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Musicians & Singers Mark Beethoven’s 250th Birthday

They came from Orewa. They came from Otara. They came from across Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland. And a bus load drove down from Whangarei.

More than 300 musicians and singers filled the Auckland Town Hall today (Sunday 15 March), to celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birthday.

“We had 201 musicians, a mixture of community players and professionals from the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra (APO), playing music from Beethoven’s 5th and 9th Symphonies,” said APO Music Director Giordano Bellincampi, who conducted the performance.

“We also had 103 singers, singing with the orchestra, as we performed ‘Ode to Joy’ from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.”

“They created a wonderful wall of sound. It was a celebration of some of Beethoven’s most memorable music,” Bellincampi said.

The score was specially arranged by APO Communities Composer Ryan Youens. “This enabled musicians of all ages and skill levels to experience the joy of performing Beethoven,” Bellincampi said.

Before performing, the musicians and singers observed a moment of silence in remembrance of the attacks on two Christchurch mosques, a year ago, on 15 March.

Hoani Waititi Marae chairman Eynon Delamere delivered a karakia and Bellincampi spoke of the power of music to bring people together.

“Beethoven gave the world music, that everyone can enjoy. He gave us music that crosses borders, spans oceans and connects us all,” Bellincampi said.

“It speaks to us, regardless of what language we speak, what country we come from, or what we believe in.”

“Music is the universal language. It has the power to bring everyone together. It brought us all here today.”

Admission to the hall was free. The performance was also broadcast live on the Auckland Live Digital Stage in Aotea Square, next to the town hall.

Beethoven’s Big Birthday Bash, kicked off the APO’s Beethoven 250 concert season. It features something the orchestra has never done before, perform a full Beethoven symphony cycle in four concerts over nine days.

Sunday 21 March to Sunday 29 March: Beethoven’s nine symphonies, Auckland Town Hall

7.30pm Sunday 21 March: The Classicist - Symphonies No.1, No.2, & No.3 ‘Eroica’

7.30pm Tuesday 24 March: The Romantic - Symphonies No.4 & No.5

7.30pm Thursday 26 March: The Revolutionary - Symphonies No.6 ‘Pastoral’ & No.7

5pm Sunday 29 March: The Radical - Symphonies No.8 & No.9

The Radical concert will be livestreamed on the APO Facebook page. It will also be screened live, and free, on the Auckland Live Digital Stage in Aotea Square, next to the Auckland Town Hall.

Monday 23 March to Friday 27 March: Ludwig Reflected, Auckland Town Hall Concert Chamber

APO has commissioned new music, inspired by Beethoven, to be played by the APO Young Achievers -aspiring young musicians. These new works, by New Zealand composers, will be performed on days between the Beethoven symphony concerts.

Ludwig Reflected events are free and include a guest speaker talking about the fascinating life and times of Beethoven.

6pm Monday 23 March - Ludwig Reflected #1

Dame Gillian Whitehead has composed, Weaving time and distance, in response to Beethoven’s late string quarters, String Quartet in D Major Op. 18 No.3 (movements I & II).

Guest Speaker: Rod Oram, an international business journalist. Rod will speak about three key aspects of Beethoven’s life and music: his intense involvement with nature; politics and revolution and ageing. He will weave these together with his musings on Beethoven’s and Gillian Whitehead’s music.

6pm Wednesday 25 March - Ludwig Reflected #2

Chris Gendall has composed, Disquiet, in response to Beethoven’s Piano Trio Op.70 No.2

Guest Speaker: Professor Suzanne Purdy, Head of Speech Science in the School of Psychology at the University of Auckland. Suzanne will investigate Beethoven’s progressive hearing loss in relation to his music, how he transitioned from a hearing person to a hearing-impaired person, trying to access sound through various means and the act of composing music in a late phase of deafness.

6pm Friday 27 March - Ludwig Reflected #3

Celeste Oram and Alex Taylor have composed the Pahia Piano Party in response to Beethoven’s complete oeuvre and legacy.

Guest Speaker Paula Morris, an award-winning author of short stories, essays and novels. Paula will speak about Beethoven from a literary perspective, from those writing around Beethoven’s time, to how Beethoven’s legacy has impacted contemporary writers. She’ll explore the Vienna of Beethoven’s day and reflect on his professional friendships, rivalries, collaborations and feuds.

9 March: The Radical - Symphonies No.8 & No.9

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