The Gateway Chamber Orchestra (GCO) presents Beethoven@250: Humanity in 2020, a free streaming online musical event celebrating composer Ludwig van Beethoven's 250th birthday on Wednesday, December 16, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. CST. The virtual concert also honors the works of two groundbreaking composers in classical music: George Walker, the first African American composer to win the Pulitzer Prize, and Jessie Montgomery, one of the most energetic and inspiring interpreters of the American ethos.
The performance, recorded in the beautiful Mabry Concert Hall on the campus of Austin Peay State University, is a fitting soundtrack to a momentous year. From the centennial anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment to the rise of the pandemic to the outcry for social justice, 2020 has made a distinctive mark on humanity. GCO captures this sentiment in an evening of moving performances that embody "tragedy to triumph," a theme made famous by classical music's most revolutionary composer.
Beethoven@250: Humanity in 2020 is the first virtual concert to be performed and streamed on YouTube by GCO. The team determined if they social distanced and followed guidelines on safety for wind instruments they would be able to stage a program that could be streamed. GCO will partner with videographer Rick Godwin to capture stunning visuals of the performance and Grammy award winning Soundmirror in Boston for sound production.
As GCO conductor Gregory Wolynec explains, the program attempts to look at Beethoven@250 through a 2020 lens. The program opens with Beethoven's dramatic and fiery Coriolan Overture which leads to a beautiful, noble second theme. It was written for a tragedy, and instead of a heroic ending, there is a pause followed by a very quiet, mysterious close. Walker's Lyric for Strings, originally titled Lament, was written as a tribute to his late grandmother when he was only 24 years old. The emotions that he felt while composing the piece are palpable in the music. The joyous Starburst by Montgomery, one of the most prominent emerging composers in America, fits the bill perfectly to pay tribute to the anniversary of women earning the right to vote. The program concludes with Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 in A, one of the finest orchestral works ever written from the optimistic first movement to the iconic second movement through the wild romp of the finale.
"This is a concert with a unique perspective allowing us to tackle more overlooked and contemporary works as well," says Wolynec. "Celebrating Beethoven within the context of such a tumultuous 2020 felt like the responsible way to handle the dramatically changed world that we now find ourselves in. We hope to provide something thoughtful and uplifting to our established audience while also introducing our talented musicians to a broader audience."
Register on Eventbrite to watch Beethoven@250: Humanity in 2020, a free virtual concert to be streamed on YouTube. It is recommended to watch the performance in a home theater environment with the best speakers available. GCO encourages families to host a virtual watch party and celebrate Beethoven by submitting photos to their Facebook page using the hashtag #beethoven250.
* * *
The Gateway Chamber Orchestra (GCO) is a nationally-recognized American cultural institution committed to enriching lives through innovative concerts, distinctive recordings, and inspiring educational programs. Conducted by Gregory Wolynec, the GCO is delighted to have a home at the George & Sharon Mabry Concert Hall on the campus of Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. The ensemble debuted in the fall of 2008, and has grown into a classically modeled chamber orchestra comprised of leading symphony players, recording musicians, and university faculty from Middle Tennessee and beyond who delight in bringing their shared passion for the world’s greatest music to the community. Visit www.gatewaychamberorchestra.com.