An ode to joy: Student choir to perform with Albany Pro Musica and Albany Symphony

Publication Date

The Union College Chamber Singers will join the acclaimed Albany Pro Musica and Albany Symphony Orchestra in performances of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on Saturday, April 22, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 23, at 3 p.m.

The concert will take place at Troy Music Hall, a National Historic Landmark known for its impeccable acoustics. Twenty students will perform, singing the epic “Ode to Joy,” the symphony’s last movement.

The event, a first for Union students, comes a year after the choir’s debut at Carnegie Hall.

“This is a historic professional debut for our students, and to do Beethoven’s Ninth is a dream,” said Shou Ping Liu, director of performance and lecturer in choral and orchestral conducting.

Following the Carnegie Hall appearance, Liu said she pondered how she could continue to challenge her students in meaningful ways. An opportunity presented itself last summer, when Liu sang with Albany Pro Musica, the Capital Region’s preeminent choral ensemble, in concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. That program also included Beethoven’s Ninth.

“During choral rehearsals, I was thinking, ‘What if my students could have the opportunity to sing with the esteemed Albany Pro Musica and be directed by its conductor, José Daniel Flores-Caraballo?”

Liu connected with Flores-Caraballo, who agreed to evaluate the Chamber Singers’ Carnegie Hall recordings.

“Maestro replied within a week, and he graciously invited the 18 members of Chamber Singers to sing with APM,” Liu said.

Symphony No. 9, Choral is considered one of the greatest and most complex symphonic compositions. It features four vocal soloists and a chorus who sing the German poet Friedrich Schiller’s poem, An die Freude (Ode to Joy). Beethoven was the first major composer to include a chorus and vocal soloists in the final movement of a symphony. When the piece premiered in 1824, he was profoundly deaf, having steadily lost his hearing while writing it.

“I have never encountered a piece of repertoire as uniquely challenging as Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony,” said Daniel Buletza ’26, a tenor and English major who has been a member of a choir since the fourth grade. “It’s very long, complex and vocally demanding, and contains multiple different sections that sound quite different from each other. Despite the difficulty that this piece of music presents, I am so grateful for the opportunity to perform it with a professional choir.”

Tackling such challenging repertoire has given me a new appreciation for classical music,” said Arundhati Gore ’24, a double major in biochemistry and history who has a minor in music. A soprano, she was among the students who sang at Carnegie Hall last year. “Being a part of the Chamber Singers has given me opportunities I had never envisioned.”

Meeting once a week for two hours, the choir has been preparing for its newest debut since fall term.

“As exciting as it is, it is a huge undertaking to prepare this colossal work,” said Liu. “It is extremely moving to see how all of the students are practicing toward this single goal. It attests to the fact that even though Union is not a conservatory, there really are no limits to our students’ excellence.”

In addition to Beethoven’s Ninth, the concert program will include Blue Electra for Violin and Orchestra by American composer Michael Daugherty, featuring American concert violinist Anne Akiko Meyer.

The Grammy Award-winning ASO is conducted by David Alan Miller.

Ticket information can be found at Albany Pro Musica and the Albany Symphony Orchestra site.

Located in the heart of the city’s downtown, the Troy Music Hall has hosted performances by legions of legendary artists, including Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Isaac Stern and Yo-Yo Ma.

Union College Chamber Singers

Soprano: Cora Bessette ‘26, Arundhati Gore ‘24, Francesca Morone ‘26, Cagla Numanoglu ‘26, Ysabela Paneto ‘26, Sophia Pegolo ‘26, Ashley Wright ‘26

Alto: Julia Borden ‘26, Rebecca Perkins ‘26, Faith Potter ‘25, Sarah Unger ‘26

Tenor: Daniel Buletza ‘26, Jackson Janney ‘24, Spencer Newman ‘25, Aaron Rueter ‘25

Bass: Jared Antoine ‘26, Aidan McAuliffe ‘23, Corbin Velonis ‘25