Alabama Symphony Orchestra’s Carlos Izcaray on why Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 is special. See it performed this weekend at the Alys Stephens Center (May 31, and June 1)

EBV5447 1 Alabama Symphony Orchestra's Carlos Izcaray on why Beethoven's Symphony No.9 is special. See it performed this weekend at the Alys Stephens Center (May 31, and June 1)
Alabama Symphony Orchestra Music Director, Carlos Izcaray. Photo courtesy of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.

Whether you’re an avid fan of the orchestra, or you’ve never been to see one before, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard Beethoven. What is perhaps one of the most famous and greatest orchestral symphonies of all time, Beethoven’s Symphony No.9., is being performed by the Alabama Symphony Orchestra in Birmingham this weekend (May 31, June 1). Bham Now spoke with ASO Music Director, Carlos Izcaray, to find out why this piece of music is so special.

The Alabama Symphony Orchestra concludes it’s cycle of Beethoven symphonies this weekend (Friday, May 31, and Saturday, June 1, at 7.00pm) at UAB’s Alys Stephens Center.

It’s not too late to get tickets! A limited amount remain.

ASO Beethoven Facebook Alabama Symphony Orchestra's Carlos Izcaray on why Beethoven's Symphony No.9 is special. See it performed this weekend at the Alys Stephens Center (May 31, and June 1)
Alabama Symphony Orchestra’s Beethoven Symphony Cycle, concludes May 31 and June 1 at UAB’s Alys Stephens Center. Photo via Alabama Symphony Orchestra Facebook.

The Ode to Joy: Beethoven’s Ninth, is the final complete symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven, first performed in Vienna on May 7, 1824.

Although Beethoven was almost entirely deaf by this time, he wanted to be part of the performance and was on stage in Vienna to indicate the tempos. It’s said that the orchestra had two conductors to follow on stage that evening.

This weekend in Birmingham, Carlos Izcaray, Music Director of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, will be responsible for conducting Beethoven’s triumphant ninth symphony, featuring the ASO Chorus and Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church Choir. It will be a performance you’ll not want to miss!

Carlos Izcaray on Beethoven’s Ninth

I spoke with Carlos to find out more about Beethoven, and here’s what he had to say:

Alabama Symphony Orchestra
Carlos Izcaray, photo courtesy of Alabama Symphony Orchestra

Bham Now: What makes Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony so special?

Carlos Izcaray: Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is a monumental work with a special universal message of brotherhood, friendship, and of joy. It’s an opportunity to have the most gorgeous music performed and bringing everybody together as one community.

Bham Now: This symphony has a massive choral finale – what’s that been like to work with?

Carlos Izcaray: The beauty of the Ninth Symphony is that no matter how many times you play it, no matter how many times you hear it, every time that it happens it’s a special event. The fact that the voices come in at the very finale’, this is something special that had never been done historically. When the voices come in it’s always magical and has a big impact on everybody. That’s why it’s such a popular piece.

Bham Now:  You began the Beethoven cycle in January. Tell us about the journey.

Carlos Izcaray:  This has been a very rewarding marathon for the ASO and for our audience. Many people have attended all of them, or a good number of them. This has been an opportunity to explore a fantastic repertoire of some of the best music ever written. The fact that it was written by one person makes it even more remarkable. This was also an opportunity to explore other works that have some sort of tie, or are inspired by Beethoven, or pieces that inspired him. So we have been able to explore his epic life; all of the political things that happened during his lifetime, his struggle with losing his hearing, his spiritual side, and his love for nature.

Bham Now: What is coming up for the Alabama Symphony Orchestra to round off the season?

Carlos Izcaray: We have our final gift for the community as we wrap up our season with the three FREE concerts Symphony in the Summer at Railroad Park (June 7,8, and 9, sponsored by Regions Bank). We get to play outdoors and share music with the community in a very informal and fun atmosphere. Details are available from and we hope to see lots of you there.

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Symphony in the Summer will be happening at Railroad Park, June 7,8 & 9, 2019. Photo via Alabama Symphony Orchestra

See the Alabama Symphony Orchestra perform The Ode to Joy: Beethoven’s Ninth

Birmingham, Alabama, Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Carmina Burana, Rite of Spring
The Alabama Symphony Orchestra is set to play The Ode to Joy: Beethoven’s Ninth

When: Friday, May 31, and Saturday, June 1. 7.00pm

Where: UAB Alys Stephens Center – Jemison Concert Hall

Program to Include: Ludwig van Beethoven: Great Fague, Johannes Brahms: Haydn Variations, Ludwig Van Beethoven: Symphony No.9

Buy Tickets here


Experience ‘Ode to Joy’ and Symphony in the Summer with Alabama Symphony Orchestra. Get the details here.

Jon Eastwood
Jon Eastwood

Originally from Wales (UK) and a fluent Welsh speaker. Longtime sustainability and recycling champion. Former county recycling manager in the UK. Career highlights include introducing innovative recycling systems and achieving a point where households throw out trash just once a month. Competed in international coastal rowing championships and followed Wales throughout Europe in their Rugby and Soccer endeavours.

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