Global Ode To Joy
Thousands of Moments filled with Hope
After Hardships of 2020, Thousands of People from 70+ Countries Share Moments of Hope & Joy in #GlobalOdeToJoy: Crowd-Sourced Video Project Celebrating Beethoven’s 250th Birthday on Dec 17
A choir for the deaf and hearing-impaired sings a new Arabic version of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” chorus by Dalia Ihab Younis in Egypt. Irmi Wolvin offers a witty snapshot of the lockdown experience in Austria, where she and her cello share wine, ice cream and yoga to her own bittersweet take on Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Chad and Sean play the “Ode to Joy” on the violin upside down while performing an acrobatic pole dance; Joyce Kwon adapts the melody for her toy piano and a box of animated eggs; and Stacie Eirich’s children enjoy a rare snowfall in their Louisiana backyard. These are just a handful of people who, over the past six weeks, found not only the strength and resilience to make their own small moments of joy but also the generosity to share them with the international community, at the end of this challenging year. Together with thousands of people from more than 70 countries on six continents, they created and shared videos tagged #GlobalOdeToJoy to celebrate Beethoven’s 250thbirthdayby flooding the digital sphere with solidarity and hope.
After the hardships and heartaches of 2020, we are all in desperate need of joy. Next week, music-lovers around the world had hoped to celebrate Beethoven’s milestone anniversary in the concert hall. Like so many of life’s great pleasures, it wasn’t to be. Yet the composer’s Ninth Symphony has special resonance for us right now. Written as ajourney from despair to joy, it culminates with his iconic“Ode to Joy” chorus, an uplifting hymn to unity, hope and the healing power of music. Through the #GlobalOdeToJoy project, people from all corners of the globe have drawn inspiration from Beethoven’s message, in what represents a triumph of the human spiritover adversity.
To mark Beethoven’s birthday on December 17, the project concludes next Thursday with a grand video finale: a #GlobalOdeToJoy highlight reel, set to a performance of the “Ode to Joy” chorus by conductor Marin Alsop, the ORF ViennaRadio Symphony Orchestra and the international Stay At Home Choir. Comprising more than 1,000 singers participating virtually from 58 different countries, the choir premiered a new English-language adaptation of Friedrich Schiller’s original Ode to Joypoem,commissioned from former U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smithby New York’s Carnegie Hall. Choir member Betty Bennett recalls, “When Ms. Alsop raised her hand at the end of the piece, it felt like a signal of victory over the darkness of our current days.”
Ms. Bennett is one of thousands who responded to the #GlobalOdeToJoy. Musicians and dancers of all ages and abilities shared their accounts of Beethoven’s music, from Andreas Schüler’s 94-year-old grandmother to little Lukas, who had just heard it for the first time. Some played the “Ode to Joy” on unconventional instruments, like the young percussionists of Taiwan’s Taibeishisilijingxingaoji High School, or performed new works expressly written for the project, like Ruth Kendall, who sang Bryony Price’s original composition “Prayer for Joy.”
Others found whimsical ways to make the best of quarantine, like the Plant Lovers around the world who celebrated their shared passion for houseplants. Dozens offered a glimpse of the small private moments that sustained them, from Sarah M.’s grandchildren ecstatically chasing one another around a coffee table to Nicola Robinson’s rabbit Nibbles earnestly trying to open his Christmas present.
Shining a light on the arts’ special ability to bring people together to support each other, the numerous community groups represented include Nepal’s Home of Hope children’s home, whose ebullient young residents laugh as they dance and make music together, and the Letters of Love team, who delivered hand-written messages of thanks to frontline healthcare workers around the world.
Many of the world’s foremost arts organizations created professionally produced videos. Cologne’s Gürzenich Orchestra took to the streets alongside dancers from the local Mouvoir company for an exuberant open-air interpretation of Beethoven’s music, while Baltimore rapper Wordsmith joined the Baltimore Symphony for a virtual account of the “Ode to Joy,” featuring his timely new text addressing racial injustice. Among the legendary artists who took part are superstar violinist Itzhak Perlman, who gave a playful armchair rendition of the “Ode,” and Linkin Park’sBrad Delson, who talked about friends, fantasy football, 1980s sitcoms and other things that brought him joy.
The Global Ode to Joy was launched in collaboration with YouTube, Google Arts & Culture, BTHVN2020 and the leading arts organizations of five continents. See selected highlights in the #GlobalOdeToJoy playlist, watch the GOTJ’s star-studded event in the “Live with Carnegie Hall” streaming series, and download the GOTJ press kit here.
Official Global Ode To Joy Graphic: Burton Morris