Today, October 22, leading arts organizations of five continents come together to launch the Global Ode to Joy (GOTJ). At a time when fear, isolation and division dominate so much of our world, this crowd-sourced video project invites us all, as an international community, to unite and celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birthday by flooding the digital sphere with positivity, hope and joy. Created in collaboration with YouTubeand Google Arts & Culture, with support from Germany’s official Beethoven anniversary campaign, the project draws inspiration from the composer’s beloved “Ode to Joy” chorus and its uplifting message of joy and unity for humankind. A diverse array of the most joyous video submissions will be selected for an official GOTJ playlist, and the project will culminate in early December, the month of Beethoven’s birth, with a grand video finale: a GOTJ highlight reel, set to a performance of the “Ode to Joy” itself. Click here to see the video trailer for the Global Ode to Joy.
Over the next six weeks, artists, organizations and members of the public will be invited to post joy-filled videos to social media with the hashtag #GlobalOdeToJoy. At Google Arts & Culture’s YouTube channel, many of these will appear alongside professionally produced videos by the project’s official partners(see below) on the official GOTJ playlist. Led by conductor Marin Alsop, the “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s Ninth “Choral” Symphony will be performed on the video finale by Austria’s ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, members of GO: The Global Orchestra,and the international Stay at Home Choir. Participating virtually from all over the world, this choir of thousands will premiere a new English adaptation of Friedrich Schiller’s original Ode to Joypoem,commissioned from former U.S. poet laureate Tracy K. Smithby New York’s Carnegie Hall. In addition to submitting their own videos, members of the public can sign up to take part in the Stay at Home Choir’s performance, as well as donating to the official GOTJ charity, Music for Relief.
GOTJ’s growing list of official partners includes the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (Afghanistan), Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (USA), Beethoven-Haus Bonn (Germany), Boston Symphony Orchestra (USA), Carnegie Hall (USA), Cité de la musique – Philharmonie de Paris (France), Cleveland Orchestra (USA), Community Arts Network (Austria), Czech Philharmonic (Czech Republic), El Sistema USA (USA), Europa Nostra (Belgium), European Union Youth Orchestra (Europe), Gateways Music Festival (USA), Gürzenich Orchestra Cologne (Germany), Konzerthaus Orchestra Berlin (Germany), Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra (Germany), Munich Philharmonic (Germany), National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain (UK), National Youth Orchestra of the USA (USA), New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (New Zealand), NYO-2 (USA), ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra (Austria), Philadelphia Orchestra (USA), São Paulo Symphony Orchestra (OSESP) (Brazil), Southbank Centre (UK), Stay at Home Choir (UK; international), Taipei Music Academy & Festival (Taiwan) and The Orchestra of the Americas (USA, Costa Rica, Canada, Brazil & Venezuela).
How GOTJ began
Global Ode to Joy is the brainchild of MacArthur Award-winning conductor Marin Alsop, a leading “ambassador for classical music in the 21st century” (Financial Times). The project was inspired in its new, digital incarnation by “All Together: A Global Ode to Joy,” the yearlong Beethoven celebration she designed in partnership with Carnegie Hall. This would have seen her lead ten orchestras at the leading venues of six continents, with each orchestral partner creating innovative programs to reimagine the idea of the “Ode to Joy” within its community. When the pandemic struck, she found herself forced to cancel all but the first of these engagements. However, on seeing the trauma wrought by the worldwide health crisis and the subsequent social, political and economic fallout, she became all the more committed to her project’s essential mission. She explains:
“Beethoven was all about love and joy and celebrating the essence of what it is to be human and connected to one another. His optimism and his fundamental faith in humanity could not be more relevant this year. The Global Ode to Joy is about throwing the doors wide open and coming together to realize his dream of a united humanity through joy.”
As Tracy K. Smith writes, in her new English adaptation of Schiller’s poem,
“O friend, my heart has tired
Of such darkness.
Now it vies for joy.”
About Music for Relief
Music for Relief, a fund of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), is dedicated to providing aid to survivors and communities affected by natural disasters globally to help them recover and rebuild. In response to COVID-19, Music for Relief has provided support to musicians and members of the entertainment community who lost their jobs or cannot work due to the pandemic. Funds raised by Global Ode To Joy will benefit musicians struggling financially and programs providing mental health support through music. Founded by the band Linkin Park in 2005, Music for Relief supports immediate and long-term disaster recovery with a primary goal of making a powerful and sustainable impact in highly affected areas. EIF is a Charity Navigator Four-Star Charity that meets all 20 Better Business Bureau charity standards and carries the GuideStar Platinum Seal of Transparency. Click here to learn more.
About Germany’s official Beethoven anniversary campaign
Beethoven’s 250th anniversary is being celebrated worldwide. The Beethoven Jubiläums GmbH, an affiliate of the Beethoven-Haus Foundation, is coordinating a national program to “Rediscover Beethoven,” with support from Germany’s federal government, the land of North Rhine-Westphalia, the city of Bonn and the Rhein-Sieg district. The patron of the anniversary program is German federal president Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Celebrations will continue through September 2021; for an up-to-date overview, see the calendar of events at www.bthvn2020.de/en.
About Google Arts & Culture
Google Arts & Culture puts the collections of more than 2,000 cultural institutions from 84 countries at your fingertips. It’s an immersive way to explore art, history and the wonders of the world, from Van Gogh’s bedroom paintings, Puerto Rico’s heritage, sports in Australia and the women’s rights movement to some of the oldest known Shellac recordings, ancient Mayan temples and Indian railways. The Google Arts & Culture team has been an innovation partner for cultural institutions since 2011 by developing technologies that help preserve and share culture. Read about its latest projects on the Google Keyword blog. The Google Arts & Culture app is free and available online for iOS and Android.
YouTube is a popular worldwide operating platform for online videos, where users can watch and share original videos over the internet. YouTube’s mission is to give everyone a voice and provide a forum where users around the world can connect, learn and share. It also serves as a platform for small and large partners and advertisers to distribute original content. YouTube, LLC is based in San Bruno, California (USA) and is a subsidiary of Google, LLC.
To download the GOTJ press kit, click here.