December 9, 2019
This Thursday marks the launch of Marin Alsop’s “All Together: A Global Ode to Joy” – perhaps her most ambitious and career-defining project to date. Following Alsop’s triumph earlier this fall, when she inaugurated her tenure as the first female Chief Conductor of Austria’s ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, she now embarks on this centerpiece of her season: a yearlong, worldwide celebration of Beethoven’s 250th anniversary that not only sees the MacArthur Award-winning conductor leading ten orchestras at principal venues on six continents, but also embodies the innovative ways she consistently delivers as a leading “ambassador for classical music in the 21st century” (Financial Times). “All Together” kicks off in São Paulo, Brazil on December 12–15, 2019, and culminates in December 2020 at Carnegie Hall in New York City, marking Alsop’s fifth major collaboration with Carnegie’s Weill Music Institute, a leading partner for the project.
One of the foremost conductors of our time, Alsop has long dedicated as much creative energy to changing the face of classical music as to progressing in her own pathbreaking career. Over the past several decades, she has founded a host of change-making initiatives to broaden access to the classical world, often with special focus on underserved communities: supporting emerging young artists, promoting gender diversity, activating local audiences, creating educational and training opportunities, and relating Western concert music to other traditions and cultures. As Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony, she has founded both Rusty Musicians, which connects Baltimore’s amateur musicians with members of the orchestra, and OrchKids, a year-round after-school music program designed to foster social change. Click here to learn more about OrchKids on CBS TV’s 60 Minutes.
“All Together: A Global Ode to Joy”
The common thread running through all these initiatives is Alsop’s sheer joy in the music she loves, and the urge to share it with as wide an audience as possible. It is this that drives “All Together: A Global Ode to Joy,” her second international collaboration with Carnegie Hall. To commemorate next year’s landmark 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, the project features Alsop leading performances of the composer’s Ninth (“Choral”) Symphony – one of the crowning achievements of Western culture – with orchestras in the U.S., Australia, Austria, Brazil, China, New Zealand, South Africa and the UK. She explains:
“‘Ode to Joy’ is about standing up and being counted in this world. It’s about believing in our power as human beings. Everyone will be tied together by this experience. And I think that’s the important element – that through this project, we will bring diverse communities together, and communities who don’t normally work together.”
Taking this opportunity to reimagine Beethoven’s iconic work for 21st-century audiences, Alsop is working with contemporary writers and composers to amplify its message and relevance to each local community, before drawing on a vast number of local performers to interpret it in concert. To further extend the call for unity and solidarity embodied in Friedrich Schiller’s original Ode to Joy poem, the text will be newly translated into languages including Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese, te reo Māori and Zulu. There will be no fewer than three new English interpretations, one created for London audiences as part of a community writing project by young people from across Great Britain, one tailored to Baltimore’s vibrant multicultural community by local rapper and musician Wordsmith, and a third, created for the New York performance, by former U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith. To explore the new translations, click here.
Alsop launches the project this week (Dec 12–15), with the final concerts of her eight-year tenure as Music Director of the São Paulo Symphony, where she will subsequently serve as Conductor of Honor. Held at the iconic Sala São Paulo in the heart of the city, the opening performance is scheduled to stream live on the orchestra’s website and social media channels and to be shared on Carnegie Hall’s Facebook page. To connect the movements of Beethoven’s symphony, the program will feature traditional and contemporary music exploring Brazilian current affairs at the time of its composition, and addressing the country’s legacy of slavery.
Additional new commissions supporting local composers will supplement each program on the tour. With the Baltimore Symphony (June 2020), where Alsop is now in her 13th season as Music Director, Beethoven’s masterpiece will be juxtaposed with music by members of OrchKids and other local artists, and a new commission from Indian-American composer and 2019 United States Artists Fellow Reena Esmail. With the China NCPA Orchestra & Chorus in Beijing (Sep 2020), the program will feature music commissioned from Huang Ruo, “one of the world’s leading young composers” (New Yorker). Further new commissions from New Zealand and British composers will be heard between the work’s movements with the New Zealand Symphony (July & Aug 2020) and at the Southbank Centre with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain (April 2020), respectively. To celebrate Australia’s rich indigenous heritage, the Ninth Symphony will be heard alongside music from the country’s First Nations in concerts with the Sydney Symphony (Aug 2020).
