MSO, Mercer, Choral Society join forces for “Joy”

Telegraph correspondentApril 26, 2013 


This painting of Beethoven by Neal Hamilton is featured in the Buckhead home of Travis Gonzales. The frame was made by Gary Bixler.


There will be one of Beethoven’s most joyous compositions resonating from the stage at the Grand Opera House on Saturday thanks to a collaboration between the Mercer University Choir, the Mercer Singers, the Macon Symphony Orchestra and the Choral Society of Middle Georgia.

David Keith, dean of the Townsend School of Music at Mercer, expressed his excitement and enthusiasm about the upcoming concert.

“We are very excited to be able to join forces with the Macon Symphony to perform the monumental ‘Symphony No. 9’ of Beethoven’s. When Beethoven began working on this, he was completely deaf. He never heard one note of the entire symphony. But, because he could interpret vibrations, he was able to create this piece. It is considered to be his greatest work.”

The text is based on Friedrich Shiller poem “Ode to Joy” and there are four movements.

“The last movement is the movement in which the choir and soloists sing. Most people will recognize music from this piece,” Keith said. “Do you know the hymn ‘Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee?’ That is the hymn from the last movement. It is one of the most performed of the choral orchestral pieces simply because of the phenomenal writing of the piece. Sometimes it is called the choral symphony because it uses a choir with it. It has four soloists and they promise to be outstanding.”

The conductor’s chat begins at 6:30 p.m., an hour before the performance.

“Conductor Ward Stare will talk about the pieces and why and how they were written. ... He always takes questions as well. This gives the audience the chance to appreciate the music even more,” Keith said. “For example, he will discuss the fact that (the performance) is very vocally demanding. It uses extreme ranges for the singers, especially the sopranos. Most of the vocal parts are extremely high, which makes it a very difficult work to perform. The whole piece takes about an hour and represents a significant amount of talent and work.”

The groups joined together for the performance because “it is one of those kind of pieces where you can’t do it justice without a choir. Because of the relationship that Mercer has with the MSO, it is a natural joining together of our forces to do this,” Keith said. “The entire season is book-ended with Beethoven. This is the last concert of the season and it is a great way to end the season. It is about humanity and is a very upbeat piece. ... It is some of the greatest music ever written and it will be an inspiring evening for those who are there.”

In addition to Beethoven’s “Symphony. No. 9,” the Macon Symphony Orchestra also will perform Dvorak’s “Symphony No. 8.”

“It will be a truly memorable performance,” Keith said. “We hope everyone comes out to be inspired and to have a wonderful evening with us.”

Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 9”

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday; conductor’s chat begins at 6:30 p.m.

Where: the Grand Opera House, 651 Mulberry St.

Cost: $38.50 adults; $18.50 students; $13.50 children 12 and younger

Phone: 301-5300

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