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August 21, 2009

The ultimate 'Ode to Joy,' at a Proms concert in London

I complained a while back about the Baltimore Symphony's nearly annual reprise of Beethoven's Ninth for the summer season, not because I don't like the work or because I don't appreciate its ability to attract audiences, including many first-timers. It's just that I think the BSO should try to shed new perspectives on the well-worn symphony when it offers yet another reprise, and I think I've found the ultimate example.

Thanks to for alerting me to a BBC story about a performance this week in London at the venerable Proms that has greatly expanded the previous known boundaries of interpreting the famous "Ode to Joy" finale of the Ninth Symphony -- using nearly 1,000 ukuleles. Can't we be this trendy in Baltimore? Click here for a taste of how it sounded. You may never think of the "Ode" the same way again.


Posted by Tim Smith at 12:21 PM | | Comments (2)


Listeners can check out the whole concert from this link, for a few more days:

Thanks awfully. I can't wait to check it out myself. TIM

I'm sure the Ukulele association will be happy to have been called trendy! Trust you've seen this amazing clip:

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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