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Ode to Joy learn more about the music

One of the world’s best-loved symphonies, performed thousands of times, is being paired with a completely new symphonic work receiving its first performance in two joyous performances taking place at the Philharmonic Hall.

You can learn more about both in our programme notes which this year are being presented in a new and accessible way.

And in addition, this companion page draws together a range of complementary content which we hope will help shine additional light on the pieces, the people who composed them and the performers bringing them to life here in Hope Street.

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

Beethoven’s mighty Ninth Symphony has been performed regularly at Hope Street throughout Liverpool Philharmonic’s long life.

In 1866, conductor Alfred Mellon was joined by soloists Swedish operatic soprano Mathilda Enequist, leading contralto Madame Patey-Whytock (Janet Monach Patey), tenor William Hayman Cummings and bass John Patey, along with an orchestra and chorus numbering 250.

Seven years later, the Ninth concluded a ‘revival’ season of Beethoven’s Symphonies at Hope Street, while in April 1886 the Liverpool Philharmonic Choral Society performed the work with Dr Hans Richter’s orchestra.

Almost 70 years later, in 1941 and a month before the Liverpool Blitz, Malcolm Sargent conducted the stellar quartet of Isobel Baillie, Mary Jarred, Walter Widdop and Norman Walker – three of whom would return to reprise their roles under Sargent again in 1946.

John Pritchard directed the symphony as part of the Orchestra’s Industrial Concerts series in 1955, and Charles Groves took the baton in 1963.

And on January 3, 1991, Charles Mackerras conducted – observing Beethoven’s original tempi and instructions - with a young Welsh bass-baritone called Bryn Terfel among the soloists.

Did you know? In Japan, performing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is a Christmas tradition with concerts across the country, many including a singalong Ode to Joy.

Roberto Sierra

Puerto Rican composer Robert Sierra was in the hall to take a bow when the Orchestra and Domingo Hindoyan gave the world premiere of his new Salseando Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra in 2020.

And now Liverpool is the scene for a second Sierra world premiere, with audiences getting the chance to hear the first performance of his Symphony No. 6, co-commissioned by Liverpool Philharmonic, National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra  and Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Read an interview with Roberto Sierra about the new symphony.

Listen to the Orchestra and Pacho Flores perform the Salseando Concerto.

Domingo Hindoyan

Domingo Hindoyan

According to our new chief conductor, Beethoven’s Ninth is “probably the best symphony ever written”.

It’s certainly one of his favourite five to conduct.

So you can expect fireworks when he stands in front of the massed ranks of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir to perform it in his inaugural season at Hope Street.

Watch Domingo Hindoyan conduct the final movement of the symphony at the Georg Enescu Festival in Bucharest.

The soloists

Liverpool mezzo Jennifer Johnston needs little introduction to Hope Street audiences.

Our former Artist-in-Residence started her career as a teenage member of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir and in an interview in 2018 recalled: “I learned such a lot in those three years which really formed me later as a performer.

“I heard so many big-name singers and performed, not just in the choir with big name conductors, but also did some solos which gave me an early chance to be heard and to work under pressure.

“I could claim my professional debut came when I sang the voice from heaven in Honegger’s Joan of Arc, with Libor Pesek conducting.”

Jennifer is joined in this Ode to Joy concert by three other world-class singers.

Romanian operatic soprano Anita Hartig has performed at Covent Garden, La Scala, the Paris Opera and New York Met among other prestigious global venues, while her symphonic repertoire also includes Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony, Faure’s Requiem and Vaughan Williams’ A Sea Symphony.

Along with his operatic career, tenor Andrew Staples is also a prolific concert performer who has appeared with orchestras including the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics, the London Symphony Orchestra, and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Sir Simon Rattle.

And bass Tareq Nazmi has both recorded the Beethoven Symphony Cycle (with the Polish Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir) and performed it live with the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestras as part of their Beethoven 250 celebrations.

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir

When the Liverpool Philharmonic Society was founded in 1840 it saw the birth not only of an orchestra but of a chorus too.

The Choir added ‘royal’ to its title in 1990.

Its longest serving chorus master, Dr J E Wallace, held the post for 41 years from 1929 onwards (with a hiatus during the Second World War), and the current incumbent Professor Ian Tracey has continued that tradition of continuity and has now been chorus master for more than 35 years.

Hear more from Ian Tracey about his role.

14 October concert sponsored by Investec