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South Eastern Europe, Berlin
Choir project:
Ode for All

Ode for All (South Eastern Europe & Berlin) - Workshop
Ode for All (South Eastern Europe & Berlin) - Workshop | Photo (detail): © Goethe-Institut Istanbul

A concert installation performed by singers from Southeast Europe. Composition and artistic director: Cathy Milliken

The “Ode to Joy”, a poem penned by Friedrich Schiller in 1785 and congenially set to music a few decades later by Beethoven in the last movement of his Ninth Symphony, still unites countries, continents and generations with its calls for unity and harmony among men: “Alle Menschen werden Brüder” (“All men shall be brothers”) and “Seid umschlungen, Millionen” (“Be embraced, Millions!”) – whether intoned at the opening of the Olympic Games, in a mass sing-along or as the European anthem.

How would such a humanist message be musically expressed if set to music now, over two hundred years later? What would such an idealistic appeal sound like in our globalized world, a joyful call for global concord “embracing” not just “brothers” (and, implicitly, “sisters”), but everyone everywhere – and set in a modern-day musical idiom? And what does “joy” mean in the 21st century?

The Berlin-based Australian composer Cathy Milliken has pursued these questions together with singing teacher Lucia Duchoňová in a participatory choir project, which takes the lyrics and melody of the original by Schiller and Beethoven to the next level and gives it a whole new sound as an “Ode for All”, collectively composed and performed by six women's choirs with very different vocal traditions from Bosnia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Cyprus and Romania.

The coronavirus pandemic now holds out a new aesthetic prospect for the project: a multi-channel sound installation will be premiered at Berlin's Radialsystem, including material from their first joint workshop in Istanbul in February 2020 as well as some newly composed parts.


  • November 2019 - January 2020: Belgrad, Bukarest, Istanbul, Nikosia, Sarajevo, Sofia
  • 7-9 February 2020: Istanbul


  • 24 October 2020
    6:00, 7:00, 8:00 and 9:00 PM
    Radialsystem, Berlin