#Ode2Joy Challenge

Europa Nostra and its President Maestro Plácido Domingo are inviting citizens from the whole of Europe to participate in the #Ode2Joy Challenge on Europe Day which is celebrated annually on 9 May. Launched at the beginning of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, this creative initiative celebrates our shared cultural heritage and values as a positive and cohesive force for Europe and its citizens.

Participants are encouraged to make their own Ode to Europe by sharing on social media their reinterpretations of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” recorded at a meaningful heritage site. Maestro Plácido Domingo has also shared his own contribution: he conducted a performance of the “Ode to Joy” sang by a powerful chorus of 40 rising opera stars recorded in the historic Opera Theatre of Sao Carlos in Lisbon, Portugal, during the rehearsals for the final gala evening of the 2018 Operalia’s World Opera Competition.

For the first edition of the challenge during the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, over 130 contributions to the #Ode2Joy Challenge have been shared online from over 25 countries across Europe and beyond. A wide variety of convinced Europeans have accepted the challenge: from many enthusiastic citizens, but also to renowned artists (such as Maltese Tenor Joseph Calleja or Portuguese Fado singer Katia Guerreiro), famous choral ensembles (such as the RTÉ Philharmonic Choir), schools (such as the Natolin Choir of the College of Europe), and European policy-makers (such as European Commissioner for Culture Tibor Navracsics).

The participation of several European networks (e.g. ERIH , E-FAITH or the European Historic Houses Association) gave a particularly symbolic European dimension to the challenge, which also reached countries outside of the European Union and other continents through the large network of European delegations.

For its second edition in 2019, no less than 60 creative reinterpretations of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” have been recorded at heritage sites and promoted on social media from some 21 participating countries: going from Spain, France, Germany, Poland, Latvia, Ukraine, down to Romania, Serbia, Italy, Cyprus or Malta, and also stretching outside our continent to the United States, Ethiopia and Peru! Held just two weeks before the European elections and on the day when EU leaders discussed the Future of Europe at the European Council in Sibiu, this was a stark reminder of Europe’s “Unity in Diversity”.

The challenge will continue again in 2020 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven – stay tuned!

All contributions to the #Ode2Joy Challenge can be viewed via the dedicated YouTube playlist.

You can download promotional guidelines and social media material here.


  • Everybody can do it and any creative initiative is welcome: e.g. a musical performance of Beethoven’s and Schiller’s original score or a reinterpretation, a photograph, a video, a drawing, a cartoon, an app, a game, design, a story or a poem. The participation of schools is also strongly encouraged;
  • Record your creation at a heritage site which matters to you: a small chapel, a famous historic theatre, a garden in your village, a museum in your town, or in front of a beautiful landscape, the choice is yours!
  • Share it on 9 May (Europe Day) on social media (TwitterFacebookInstagramYouTube) – using the hashtag #Ode2Joy and mentioning Europa Nostra’s social media account. It is also possible to submit your contribution by email to odetojoy@europanostra.org (it will be published by Europa Nostra).


  • 31 January 2018: Official launch of the #Ode2Joy Challenge by Maestro Plácido Domingo in a video released on the occasion of the Belgian launch event of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 and the related Citizens’ Dialogue in Brussels.
  • February-April 2018: imaginative and dynamic promotion of the #Ode2Joy Challenge & mobilisation of a large range of supporters/contributors (heritage sites, networks, artists, schools & the general public).
  • 5 May 2018: a dedicated #Ode2Joy Challenge booth was installed in front of the Berlaymont Building on the occasion of the EU Open Day event. Many enthusiastic visitors stopped by and creatively contributed to the challenge (see video).
  • 9 May 2018 / Europe Day: The first contributions to the #Ode2Joy Challenge from across and beyond Europe were revealed on social media. On this occasion, a special event with reinterpretations of the Ode to Joy in various styles was organised by Europa Nostra in Bougival near Paris (France) in collaboration with the Centre Européen de Musique and the City of Bougival.
  • 22 June 2018: Video clips compiling a selection of “Ode to Joy” reinterpretations were shown during the European Heritage Awards Ceremony on 22 June in Berlin, which was co-hosted by Maestro Plácido Domingo and EU Commissioner Tibor Navracsics, in the presence of Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Federal President of Germany, and 800 participants in the audience.
  • 21 February 2019: Europa Nostra and its President Plácido Domingo renewed their call for participation in the #Ode2Joy Challenge announced on the occasion of the “Civil Society for rEUnaissance” event organised in Brussels by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and its President Luca Jahier. During the musical intermezzo, the most creative #Ode2Joy Challenge contribution “Euphonia” was for the first time performed live by Valentina Volpe Andreazza and her team of artists from Milan (Italy).
  • March-April 2019: Active online campaign and on-going promotion of the previous contributions to the #Ode2Joy Challenge.
  • 9 May 2019: Wide citizen’s mobilization for Europe Day and new contributions to the #Ode2Joy Challenge revealed on social media.
  • 19 June 2019: Video compilation of contributions to the #Ode2Joy Challenge 2019 was showcased during the Capacity Building Days for Young Heritage Professionals in Athens, Greece.

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