Yannick Nézet-Séguin Yannick Nézet-Séguin Yannick Nézet-Séguin

BeethovenNOW: Symphonies 1 & 9

Apr 02, 2020, 7:30 PM
Apr 04, 2020, 8:00 PM
Apr 05, 2020, 2:00 PM


Performance Details

Yannick Nézet-Séguin Conductor
Angel Blue Soprano
Mihoko Fujimura Mezzo-soprano
Rolando Villazón Tenor
Quinn Kelsey Baritone
Westminster Symphonic Choir and Community Voices
Joe Miller Director

Symphony No. 1
Beethoven Symphony No. 9 ("Choral")

Beethoven was just 25 when he wrote his First Symphony. Delightful and high-spirited, floating on strains of Mozart and Haydn, it's a fascinating glimpse of the greatness and genius to come—all on full, glorious display in the climactic Ninth. Written just a few short years before his death, Beethoven's profound ode to brotherhood, salvation, and pure joy reminds us why we are here as an orchestra, says Yannick, and why we constantly try to make our world better by playing music. Today we ask, is our world better? What in this world sparks joy? Composer-in-Residence Gabriela Lena Frank draws inspiration from Beethoven, his world, and her Peruvian culture to ask these profound questions and to address issues of climate change.

Frank on Pachamama Meets an Ode

In my choral-orchestral work Pachamama Meets an Ode, Beethoven is treated to a scene of an indigenous painter plying his trade in a Spanish church with Moorish (Mudéjar) arches constructed on the remains of a demolished Inca temple. The painter hides spirits from bygone native cultures (Chavín … Moche … Huarí) amidst European figurines, equipping them with protective natural talismans (huacas) and friendly fauna. He is readying his subjects for their journeys, as paintings, into lands violently transformed by colonization. Even old indigenous myths take on new meanings as a Peruvian pistaqo is no longer simply a highland boogie man, but also an urban capitalist murdering indios for their body fat to grease factory machines.

In our modern-day global climate crisis, lands are increasingly fallow, polluted rivers astonishingly burst into flames, and animals disappear into extinction. Gifts from the past—especially odes—must be looked at with new and searching eyes. 

Pachamama asks, challenging us: What of joy?


The April 2 concert is sponsored by

Ballard Spahr