The air in Carmel’s Palladium was electric when the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir and a quartet of vocalists joined the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra during a Symphony Hits concert Sunday. Together they performed the imposing “Ode to Joy” during the fourth movement of Beethoven’s iconic “Symphony No. 9 in D Minor.”
Led by maestro Raymond Leppard, who is no stranger to a piece he has conducted numerous times and once recorded during his 70-year career, the orchestra played not only “Symphony No. 9” spectacularly, but also an invigorating rendition of Beethoven’s lively “Symphony No. 8,” which preceded it.
Based on a poem by Friedrich Schiller that celebrates the brotherhood and unity of all mankind, Beethoven’s choral treatment of “Ode to Joy” could not have given a more inspiring and powerful interpretation than that provided by the 100-plus voices of the choir (under artistic director Eric Stark) and the four splendid singers who joined them. They included soprano Sara Jakubiak, mezzo-soprano Michaela Martens, tenor Sean Panikkar and baritone James Westman.
The ISO and its guests, who performed this same program at its Hilbert Circle Theatre Friday, were magnificently showcased in this venue, which heavily promotes its acoustics.
Also contributing to this particular concert was the visual splendor of the orchestra, which filled the Palladium stage, and the choir, situated directly behind and above the orchestra.
While listening to the celestial sounds in such a grandiose setting, one could not help but be awed by Beethoven’s music and Schiller’s lyrics, expressed in the poem’s last stanza, regarding the existence of a divine presence.
It was a breathtaking moment as the orchestra accompanied the choir and vocalists sang:
“Do you come crashing down, you millions?
Do you sense the Creator’s presence, world?
Seek Him above the starry firmament,
For above the stars he surely dwells.”
It was also a stunning finish to a concert with an almost spiritual quality. It saw the return of conductor laureate Leppard, leading the orchestra in a performance that may long be remembered for its brilliance.
Based on the response of the full house that awarded the artists an instantaneous standing ovation and sustained applause, resulting in three curtain calls, one can safely conclude that all present experienced something truly momentous.
For tickets and information regarding upcoming Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra concerts call the box office at (317) 843-3800 or visit www.indianapolissymphony.org.
For information about the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, call (317) 940-9057 or visit www.indychoir.org.