” to music. Beethoven well knew the poem celebrating theme of universal brotherhood and wanted to use it for many years, but it wasn’t until he composed his final symphony that he found the perfect music. “Ode to Joy” is now one of the most recognized and celebrated melodies in all of music and is the official anthem of the European Union. It also turns up in popular culture around the world, including the film “Sister Act II.”
“Programming this piece is always a momentous decision for any conductor” says Mr. Green. “The demands it places on everyone on stage, singers and orchestra alike, are extreme and push them to their limits. In many ways it’s like a musical Mount Everest! But I feel this is a piece we need to do now. Beethoven’s setting of Schiller’s poem is as appropriate today as it was when it was written. The line from the text ‘All men shall become brothers’ (Alle Mensches werden Brüder) is incredibly apt today! It’s musical journey that is unlike any other, especially when you hear it live.”
By the premiere of this symphony, Beethoven was almost entirely deaf. Even so, as the composer of the work, he led the performance. One musician present wrote, “He stood in front of the conductor’s stand and threw himself back and forth like a madman…. He flailed about with his hands and feet as though he wanted to play all the instruments and sing all the chorus parts.” Sadly, he couldn’t hear the cheers and applause of the audience when the performance was over.
Tickets for Saturday’s season finale are on sale now and are $40 for adults, $12 for students. There is a $5 per-ticket service charge for individual tickets. They are available online at www.liveartsmaryland.org and through the Maryland Hall Box Office at 410-280-5640 or www.marylandhall.org. Live Arts Maryland offers free tickets for both performances to students through its Student Rush program.
The Annapolis Chorale and Annapolis Chamber Orchestra are presented by Live Arts Maryland, one of the region’s largest and most active non-profit arts organizations dedicated to enhancing community life by performing and presenting high-quality music and providing music education for all ages. Live Arts Maryland is also home to the Annapolis Chamber Orchestra, the Chamber Chorus, Cantori and St. Anne’s Concert Series. The Annapolis Chorale is a resident company of Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts and is supported by the Maryland State Arts Council, the Arts Council of Anne Arundel County and the City of Annapolis.