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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

Under the direction of Cathy Milliken and Lucia Duchoňová, six women's choirs from South Eastern Europe will be performing a novel collaborative composition based on the final movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in a participatory choir project. 

Whether intoned at the opening of the Olympic Games, in a mass sing-along or as the European anthem, the “Ode to Joy”, a poem penned by Friedrich Schiller in 1785 and, a few decades later, brilliantly set to music 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!”).
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 the whole world – and set in a modern-day musical idiom? And what does “joy” mean in the 21st century anyway? The Berlin-based Australian composer Cathy Milliken has pursued these questions together with singing teacher Lucia Duchanow in a participatory choir project, which takes the lyrics and melody of the original by Schiller and Beethoven to the next level as an “Ode for All” and given it a whole new sound, collectively composed and performed by six women's choirs with very different vocal traditions from Bosnia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Cyprus and Romania. Their various contributions will be developed in Bucharest, Sofia, Nicosia, Belgrade, Sarajevo and Istanbul and fused into a single unified composition. The premiere will be given in Berlin in 2020 as part of the Beethoven jubilee.


  • September 2020 (tbc), Istanbul 

Planned performances:

  • October 2020 (tbc), Berlin