Arts and Entertainment

Bremerton Symphony strikes up Beethoven’s final symphony for its finale

Elizabeth Stoyanovich conducts the Bremerton Symphony Orchestra during a rehearsal for this weeks performance. - Courtesy photo
Elizabeth Stoyanovich conducts the Bremerton Symphony Orchestra during a rehearsal for this weeks performance.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Epitomizing a symphonic finale, the Bremerton Symphony Orchestra will be striking up “the Ninth” to close its 2006-2007 season this weekend.

Many composers throughout history have constructed ninth symphonies, but it almost goes without saying that when speaking of “the Ninth,” one is alluding to Ludwig Van Beethoven’s revered final work.

One of the most highly regarded and most well-known classical compositions of all time, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is an hour-long musical saga that travels from a stormy beginning to a “kiss for the whole world” in the final movement.

In its time the Ninth premiered in May of 1824 in Vienna, Italy Beethoven’s masterpiece was groundbreaking. Not only did the composer write, refine and quasi-conduct it under a blanket of deafness, the masterpiece was also one of the first major works in history in which a classical composer matched human voice with a symphony orchestra.

Today, just shy of 200 years later, the Ninth’s magnificence is just as profound.

“When we were discussing doing Beethoven’s Ninth ... I told her I felt that it was a very big piece and in order for us to do that well ... we needed to ask another group to sing with us so that we’d have enough singers,” LeeAnne Campos, director of the Bremerton Symphony Orchestra Chorale, said of a conversation she’d had with symphony conductor Elizabeth Stoyanovich.

The Symphony Orchestra Chorale has only 45 members, Campos said, which didn’t quite seem rotund enough to match Beethoven’s wits with a near 75-piece orchestra. So the group employed the services of Teresa Fraser’s 35-strong Olympic College Chorale and tagged soloists Janeanne Houston (soprano), Lori Summers (mezzo), Wesley Rogers (tenor) and Andrew Parks (bass).

The kicker is, those 80 vocalists will be sitting dormant throughout the symphony’s first three movements.

In the final movement, all of those musical forces combine under the German lyrics of Friedrich von Schiller’s poem “Ode to Joy” to a melody which likely half of the human race could hum.

“It is the melodies, and it is the driving rhythms and the interesting texture of the piece,” which Campos believes gives the Ninth its prestige and staying power.

While Beethoven’s genius is cloaked in mysteriousness, his Ninth Symphony has stood unabated through centuries for all to witness.

The Bremerton Symphony Orchestra will offer its rendition at 7:30 p.m. May 12 at the Bremerton High School Performing Arts Center 1500 13th St. in Bremerton. Tickets are $22 for adults, $10 for youth (under 18) and can be purchased either at the door, by calling (360) 373-1722 or online at www.bremertonsymphony.org.

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