Unable to present its Vice-Chancellor’s Concert Series last year due to the COVID lockdown, the University of Queensland relaunched its 250th Beethoven birthday celebration with a long-awaited performance of his famous ninth Symphony.  Universally regarded as his greatest work, with its stunning fourth movement, the Ode to Joy, this Symphony has come to symbolise unity and peace across many significant world events, most notably being played at the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Beethoven also defied convention by altering the order of the scherzoand adagiomovements and introducing a vocal component.  While this is a mammoth work to undertake for any orchestra, it is also a perfect choice at this time, with its “declaration of universal brotherhood” and a finale that inspires us to look to a brighter future.  This monumental work is moreover an even greater achievement given it was composed when the composer was already profoundly deaf.

Dane Lam conducting Beethoven’s Symphony No 9 for the University of Queensland’s Vice-Chancellor’s concert series. Photograph © 2021 The University of Queensland

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