School of Music to perform Beethoven’s 9th


Courtesy Photo

Several performance groups within the UNI School of Music are collaborating to present “Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 “Choral” on Sunday, April 28 in the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center.


Approximately 270 students, faculty and alumni from the UNI School of Music will join forces to perform Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 “Choral” in the Great Hall of Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center on Sunday, April 28, at 2 p.m.

The orchestra is conducted by Rebecca Burkhardt and the choirs are directed by John Wiles and Amy Kotsonis.

“It’s a monumental work in the repertory as well as in its breadth in being able to perform it,” Burkhardt said. “It is one of those things that every conductor and every student of music should at least perform once. So, the stars aligned, and we had the right year with the right choruses and the right orchestra, and we just decided to go ahead and program it for the spring. And we started that a couple years ago because it takes a lot of planning with all the choruses and everybody in the right realm. It takes a lot of collaboration.”

Although Burkhardt has been conducting at UNI for 31 years, this will be her first time undertaking the endeavor of conducting Beethoven’s Ninth. She knows it may be many of the audience members’ only opportunity to hear a live performance of the symphony.

“I hope [the audience] never forgets the tune or the sentiment,” Burkhardt said. “I hope that they feel the empowerment of the music that we feel. That’s our job is to send that off the stage into the audience: That they feel what we feel. It’s not only infectious — it’s like a laser beam of power would just get sent into the audience, and hopefully, they will enjoy it and enjoy that it’s an uplifting experience for all.”

Symphony No. 9 was Beethoven’s last symphony, composed in 1824, just three years before his death. It remains one of the most widely-performed symphonies in the world. According to Burkhardt, Beethoven was completely deaf while writing it.

The symphony is comprised of four movements. For the first three, only the orchestra is playing on stage. The UNI Grand Chorus, which is all the UNI choirs collectively, will enter the stage to perform during the fourth movement. Overall, the whole performance will take about one hour and ten minutes.

“There’s lots of notes,” said Joel Andrews, a junior choral music education and general studies major who will be playing the French horn. “[There are] lots of important, iconic parts because everyone knows this symphony. Something Dr. Burkhardt always says is, ‘Beethoven is the ultimate equalizer in orchestras.’”

Andrews noted the high expectations the audience would bring since many people have heard the piece before.

“It’s just hard because everyone knows what it’s supposed to sound like, and if you don’t sound like that, it doesn’t sound great,” he said. “That’s a big challenge, is kind of meeting the level that the music requires.”