National Youth Orchestra encourages all UK musicians to film and share Beethoven ‘Ode to Joy-a-thon’

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

On April 17, 164 young players will play Beethoven from their doorsteps – and they urge all musicians, of all standards, to do the same

The National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain is determined to continue sharing music and inspiring others through performance despite the current Covid-19 lockdown. Comprising young musicians from all backgrounds and every corner of the UK, the NYO is currently preparing for a massed performance of Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ on Friday April 17 at 5pm (BST). All 164 members will take part, along with anyone else in the UK who plays an instrument and wants to get involved. The performance is being presented as a gift of gratitude to NHS staff and other key workers, as well as an act of solidarity to all communities affected by the lock-down, particularly those who are vulnerable or in self-isolation.

Over the next few days, NYO musicians will participate in a digital residency, during which they’ll spend time playing in small groups, creating multi-track videos and compiling resources and guidance for everyone joining in with the ‘Ode to Joy-a-thon’ at home. On Friday at 5pm, they’ll be throwing open their doors and windows and performing their own 40-second performance to neighbours and passers-by. They’ll be sharing these performances, captured on video or on camera, using the hashtag #NYOdetoJoy, and encourage others to do the same – including a personal dedication if they wish. Any musician, of any ability, wanting to perform can download the sheet music on the NYO’s website.

The Ode to Joy-a-thon is part of a series of events celebrating the messages of community and joy in Beethoven’s music. On April 16 at 7.30pm, BBC Radio 3 is broadcasting an archive recording of the NYO and the National Youth Choir performing Beethoven’s Symphony No 9 in its entirety at the BBC Proms. And on April 18, in partnership with the Southbank Centre, NYO musicians will be sharing video performances of music that brings them the most joy in response to Marin Alsop’s recent shout-out as part of the ‘Beyond Beethoven 9’ digital activity. ‘My aspiration, to bring Beethoven’s Ninth symphony into focus for our 21st century, has by necessity evolved as our circumstances have dramatically shifted,’ said the conductor. ‘It is no longer merely aspirational for me; it is a mission. It is crystal clear that we need Beethoven’s Ninth with its message of joy, hope, optimism, goodness and unity.’

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