To Joy, Indeed
December 19, 2012 10:36 AM   Subscribe

(SLYT) Not your average flashmob.
posted by Aizkolari (30 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
I think that if Canadian banks used their record quarterly profits for this sort of thing once in a while, they might not be as loathed.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:48 AM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Whenever I see kids conducting Beethoven I cry just a little.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:02 AM on December 19, 2012 [7 favorites]

Ode to Joy, indeed :)
posted by carter at 11:07 AM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

This was gorgeous.
posted by DoubleLune at 11:07 AM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, I wanted to be cynical. I mean, how can something really be a "flashmob" if it's part of a "campaign?"

But ... Ode to Joy... cynicism... weakening... and the little girl at 3:34 ... squeeeee......*dies*
posted by louche mustachio at 11:13 AM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

God, I would've posted this here months ago if I'd realized it hadn't been. This is so good, I cry with joy every time I play it. The audience's reactions are almost as moving as the music.
posted by Hobgoblin at 11:24 AM on December 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

I take back all previous snark about flash mobs... It's been a long week , I needed something that was just pure, well.... joy!

posted by HuronBob at 11:40 AM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Ode to Joy" is one of those pieces you've heard so many times, in so many forms, that it'd be really easy to hate. But it'll never, never happen.

I remember learning music as a kid. It came up pretty frequently as a hymn at church ("Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee") and I found it in a hymnal we had lying around at home. Then I learned to play it first on the piano, then the cello. It's in Suzuki Book 3.

It's super easy to learn and remember because it just goes up a little and then down a little; the notes aren't far apart, so it's easy to keep going by just playing the nearby notes instead of hunting for intervals. Thinking about it now, after years of musical and musicological study, I've never realized what perfect voice leading it has. It's SO simple, but it's still interesting.

So then I got older and moved from scraping out the 16-bar melody to playing in an orchestra. When you're in a beginning orchestra, the most fun you have is playing an exciting piece that you kind of already know. We played this arrangement that wasn't particularly complicated, but brought in that part in the middle -- you know, the weird part after the silence, where it goes (beat) da-dahhh, (beat) da-dahhh, (beat) da-dahhh, (beat) da-dahhh and you wind up again to the main part. I thought, "Whoa -- I never knew that!"

And THEN I found out that there were actually WORDS. And a CHOIR. NO WAY.

And it just kept going. By the time I got to college, we studied the whole thing in class and listened to the call-and-response of the cellos in the beginning, the operatic recitative between the strings and the woodwinds, all that. Then you bring in a real live set of operatic soloists to do the same thing. The weird part in the middle is a Janissary march, representing the Ottoman culture that was so in vogue in Vienna at the time.

And finally, FINALLY, when I was 25, I joined up with the local symphony chorus as we opened our new performing arts center, and it just so happened that they planned to do Beethoven's 9th. The whole thing. We'd practiced for weeks, and on the day of the dress rehearsal this random dude made his way into the middle of the bass section. Turns out his retirement hobby was to find anyone, anywhere, performing the piece, and join up with them. So he did. I know he'd done it well over 100 times by that point.

We sat out there on that stage for such a terribly long time, waiting and listening to the opening movements. The whole thing sets the stage for something to come out of this swirling mass of themes and emotions. It's not just a bunch of leitmotifs that get linked together; you know that something's up. Usually, symphonic finales simply turn the first movements on their heads, making the themes more stormy or shooting the brilliance of a major key out from the turbulence. But the 9th adds SO much more. Two-thirds of the people on that stage did nothing for a good 40 minutes.

And then we stood up and sang, and so what if I was singing alto and the part was... you know, an alto part. There is nothing like it. Nothing. Physical, emotional, the softest whisper of sound and the loudest blast of musical noise you can make. The words are so powerful and yet so incredibly fun to sing. Götterfunken, people! Götterfunken! It has everything.

