Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" celebrated in new documentary "Following the Ninth"
Special community-wide music event featuring local musicians and singers
Journey into the heart and soul of one of the great works of world art when Friends of Cooperstown Central Schools Music and Art present the central New York State premiere of Following the Ninth (directed by Kerry Candaele, 2013, 78- min) a moving exploration of the worldwide cultural and political influence of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and the "Ode to Joy." The critically acclaimed documentary will be screened at Cooperstown High School, Linden Avenue, in Cooperstown NY on Sunday May 18 at 6:30PM. The program includes a special community-wide music event featuring local musicians and singers who will perform "Ode to Joy" and lead the audience in a stirring chorus of this beloved masterwork. A live discussion follows with Greg Mitchell, the film's co-producer. Proceeds will benefit the Renovation Fund of the Cooperstown Food Pantry.
"The Cooperstown Food Pantry is delighted to be the recipient of the proceeds from what promises to be an inspiring and community building event," noted Audrey Murray, Director of Cooperstown Food Pantry. "We provide emergency food assistance to an average of 600 – 700 northern Otsego County neighbors every month. This event will help us achieve our goal of making our Pantry's current location at the First Presbyterian Church more accessible to those in need."
Following the Ninth takes viewers on a cinematic journey across five continents to explore the symphony's fascinating history as a potent anthem of hope and solidarity. Featuring (among others) Chilean demonstrators who sang the Ode outside a torture prison, a Chinese student organizer who broadcast the Ode at Tiananmen Square, an East Berliner who heard Leonard Bernstein conduct the Ninth after the Wall fell, and the Japanese nation's devotion to the Ninth (where it is sung in hundreds of concerts around the country every December) the film reveals why, nearly 200 years after its first performance in 1824, Beethoven's masterwork continues to resonate with audiences around the globe, repairing and renewing the human spirit.
The film reminds us how Beethoven, completely deaf and adrift from the people he loved, composed his Ninth Symphony in a transcendent act towards the end of his life. Looking into his own abyss, Beethoven wrote the Ode to Joy for himself, setting to music the key line from German poet Fredrich Schiller's "Alle Menschen werden Bruder" (All Men Will Become Brothers). Today, the Ninth Symphony is regarded as a monumental work of art, a celebration of our human capacity for creating connections to everything and everyone around us.
"The film is beautiful and powerful," declares broadcast journalist Bill Moyers. "If millions could experience its affirming and incandescent message, we might turn around the destructive dynamics that are overwhelming the earth." The Village Voice praised Following the Ninth for the way "each anecdote builds upon the next to create that rarest of films: a documentary as ineffable and transformative in its reach as it sets out to be." The film was featured on NPR, and the New York Times pronounced Following the Ninth "thrilling. Smartly assembled and gracefully paced."
Filmmaker Kerry Candaele and his co-producer, Greg Mitchell, are two longtime rock 'n rollers who share a passion for Beethoven that each man discovered in late middle age. Candaele is a writer, musician and filmmaker, whose credits include A League of Their Own, a documentary about his mother's experience in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. (This documentary was later turned into a blockbuster hit by Columbia Pictures with the same title starring Tom Hanks, Madonna, and Geena Davis.)
Mitchell, the evening's featured speaker, writes a daily blog for The Nation on media, politics and culture. He began his career at "Crawdaddy," the first US magazine of rock and roll criticism, where he contributed to the first major article about Bruce Springsteen. Mitchell is also former editor of Editor & Publisher and author of thirteen nonfiction books, covering topics that range from infamous political campaigns, to WikiLeaks, to the 2012 Obama-Romney race, to relations between the press and U. S. government, to books on Hiroshima and the death penalty in America (co-authored with Robert Jay Lifton).
"I've written my entire career about politics and I'm interested and inspired by the message of The Ninth Symphony," says Mitchell. "But even without its political message (all men will become brothers) the Ninth would still be an incredible piece of music."
Candaele recalls the first time he heard the Ninth, as a young twenty-something, cruising down the California coast one day in the early 70's, driving a borrowed car, listening to a cassette tape he randomly popped in the deck. "I was shocked and transported, " remembers Candaele. "But I lived with the Ninth for years before I discovered that the symphony had a grand history in our time." Candaele doesn't pretend that his documentary is "worthy of Beethoven or the magnificent symphony that inspired this film." Rather, says Candaele, "to get the Ninth exactly right is an impossible task, but that effort, the act of creating, is its own reward."
Immediately following the evening's program, Mitchell will be available to sign copies of "Journeys with Beethoven: Following the Ninth and Beyond," the book he co-wrote with Kerry Candaele.
Tickets are $15 for adults; $10 for seniors, $5 for students age 13 through college age (with ID). Children under 12 are free if accompanied by an adult. Patrons' tickets include a special reception with the presenter after the film – off campus — and are $40 each or two for $75. Ticket orders with checks should be mailed to: Cooperstown Food Pantry, Attention: Benefit Tickets, 25 Church Street, Cooperstown, NY 13326. Please include address, email and telephone number with your ticket order for confirmation.