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All Together: A Global Ode to Joy

Marin Alsop Launches Year-Long Worldwide Project With Four Performances in São Paulo from December 12–15 Marking Her Final Concerts as Chief Conductor of São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and Start of Her Tenure as Orchestra’s Conductor of Honor

Maestra Alsop To Lead Renowned Orchestras Across Six Continents In Performances of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Music From Each Local Community, Culminating at Carnegie Hall in December 2020

Creative Work Kicks Off in New York City, Inspired By New Adaptation of “Ode to Joy” by Former US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith

(New York, NY, November 21, 2019)—Conductor Marin Alsop leads the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra (OSESP) in four performances from December 12–15, launching the ambitious worldwide All Together: A Global Ode to Joy project. These concerts are the first of a range of performances including Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony to be led by the visionary conductor across six continents from December 2019 to December 2020 during the 250th anniversary celebration of the composer’s birth.

All Together: A Global Ode to Joy recasts Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony as a 21st-century call for unity, justice, and empowerment, presenting a rare opportunity for major musical institutions to join in a global conversation as part of a common project. Each partner will work with Ms. Alsop to reimagine the concert experience for their own community, incorporating newly created music alongside the symphony and featuring artists from their own region. In each performance, the ”Ode to Joy” will be adapted or translated anew into a local language. From December 2019 through December 2020, concerts will be presented in São Paulo, Brazil; London, England; New York, New York, USA; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; major centers of New Zealand; Sydney, Australia; Beijing, China; Vienna, Austria; and Durban and Johannesburg, South Africa.

When the project was first announced this year, Ms. Alsop said, “Beethoven was all about love and joy and celebrating the essence of what it is to be human and what it is to be connected. That’s why we’re launching this project. We want to throw the doors to our concert halls wide open, saying ‘everyone owns this piece, everyone owns this idea, everyone is welcome, and together we’re much stronger.’”

All Together: São Paulo

The São Paulo concerts—marking Ms. Alsop’s last as Chief Conductor of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and launching her role as Conductor of Honor—will feature traditional and contemporary music performed between the movements of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and a new text of ”Ode to Joy,” translated into Brazilian Portuguese by Arthur Nestrovski, artistic director of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra. The performances explore the legacy of slavery in Brazil from the 19th century to the present, drawing a parallel between the time period during which Beethoven composed his Ninth Symphony and the current affairs of Brazil in that same era.

Joining OSESP on stage at Sala São Paulo for the four concerts are members of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra Choir, OSESP Academic Choir, and The São Paulo State Youth Choir. The first concert on Thursday, December 12 will be streamed live as part of a “Digital Concert Hall” broadcast available on OSESP’s website and social media channels, as well as Carnegie Hall’s Facebook page. Before that event, approximately 400 adult amateur singers perform the last movement in the new Brazilian translation during an open reading on December 8. 

In preparation for the December concerts, more than 22,000 students across São Paulo have been engaging with ”Ode to Joy” through OSESP’s school programs and learning about Beethoven’s life and music, as well as the events of Brazil’s history during his lifetime.

All Together: New York City

In New York City, creative work has begun, inspired by a new adaptation of the “Ode to Joy” text by former US Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winner Tracy K. Smith. Ms. Smith, who has authored four award winning books of poetry as well as the critically acclaimed memoir Ordinary Light, has reimagined Friedrich Schiller’s original poem as a contemporary meditation on community, politics, and spirit. Music educators, teaching artists, young musicians, and students from around New York City who take part in a variety of programs created by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute are writing and workshopping original songs inspired by Ms. Smith’s poem in preparation for their works to be performed on Sunday, April 5, 2020 in Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall with mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato and members of Ensemble Connect conducted by James Ross. The creative work kicked off earlier this year with a workshop hosted by Ross in Carnegie Hall’s Resnick Education Wing with other music educators, teaching artists, and musicians from Ensemble Connect. View this video for Mr. Ross’s thoughts on what makes Beethoven relevant for today’s listeners.