I will never, never, never get tired of this piece. Ever.
posted by Madamina at 11:45 AM on December 19, 2012 [41 favorites]

Yay them.
posted by Samizdata at 11:55 AM on December 19, 2012

When dude shows up with the kettle drums, you know shit's about to get real.
posted by mikeand1 at 11:55 AM on December 19, 2012 [8 favorites]

I loved this too, very moving. I have to wonder how the sound was recorded, toward the end it sounded different than I would expect an outdoor recording to sound.
posted by haunted by Leonard Cohen at 12:24 PM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

My heart swelled and 'sploded all over my desk. This was just, YAY!!!
posted by michellenoel at 12:33 PM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is the world I want to live in. I needed this post today.
posted by kamikazegopher at 1:36 PM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Well played banks, very well played. Consider my faith in you restored.
posted by doublesix at 1:55 PM on December 19, 2012

yup, I needed that. not memories on the scale of Madamina's, but I can still recall most of the notes for viola some 25 years later. I'm going to reboot it this evening from home, y'know, maybe just a *little* bit louder. :)
posted by swillis at 2:04 PM on December 19, 2012

Obigatory... "I'm thinking that I could do a tour where I'd play Kreisler's music . . ." He smiled ". . . on Kreisler's violin." -Josh Bell.
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 2:20 PM on December 19, 2012

An unexpected delight. Thank you!
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:33 PM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

This just screams for a link to another flashmob featuring a full (150+ member) orchestra, showing up to play in the middle of The Hague’s central station to protest budget cuts.

The same budget cuts that almost ended the existence of the largest full time ensemble of its kind [jazz and pop] in the world this week. It was just saved yesterday (Dutch).

Flashmobs and classical instruments will never go out of style. Does anyone know of some more?
posted by Martijn at 2:39 PM on December 19, 2012

Let me add some more Dutch people playing in a train stations. Mozart this time.
posted by Martijn at 2:45 PM on December 19, 2012

Oh, freude!
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:20 PM on December 19, 2012

All those people enjoyed the music. Couldn't help noticing how turned on the children were. How many will ever go to a concert? How many can afford concert tickets? Wonderful that the beauty was taken outside for all to hear.
posted by Cranberry at 3:29 PM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Previously, the Copenhagen Philharmonic.
posted by mbrubeck at 4:56 PM on December 19, 2012

they gathered a crowd, not a flashmob.
posted by cupcake1337 at 6:07 PM on December 19, 2012

Hobgoblin - you nailed it. Madamina - what a pleasure to read, I can feel your fascination with the truly remarkable piece of music. I have to re-read it once more.
posted by nostrada at 7:44 PM on December 19, 2012

That was delightful.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:16 PM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Move aside, Gangnam Style. Less than two weeks before the end of 2012, this becomes my favorite video of the year. Just sheer positive goodness; every time I hear this it evokes continental Europe.

Oh, and another interpretation of the same music.
posted by Wordshore at 8:26 PM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

When I was with a symphony chorus many years ago (I think we did the Ninth once, and Fideleo once, and I forget which piece this was) I happened to pass two guys discussing some particularly challenging section. The second guy was saying, "But it's Beethoven! Beethoven's scales are more beautiful than anyone else's!"

I thought, "What can he mean by that? A scale is a scale."

But you know? I was an ignoramus. Beethoven's scales are more beautiful than anyone else's. I think I never took the Ode to Joy seriously since I learned it from the first half of an Easy Guitar book, between Yankee Doodle and The Old Grey Mare or something similarly ridiculous. I knew the story about how Beethoven had already gone deaf before he wrote the piece, never heard it performed even as he conducted the premiere, had to be told that the audience was applauding. But it took that aside for me to take a step back and say, you know, this guy really had the touch. Melodies that are simple enough to play on your first day with a new instrument, with layers and layers and layers of richness to discover underneath. Every time I hear a Beethoven piece I notice something new.

Thanks for this. What a joy.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 8:52 PM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Thank you for my daily dose of goose bumps. This makes it to the top of my favorites list and restores some faith in humanity and life - would be a great pick-me-up video. Wonderful to see so many, especially children, enjoying this (and yet, in our damnably cynical age, I cant' help but think if it's part of a bank campaign maybe everyone and everything in the video is staged...).
posted by blue shadows at 9:34 PM on December 19, 2012

Just sheer positive goodness; every time I hear this it evokes continental Europe.

Trivia: It is the official EU anthem.
posted by cmonkey at 10:00 PM on December 19, 2012

Wow, that little girl in the pink sweater at the beginning sure got a lot for her coin in the hat.
posted by pjern at 10:30 PM on December 19, 2012

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