Tonight I had the pleasure of seeing the London Symphony Orchestra perform at the Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg’s Symphony Hall on the Elbe River. Ilona and I have season tickets, but since she is now in Berlin for school and none of my friends could make it, I went alone. Even though I knew that Ode an die Freude (Ode to Joy) was on the Program tonight, I did not think much of it. I went to enjoy a world famous orchestra performing beautiful music, one of a series of great concerts that we have the pleasure of seeing this season.I don’t want to comment on the musical quality of the evening, more qualified people will write reviews soon enough and I’ll paste a link.
Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was scheduled for the second part of the evening. The first part didn’t have a choir in it, so the London Symphony Chorus only came in during intermission. They brought along the whole choir, at least 150 people. They sat in the back in silence for a long time, since all but the last piece of this symphony is instrumental only. This is probably while it took me until the orchestra started playing the famous theme that became the EU’s official anthem, that I realised what was going on. The symbolics of it all hit me and most of the 2000 people in the audience. And that Maestro Sir Simon Rattle of the LSO, who used to be musical director of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra for 16 years, and over two hundred of his British compatriots had come to Germany’s flashiest new concert hall with a purpose. They were on a political mission. This was a salutation to Europe and the EU, a clear anti-Brexit message from these musicians just 19 days after Britain’s official secession.
While I do appreciate the sentiment and it would have been hard not to be caught up in this powerful musical experience, there is another point I would like to raise. In the two hour concert tonight, the part involving a choir, the Ode to Joy proper, lasted about or less than 15 minutes. For this, the London Symphony Chorus, with over 150 people, traveled to Hamburg. I hope they came by train and didn’t fly, but somehow I doubt it. With our planet on fire, this is the kind of indulgence that should probably stop if we are to achieve zero emissions any time soon. So, dear LSO and Sir Simon, next time please get the Hamburg NDR Chor to perform with you, if it’s just the one piece. Most german choirs will have Ode to Joy in their repertoire… and the symbolics will still work.
See you all at the Fridays for Future Demonstration on the 21st!