Beethoven's Ode to Joy will be sung in te reo Māori as part of an international musical celebration of the composer's 250th birthday next year.
The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra will join those in Brazil, Britain, the United States, Australia, Austria and South Africa in performing Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with the Ode to Joy segment sung in local languages.
School and youth choirs will perform in the NZ concerts, called Kia Kotahi: He Toirangi Ā-Ao Kia Harikoa, and new works by local artists reflecting the cultures of this country will also be included.
The worldwide project, All Together: A Global Ode to Joy, is the brainchild of the Carnegie Hall in New York. The NZSO has worked with American conductor Marin Alsop and the institution for the past year to be part of the project.
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Alsop, a strong advocate for young people and diversity in the arts, will conduct every performance of the Ninth Symphony by each orchestra, including the NZSO's in July and August 2020.
"Ode to Joy is about standing up and being counted in this world. It's about believing in our power as human beings," she says.
Beethoven's Ode to Joy, sung in the Ninth Symphony's fourth movement, is based on a poem by Friedrich Schiller which calls for equality, freedom and fraternity among people.
"Everyone will be tied together by this experience. And I think that's the important element—that through this project, we will bring diverse communities together and communities who don't normally work together," says Alsop.
NZSO head of artistic planning Lucrecia Colominas says Ode to Joy sung in te reo Māori by young people will be breathtaking: "This is a fantastic way to celebrate the genius of Beethoven, our youth and our own rich culture."
The first All Together: A Global Ode to Joy concerts are by the São Paulo Symphony in December this year.