Celebrating the University of Concepción’s 99th anniversary, the Concepción Symphony Orchestra and the UdeC Choir offered four concerts with Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, “Choral”. After performances in Chillán and Los Ángeles, the magnus opus was brought to the UdeC Theater for a concert exclusive for the university community on Friday 11 May, and finally for an evening with free admission on Saturday 12. The theater became too small to accomodate the massive audience that enthusiastically attended this last event.

The orchestra was very well ensembled and assured under the baton of experienced maestro Francisco Rettig, who led a rather traditional reading of the so well-known score, except for a few peculiarities in the tempo choices. The last section of the third movement flowed with such an agile tempo that it seemed to sway like a waltz, in sharp contrast with the almost static moments in the recitativo for low strings that opens the fourth movement.

Baritone Cristian Moya gave a very respectable and courageous performance, replacing Rodrigo Navarrete on such a short notice that he didn’t have the chance to rehearse with the orchestra. The other soloists were excellent: Patricia Cifuentes (soprano) and Gloria Rojas (contralto), both frequent soloists in our last seasons, and tenor Brayan Ávila, who was debuting at the UdeC Theater after winning Third Prize in the “Laguna Mágica” Competition last January. His solo in the “Alla marcia” passage was simply spectacular.

The UdeC Choir, especially reinforced for the occasion, looked and sounded immense, very well prepared and suitably euphoric in the explosive conclusion of the “Ode to Joy”, which led to an equally euphoric ovation from the audience of this unforgettable university celebration.