An Ode to Joy: Ascending Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

Conquering Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is a challenge that most conductors will face sooner or later in their career. The work is taxing enough on a professional orchestra and presents its own set of challenges for a youth/collegiate orchestra. On May 15, 2014, the Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra (OCYSO) along with The Chapman University Orchestra and combined choirs from Chapman and the University of California Irvine will present the Ninth on a special concert in celebration of the Philharmonic Society of Orange County’s 60th anniversary. OCYSO will be joined by renowned soloists Jessica Rivera, Renee Tatum, Bruce Sledge and bass to be announced.  Along with the Beethoven, OCYSO will also present the West Coast premiere of Mark Anthony Turnage’s Frieze, which was inspired by the Ninth and given its world premiere by our peers at the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain in August 2013.

Over the course of the next nine months, I look forward to sharing my experiences as I ascend this summit for the first time and guide nearly 200 pre-professionals along with me. From the planning stages of the rehearsals to score and parts preparation, I look forward to discovering the contextual place of the Ninth as particularly relevant (or perhaps not…) to the members of the Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra and The Chapman Orchestra.


Daniel Alfred Wachs is the Music Director & Conductor of the Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra and Conductor of The Chapman Orchestra.