Catch Ode To Joy in the comfort of home in virtual show that marks Beethoven's 250th birth anniversary

Chief conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra Wong Kah Chun leading musicians in a virtual performance of music. PHOTO: ROLTON PRODUCTIONS

SINGAPORE - This year marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of renowned German composer Beethoven and audiences can catch an immersive digital performance of his famous work, Ode To Joy, on International Friendship Day on Thursday next week.

Led by Singapore's Wong Kah Chun, chief conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra, the virtual performance, titled Beethoven 360° brings together a cast of musicians from across 25 nations.

Pieced together with digital submissions by instrumentalists and singers from institutions such as the Chicago Symphony, Dresden Boys' Choir, Hong Kong Philharmonic, London Philharmonic and Philharmonic Chorus of Tokyo, the show also brings together more than 1,000 participants as part of a global campaign for a singalong in the renowned Ode To Joy segment.

More than 2,000 man-hours were spent preparing for the show, which promises to be a powerful visual and aural experience that conjures up a garden-city paradise and the cosmos.

Wong, who initiated the project, described it as an "international musical kampung", with music transcending physical barriers.

"Today, we are endowed with 21st-century technology that allows us to be connected and to connect with our audience, without the need to congregate in the same physical space," he said.

"Beethoven's Ode To Joy, with its message of inclusivity, diversity and universal brotherhood, conveys exactly our feelings of united hope and global solidarity," he added.

The performance is also a step forward in deepening cultural ties between Singapore and Germany.

The show propels the annual German-Singaporean open-air concert, Beethoven Im Garten, into the virtual world for listeners across the world to enjoy from the comfort of home.

The open-air concert, jointly established in 2018 by Wong and the German Ambassador to Singapore, Dr Ulrich Sante, is usually held at the Singapore Botanic Gardens each year.

Presented by the German embassy in Singapore and the Foundation for The Arts and Social Enterprise, Beethoven 360° is the first partnership of its kind between a foreign embassy and local cultural institution since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Commenting that the digital space allows more people to be brought together, Dr Sante said: "At a time when both of our countries are battling a common threat, Wong has created a digital experience that will be a moment of uplifting hope that we can overcome the challenge by orchestrating our efforts."

Optimised for smartphones and tablets, the show will premiere on The Straits Times' Facebook and YouTube channels on Thursday next week. Readers can also watch the performance on their computers' Web browsers.


Beethoven 360°

When: July 30, 8pm

Where: The Straits Times' Facebook and YouTube channels

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