In Sorrow, an Ode to Joy

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On Saturday, Sept. 11, the Pacific Symphony will present an evening that will be a celebration of American heroism and acknowledgement of the sacrifices made by our heroes, culminating in a performance of Beethoven’s stirring and redeeming Ninth Symphony.

More than 100 singers from a dozen Orange County choruses unite to give voice to Beethoven’s crowning achievement for the symphony’s final concert of its Summer Festival 2010, sponsored by Hoag Hospital.

Led by guest conductor Robert Moody, this monumental fusion of soloists, chorus and music—all set to Schiller’s “Ode to Joy”— will feature four world-class opera singers who will take on the florid and challenging solo passages in the fourth movement of the Ninth: Tracy Dahl, soprano; Rita Litchfield, mezzo-soprano; Gaston Rivera, tenor; and Troy Cook, baritone.

Also on the program are soul-stirring American favorites, in honor of the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and the courageous men and women who served their country that day: Gould’s “American Salute,” Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” (famously featured in the movie “Platoon”), and Ward’s “America the Beautiful.”

“Pacific Symphony contacted me and inquired of my interest to lead a 9/11 program that would culminate in the Beethoven Ninth Symphony,” recalls Maestro

Moody, who will make his debut with Pacific Symphony in this concert. “I immediately said, ‘Yes,’ as this is a perfect piece for the occasion.

“We open the concert with Morton Gould’s ‘American Salute,’ a fiery orchestral work, full of great energy; the work is based on the Civil War era tune ‘When Johnny Comes Marching Home.’ Next we offer a work which gives us a chance to reflect, mourn, and remember those who lost their lives on that day…in the Barber ‘Adagio for Strings.’ This is the work performed at the funerals of two U.S. presidents [Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Kennedy], and was performed by the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Ground Zero just a few weeks after the attack.

“The first half ends with the most stirring version of ‘America the Beautiful’ that I know.

“The ‘Ode to Joy’ is the ultimate expression of the triumph of good, human kindness, and universal love over any force of darkness. What better day to celebrate these ideas than on 9/11? We remember the horrible day in 2001; we mourn for the loss. But most importantly, we refuse to be defeated by evil.”

Symphony No. 9, “Choral,” is the final complete symphony of Beethoven. Written in 1824, it is one of the best-known works of the Western classical repertoire, and has been adapted for use as the European Anthem. The symphony is considered one of Beethoven’s masterpieces and one of the greatest musical compositions ever written. It’s also the first example of a major composer using voices in a symphony. The words are sung during the final movement by four vocal soloists and a chorus. They were taken from the “Ode to Joy,” a poem written by Friedrich Schiller in 1785 and revised in 1803, with additions made by the composer.

“The chorus for Beethoven’s Ninth will be a community chorus made up of singers from all segments of our population,” says Eileen Jeanette, the Symphony’s vice president of artistic and orchestra operations. “We know that there was no one who wasn’t affected by 9/11 and this chorus will be put together to reflect the great diversity of our community.”

The choruses for Beethoven’s Ninth are coming from all over

Orange County and include: California State University, Fullerton University Singers; Irvine Chinese Chorus; Long Beach Camarata Singers; Pacific Chorale; Orange County Women’s Chorus; Men Alive; Sarang Community Church Choir; and the Orange County Friendship Chorus.

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