Local artists, many of them very young, will be involved in the project at every stage. Choristers from Sydney’s community choirs will join the Sydney Symphony onstage, while members of local township-based choirs will perform with the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic in South Africa, where Alsop also looks forward to collaborating with the Johannesburg Philharmonic (Nov 2020). Young people will anchor the concerts at London’s Royal Festival Hall as members of the orchestra and singers in the choir. The New Zealand Symphony will appear alongside local youth and school choirs, and the Beijing performances will provide a springboard for study projects at local schools. The Carnegie Hall performance (Dec 2020) will feature an orchestra of emerging young artists, a 250-voice choir comprising singers of all ages from the five New York City boroughs, and four stellar vocal soloists: Golda Schultz, J’Nai Bridges, Sunnyboy Dladla, and Ryan Speedo Green. New music inspired by the “Ode to Joy,” written by New Yorkers through programs created by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, will be featured between each of the movements of Beethoven’s Ninth. Children of Superar, an educational initiative from Vienna’s Favoriten district, will take part in Alsop’s performances with the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra (Oct 2020), when Beethoven’s “Choral” Symphony returns to the city where it first premiered almost 200 years ago.
Triumph in Vienna
Already the first woman to serve as the head of a major orchestra in the United States, South America and Britain, Alsop added Austria to the list just last month, when she launched her tenure as Chief Conductor of the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony. To open the orchestra’s landmark 50th anniversary season, she led a program pairing works by Hindemith with Rapture by her late friend and colleague, Christopher Rouse, and the world premiere of a new commission from award-winning Russian-American composer Lera Auerbach. The audience and critical response was euphoric. As the Wiener Zeitung put it,
“Magic. … The chemistry seems right. … The first work could not have been better chosen: Rapture … recalls a fresh spring morning – the promising beginning of something exciting, big. In addition, Alsop’s abilities as an orchestra leader came to light: passion, clarity, concentrated tension and a tangible presence in the here and now. … The committed cooperation between the conductor and well-disposed orchestra was felt right down to the back rows of the hall.”
Click here to download high-resolution photos.
Marin Alsop leads “All Together: A Global Ode to Joy”
Beethoven: Symphony No. 9, “Choral”
With new translations and additional music
Dec 12, 2019–Dec 6, 2020
São Paulo, Brazil
Dec 12-15, 2019
São Paulo Symphony Orchestra (final concert as Principal Conductor)
Featuring new Brazilian Portuguese adaptation by Arthur Nestrovski
April 16 & 18, 2020
Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre
National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain
With Nadine Benjamin, soprano; Catriona Morison, mezzo-soprano; Oliver Johnston tenor; Simon Shibambu, bass-baritone
Featuring new English adaptation by young people from across Great Britain through a process led by poet Anthony Anaxagorou
June 11–14, 2020
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (as Music Director)
Featuring new English translation by Wordsmith, new arrangement of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson, Ode to Joy by Reena Esmail and newly commissioned interludes by artists from Baltimore’s rich musical community, including students from the acclaimed BSO OrchKids program.
Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand
July 26, 28
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
Featuring new te reo Māori translation and newly commissioned pieces by New Zealand composers
Aug 7–9, 2020
Sydney Symphony Orchestra
Sydney Philharmonia Choirs
Featuring music from Australia’s First Nations and newly commissioned interludes by Australian composers
Sep 20, 2020
China’s National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing
China NCPA Orchestra and Chorus
Featuring Chinese translation and newly commissioned music by Huang Ruo
Oct 16, 2020
ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra (as Chief Conductor)
Featuring children of Superar
Johannesburg, South Africa
Nov 18 & 19, 2020
Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra
Featuring new Zulu translation
Durban, South Africa
Nov 22, 2020
KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra
With members of township-based choirs
Featuring new Zulu translation
New York, NY
Dec 6, 2020
Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage)
With Golda Schultz, soprano; J’Nai Bridges, mezzo-soprano; Sunnyboy Dladla, tenor; Ryan Speedo Green, bass-baritone
Featuring new adaptation by Tracy K. Smith
# # #
© 21C Media Group, December 2019