(Brightened detail of CC BY-SA 4.0 image by Axel Kirch)
SUNY Geneseo’s Department of Music will host a first — a “unity-community sing” of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. Scheduled for 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 5, in Wadsworth Auditorium, this work will require the combined forces of the Geneseo Symphony Orchestra, the Festival Singers, Geneseo’s town/gown choir, professional soloists, and the vocal talents of volunteers who would like to be part of this one-of-a-kind event.
“The work was groundbreaking for its time and was the first major symphonic work to use a chorus. And while first performed almost 200 years ago, its message is as relevant today as it was then,” said Gerard Floriano ‘84, chair and professor in the Department of Music. "Penned amid a backdrop of societal injustice, discrimination, and suffering, one of the remarkable and compelling aspects of the ninth symphony is that it delivers a message of universal kinship, unity, and joy through the music even if one doesn’t understand the German — and it’s just as important today as it was in Beethoven’s time.”
To prepare for the performance, singers are asked to attend six Tuesday rehearsals with the College’s Festival Singers, beginning March 26, 7–9 p.m. A dress rehearsal will be held on Saturday, May 4, 1–4:30 p.m. To reserve your spot in this celebration of unity, please send Floriano an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It’s in the spirit of kinship and unity that I invite students, staff, faculty, and administrators as well as friends and supporters in the community to join us in singing this towering work,” said Floriano. “If you have ever sung before — in high school, college, church, synagogue — or if you haven’t had a lot of experience before but wish to lend your voice in support of kinship and caring in our community, this is your opportunity. We welcome you!”
The lyrics, which are sung during the final (4th) movement of the symphony by four vocal soloists and a chorus, are taken from Friedrich Schiller's “An die Freude” (Ode to Joy) with text additions made by Beethoven himself.
“I am always looking for opportunities to bring people together in meaningful ways through music. It was Beethoven’s purpose with this piece, and it’s a great time to hold this event,” said Floriano. “The Festival Singers is one of the oldest and most successful town/gown collaborations on campus, and we are happy to welcome others in this endeavor. We learn so much from singing and working together!”