Berkeley Symphony rounds out its season with a sold-out concert performance of the monumental Ninth Symphony of Beethoven, led by someone whose association with the piece goes back to his infancy. Ken-David Masur guest conducts the orchestra, and a chorus of more than 150 voices in concert tonight at Zellerbach Hall.
There’s more information at the Berkeley Symphony website.
Ken-David Masur says he can’t remember a time when he didn’t know the Ninth symphony… “Something that I heard since I was a baby, probably, that I can remember. And then actually performing it myself before I was ten years old, already singing it by memory with the Gewandhaus Orchestra and the chorus.” His father, Kurt Masur led that orchestra in East Germany before the reunification, and conducted the memorable performance which celebrated when the Iron Curtain came down. “When I recall the time in Leipzig,” the younger Masur says, “the peaceful demonstrations happened, and every Monday people would gather out on the streets with peaceful prayers for new beginnings. So to me this piece runs very deep. The message runs deep, and also because I performed it through the time of the reunification of Germany.” He says he believes in the call for brotherhood among all people in Schiller’s text, especially now. “And for people to move closer together, in trust and in love. Something that is, I think, very cynically regarded as utopia in many parts of the world, including where we are, because a lot of things have replaced trust among people. People are going to go, ‘Oh my goodness, this sounds too mushy-mushy,’ …but really this message of giving each other hugs of love and of trust – there are people who are fortunate enough to still experience that, and we want everyone to experience that.”