Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ to close Jacksonville Symphony season

Next week we perform the final classical concerts of the season. We’ll open with a brand-new work composed by Tarik O’Regan, commissioned by the Jacksonville Symphony. O’Regan was born in England of Irish and Algerian parents and now lives in the US His piece, “Trances,” is an exploration of his childhood memories of Moroccan pop music. It’s a fascinating look at how time affects our memories, like a haze of fog that affects our vision.

After that we’ll perform Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. It’s hard to know where to start when talking about this colossus, which is one of the most important, beloved and powerful pieces of art in Western culture. It’s different from Beethoven’s other symphonies because it introduces words for the first time, sung by a choir and a quartet of soloists. When we listen to any of Beethoven’s other eight symphonies, we are listening to abstract music that doesn’t have concrete semantic meaning — they are just music, like an abstract painting is just art. But because of the introduction of words, the Ninth is about something.

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