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Music

UK Youth Orchestra Plays “Ode to Joy” Alone but Together

April 19, 2020

LONDON — A nationwide lockdown didn’t stop Britain’s National Youth Orchestra from making music — alone but together.

With the country in its fourth week of isolation to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, the collection of teenage musicians from across the U.K. can’t meet in person the way they usually do during school holidays.

Instead, the orchestra’s 164 musicians opened their windows or stood their doorsteps to play 40 seconds of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” at 5 p.m. (1600 GMT) on Friday.

Members of the public across Britain joined in on myriad instruments — from violin and viola to saxophone, trombone and tuba — and posted footage of their performances on social media using the hashtag #NYOdetoJoy. In London, Anglican vicar Jeremy Fletcher gave his rendition on an electric guitar.

The performance was dedicated to health care staff, other essential workers and anyone who feels isolated in their home.

Violinist Kynan Walker, the 18-year-old orchestra leader, said the performance was intended as “a nationwide gesture of gratitude.”

“Beethoven wanted this music to be a completely new innovation for classical music, but also a message to society in terms of uniting, and this overwhelming sense of joy,” he said. “So it’s been great for us to prepare something that seems so relevant to today — especially in the circumstances that we’re in right now.”

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