Ms. Smith’s poem will also be featured during the culminating concert of the All Together global project on Sunday, December 6, 2020 in Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage. Rooted in the vibrancy of New York City and connecting to each of the global sites, the concert will showcase performers of all ages and guest artists from across genres, backed by a 250-voice choir made up of singers from across the city. The featured guest vocalists for this performance will include soprano Golda Schultz, mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges, tenor Sunnyboy Dladla, and baritone Ryan Speedo Green.

All Together: London

In spring 2020, London’s Southbank Centre joins the All Together project with a 350-person choir performing a new English interpretation of the famous Schiller text as part of “Beyond Beethoven 9” on Thursday, April 16 and Saturday, April 18, 2020. The choir is composed of youth ensembles including Only Boys Aloud, Finchley Children’s Music Group, the Lister Community School, Kaos Signing Choir, and adult groups including the London Philharmonic Choir and The Bach Choir, along with individuals selected through audition. Joining the choir on stage are Southbank Centre’s Associate Orchestra the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and vocal soloists including soprano Nadine Benjamin, mezzo-soprano Catriona Morison, tenor Oliver Johnston, and bass-baritone Simon Shibambu. Also participating are a number of youth groups, including jazz music education and artist development organization, Tomorrow’s Warriors, and music and dance performance group, Kinetika Bloco. In total nearly 500 performers will fill the Royal Festival Hall stage for the event, led by conductor Marin Alsop.

Bill Barclay is directing the Southbank Centre production, working alongside poet Anthony Anaxagorou to create a new poem in response to the original “Ode to Joy” text. Hundreds of poems have been written by young people in workshops led by Mr. Anaxagorou, exploring the theme of joy and what it means to the wider London community, which will be worked into and set to the original Beethoven score and performed in Beyond Beethoven 9. Both performances also include a new film as part of Southbank Centre’s Uncovering Classics series.

A full schedule of All Together: A Global Ode to Joy concerts taking place across South America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, China, and North America follows below:

São Paulo Symphony Orchestra
December 12–15, 2019


Exploring the legacy of slavery in Brazil from the 19th century to the present, these performances will feature traditional and contemporary music between the movements of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, as well as a new Brazilian Portuguese translation of “Ode to Joy” by Arthur Nestrovskiartistic director of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra.

Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall
April 5, 2020


New Yorkers of all ages and leading artists of our time perform “All Together: Songs for Joy,” joining mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato and musicians of Ensemble Connect in a concert that features new music written by those on stage. Through these works, the songwriters explore their own bold visions for joy, a universal human emotion that binds communities together around the globe, and also the powerful new adaptation of ”Ode to Joy” by the 22nd US Poet Laureate, Tracy K. Smith.

London Southbank Centre
April 16 and 18, 2020


A 350-person choir will perform a new English interpretation of the famous “Ode to Joy” text, crafted with young people from across Great Britain as part of a community writing project. More than 500 performers—members of Southbank Centre’s Associate Orchestra the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain alongside young musicians from across London—will fill the stage at Royal Festival Hall.

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
June 11–14, 2020


This concert led by Marin Alsop, music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, will feature a new translation of “Ode to Joy” by Baltimore-based rapper and musician Wordsmith. It will also include a new arrangement of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson; a newly commissioned work by Indian-American composer Reena Esmail; and interstitial music by artists from Baltimore’s rich musical community, including students from the acclaimed BSO Orchkids program.

New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
July 26 and 28, 2020


For performances in Auckland and Wellington, Marin Alsop and NZSO will be joined by secondary schools and youth choirs to perform a new version of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in te reo Maori. In addition, NZSO will perform four newly commissioned works by New Zealand composers to complement Beethoven’s great masterpiece. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime celebration of music, for and by the people of Aotearoa, New Zealand.

Sydney Symphony
August 7–9, 2020


Australia’s rich multicultural and indigenous heritage will be celebrated in these performances of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, with choristers from Sydney’s community choirs and music from Australia’s First Nations.

China NCPA Orchestra & Chorus
September 20, 2020

In this performance at Beijing's National Centre for the Performing Arts, Marin Alsop leads the China NCPA Orchestra & Chorus in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with Ode to Joy translated into Chinese. The concert also features new music commissioned from renowned composer Huang Ruo. In addition, the performance stimulates community participation by acting as a springboard for study projects at local schools.

ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
October 16, 2020


Led by the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra’s new chief conductor Marin Alsop, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony will be performed in the city in which it was premiered. Held at Vienna’s Konzerthaus, the concert will feature the children of Superar—an educational community initiative located in Vienna’s Favoriten district—in dialogue with musicians from all over the world.

Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra
November 18 and 19, 2020


This performance with the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, choirs and accomplished South African soloists, will feature a Zulu translation of “Ode to Joy.”

KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra
November 22, 2020


Members of various township-based choirs and accomplished South African soloists will join the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra on stage for this highly anticipated performance at the Durban City Hall, which will feature a Zulu translation of “Ode to Joy”.

Carnegie Hall
December 6, 2020


The culminating concert at Carnegie Hall will feature an orchestra comprising the finest players of tomorrow, backed by a 250-voice choir featuring singers of all ages from across New York City who will sing a new adaptation of the "Ode to Joy" by the 22nd United States Poet Laureate, Tracy K. Smith. New music written as part of the “All Together: Songs for Joy” event will be featured between each of the movements of the Beethoven symphony.

Learn more about All Together: A Global Ode to Joy at carnegiehall.org/AllTogether and at #alltogether.

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Over the past 12 years, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute (WMI) has presented a series of exciting creative learning projects, each designed to bring students and world-class artists together for musical exploration as they prepare to perform a major work. All Together: A Global Ode to Joy continues this tradition, both in New York and through all the programming presented by partners around the world. Past creative learning projects at Carnegie Hall have centered on Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring (2007, in partnership with the Berliner Philharmoniker Education Project); Orff’s Carmina Burana (2012); Osvaldo Golijov’s La Pasión según San Marcos (2013); and Ellington’s Sacred Music (2014, in partnership with Jazz at Lincoln Center). Marin Alsop has led three previous WMI creative learning projects, including Bernstein’s Mass (2008); Too Hot to Handel, a gospel-influenced re-invention of Handel’s Messiah (2010); and The Somewhere Project, a citywide exploration of West Side Story (2016).

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Marin Alsop is an inspiring and powerful voice in the international music scene, a music director of vision and distinction who passionately believes that “music has the power to change lives.” She is recognized across the world for her innovative approach to programming and for her deep commitment to education and to the development of audiences of all ages. She has been music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra since 2007, and she has had two extensions in her tenure, now confirmed until 2021. As part of her artistic leadership in Baltimore, Ms. Alsop has created several bold initiatives: OrchKids, for the city’s young people, and the BSO Academy and Rusty Musicians, for adult amateur musicians. In 2012, she became principal conductor and music director of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, with her contract now extended to the end of 2019, when she becomes Conductor of Honor. In September 2019, she became chief conductor of the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Alsop received the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, is an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music and Royal Philharmonic Society, and is the director of graduate conducting at the Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute. She attended Juilliard and Yale, which awarded her an honorary doctorate in 2017.

Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute (WMI) creates visionary programs that embody Carnegie Hall’s commitment to music education, playing a central role in fulfilling the Hall’s mission of making great music accessible to as many people as possible. With unparalleled access to the world’s greatest artists, WMI’s programs are designed to inspire audiences of all ages, nurture tomorrow’s musical talent, and harness the power of music to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives. An integral part of Carnegie Hall’s concert season, these programs facilitate creative expression, develop musical skills and capacities at all levels, and encourage participants to make lifelong personal connections to music. The Weill Music Institute generates new knowledge through original research and is committed to giving back to its community and the field, sharing an extensive range of online music education resources and program materials for free with teachers, orchestras, arts organizations, and music lovers worldwide. More than 600,000 people each year engage in WMI’s programs through national and international partnerships, in New York City schools and community settings, and at Carnegie Hall. This includes half a million students and teachers worldwide who participate in WMI’s Link Up music education program for students in grades 3 through 5, made possible through Carnegie Hall partnerships with over 115 orchestras in the US from Alaska to Florida, as well as internationally in Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Japan, Kenya, and Spain.

For more information, please visit: carnegiehall.org/Education


Photo at top of release by Grant Leighton.


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