April 19 update:
The wide world boasts many exalted peaks, but there is only one Everest. So, too, in music, there are symphonies of great length and grandeur, works of true dramatic and philosophical weight (particularly the symphonies of Mahler), but there is only one Ninth. It remains, after nearly two hundred years of symphonic creativity by musical giants like Schumann, Brahms, Shostakovich and, yes, Mahler, THE Ninth. It remains the ultimate challenge for an orchestral conductor, as virtually any conductor will attest, and it remains music’s ultimate affirmation of the indomitable human spirit. No other work delivers this particular, powerful message in music of the richest complexity that is still understandable by everyone, everywhere.
Like the Mahler Sixth, the Beethoven Ninth became an acclaimed recording by the BPO; it was, in fact, the first commercial recording the orchestra ever made, recorded in 1990. Astonishingly, we have not returned to this seminal work for twenty-two years. So to end this season, which in some ways is a retrospective of the BPO’s most acclaimed past achievements, we move to Symphony Hall for a gala performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The marvelous soloists are Michelle Johnson, Sarah Heltzel, Yeghishe Manucharyan and Sam McElroy. Be sure to mark this on your calendar now!