#Ode2Joy Challenge: once more in full swing across Europe!

9 May marked the culmination of the #Ode2Joy Challenge, which was launched by Europa Nostra and its President Plácido Domingo at the beginning of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018. At a crucial time, this second edition of the challenge mobilised many young and enthusiastic citizens from Europe and beyond in response to Maestro Domingo’s renewed call for contributions. Not only this was Europe Day, but also the day when EU leaders discussed the Future of Europe at the European Council in Sibiu, just two weeks before the European Elections.  No less than 60 creative reinterpretations of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” celebrating our shared cultural heritage and values were promoted on social media. Recorded at meaningful heritage sites, these “Ode to Europe” videos are the true embodiment of our “Unity in Diversity”. So far this year, 21 countries participated: 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!

Two very symbolic contributions came from Serbia. The Children’s Philharmonic, under the direction of professor Ljubiša Jovanović, and in cooperation with the organisation Ars Quadra, recorded their reinterpretation in the Kalamegdan park where the Belgrade Fortress lies. This latter is currently endangered by a harmful cable-car project which triggered a wide citizen campaign. The second contribution was performed by the Chorus of Music School “Mihailo Vukdragović”, led by Verica Mitrović and recorded at the Jewish Museum in Sabac.

Another two contributions were submitted from Romania, which is holding the Presidency of the Council of the EU from January until June 2019. The Asociația Culturala “Patrimoniu pentru Viitor” featured a mix of European and national heritage traditions in their video filmed at the Old Western Art Museum of the Romanian Academy and The Folk Art Museum of the Bucharest Municipality Museum. The Cultura Romanian Association shared a reinterpretation of the “Ode to Joy” sung in the Arman/Aromanian language, which is mentioned in the UNESCO Red Book as an endangered language.

Some eight contributions came from Spain, including one from former EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra award winner Casa Batlló in Barcelona and two outstanding from La Palma in the Canary Islands. The Hotel de Hacienda de Abajo featured beautiful heritage landscapes of the island with a gipsy version of the “Ode to Joy” as musical background”. The Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias and its very enthusiastic staff transported us in their impressive premises where they recorded their modern version of the European Anthem.

Nicosia, the divided capital of Cyprus, was also an inspiring place for contributions. A 12-year-old Armenian-Cypriot boy sung the Ode to Joy at the Centre of Visual Arts & Research run by Europa Nostra’s member organisation the Costas & Rita Severis Foundation. On the occasion of the Europe Day celebrations, the Nicosia Municipality honoured the Davilla bastion of the Nicosia Venetian Walls with a performance by a string quartet.

The Children’s Choir of Cyclades Orchestra performed the “Ode to Joy” in the Apollon Theater in the island of Syros in Greece. This contribution was recorded on the occasion of the presentation of the action “100 Buildings / 100 Stories”, a European Heritage Days Story, supported by South Aegean Region’s Managing Authority and Municipality of Syros – Ermoupolis.

Finally, at European level, the network ERIH (European Route of Industrial Heritage) initiated the second edition of its European dance “WORK it OUT”. The music of this flash mob-like contest is based on Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” and gathered young participants at various industrial heritages sites across Europe.

All contributions to the #Ode2Joy Challenge can be found on the dedicated YouTube Playlist. A selection of contributions to this second edition will be compiled in a video and shared online. The challenge will continue again in 2020 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven – stay tuned!

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