On May 5th, Music Director Harvey Felder will lead the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra, Tacoma Symphony Chorus and an all-star cast of vocal soloists – soprano Amber Sudduth Bone, mezzo-soprano Kathryn Weld, tenor Stephen Rumph, and bass-baritone Barry Johnson – in the monumental Symphony No. 9 “Choral” by Ludwig van Beethoven, marking the finale of the TSO’s 65th anniversary season.
The greatest of all classical-romantic symphonies, Beethoven’s “Choral” Symphony features the famous “Ode to Joy,” based on a text by Friedrich Schiller. The work was the final symphony of the great 19th-century composer, and the first time that a chorus was utilized in a symphony.
Beethoven was completely deaf by the time of its composition and premiere in 1824. According to violinist Joseph Böhm, “Beethoven directed the piece himself; that is, he stood before the lectern and gesticulated furiously. At times he rose, at other times he shrank to the ground, he moved as if he wanted to play all the instruments himself and sing for the whole chorus.” Upon the piece’s conclusion, the audience broke out into wild applause. Because Beethoven could not hear, the contralto Caroline Unger walked over and turned him around so that he could see their enthusiastic response.
Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony has become a seminal piece of music and part of Western culture. Recently adopted as the European Anthem, the entire symphony was famously performed by an international orchestra, led by Leonard Bernstein, in 1989 to mark the destruction of the Berlin Wall. It is so central to world culture that it actually influenced the development of Sony’s compact disc; CD inventor Norio Ohga insisted that CDs be made long enough to accommodate the entire 74-minute work.
The concert will open with Voices Shouting Out, by the groundbreaking American composer Nkeiru Okoye, who wrote the work late in 2001 to honor the memory of her fellow New Yorkers who died on September 11. This will be followed by Johann Strauss’s Voices of Spring waltz.
Who: Tacoma Symphony Orchestra
What: Beethoven’s 9th Symphony
Where: Pantages Theater, 901 Broadway, Tacoma
When: Saturday, May 5, 7:30 pm
Tickets: $12 to $62, call 253-591-5894 or 800-291-7593 or visit www.tacomasymphony.org.
The Tacoma Arts Commission is proud to support the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra through the Arts Anchor Fund. KeyBank, Moss Adams Wealth Advisors, and Seneschal Advisors LLC have joined forces to sponsor the event.