OXFORD, Mississippi — An elegant evening of classical music awaits Friday (March 25) at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Mississippi.
The UM Choirs, under the direction of Donald Trott and Elizabeth Hearn, will join the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and the Memphis Symphony Chorus to perform Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 (“Ode to Joy”). The composition “Joyride” by Michael Markowski will open the program.
The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets, which range from $20 to $30 each, are available through the UM box office. To buy tickets, click here.
“Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony has become the global anthem of hope for humanity and offers the perfect celebration and healing for these times,” said Julia Aubrey, director of the Ford Center. “Robert Moody commissioned renowned composer Michael Markowski to rearrange his composition ‘Joyride’ in 2012 – a perfect pairing with the Ninth.”
Moody, conductor of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, said Markowski’s composition is a perfect introduction to Beethoven’s Ninth.
“The piece is stunning, with a jubilant, youthful spirit, beautifully blended with Markowski’s talent for creating images with sound,” Moody noted on the orchestra’s website.
Beethoven’s Ninth is a famous piece, the first symphony to incorporate singers and also one of the longest symphonies ever written. The main body, which has become widely known through its use in various media, centers on the text of Friedrich von Schiller’s “An die Freude”, perhaps better known as “Ode to Joy”.
Vocals will be provided by the UM Choirs and the Memphis Symphony Chorus, conducted by Lawrence Edwards. Featured singers are Laquita Mitchell, soprano; Taylor Raven, viola; Limmie Pulliam, tenor; and Joshua Conyers, baritone.
Markowski originally wrote “Joyride” in 2005 when he was a high school student in Mesa, Arizona.
“Our symphony band had been invited to play at Carnegie Hall in New York, and my band manager, Jon Gomez, came up with the idea of writing a short celebratory piece to commemorate the occasion,” the composer recounted on its website. “If I remember correctly, he said, ‘It would be cool to mix something joyful, something traditional – say, Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ – with something more contemporary – like ‘Short Ride in a Fast Machine” by John Adams.”
Markowski completed an early draft of this classic mashup in just 10 days, and it has become a popular accompaniment to Beethoven’s Ninth.
Nancy Maria Balach, president and professor of music, said she was delighted that this collaboration was supported and became part of the university’s artist series.
“This experience enriches the artistic growth of the students who will perform and the cultural growth of the Ole Miss students who will attend,” she said. “The level of musical creation will be exceptional and will be an evening that the LOU community will not want to miss.”