MCP Records Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 for the 21st Century

Photo of choir on stage Heinz Hall

Photo credit: Ed DeArmitt

“This work cannot be done without outstanding voices, so we are delighted to have fantastic partners on this endeavor—our superb Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh…”

~Maestro Manfred Honeck on the 2021 release of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 on Reference Records


With the 2021 release of Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 on Reference Records comes a celebration of one of the most iconic pieces in the choral music canon, the ubiquitous “Ode to Joy.” When asked about their experiences with this powerful work, a flood of memories poured forth from MCP singers. What is it about this nearly 200-year-old piece that creates such an emotional response? Find out first hand from the singers themselves:
“I’ve sung [Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9] with the PSO at least 10 times now, and there’s something about it that gives us a real connection with the audience. I’ll never forget watching from the stage as a father lifts his young son into his seat. And at the end, the thunderous applause as if we’ve made a touchdown for the Steelers!” ~Sibyl Mierley, alto


“‘You HAVE to hear it live’ I told him. Forward to June 2019 and they were at the Sunday afternoon performance. They are all still talking about it. And, so am I. Manfred never does anything the same way twice and the energy he brought out of the symphony and the chorus for this series of performances was unlike any I have ever performed. It was memorable.” ~MaryColleen Seip, soprano and MCP Chorus Manager


“The way it all comes together…it fills you with joy the more and more you get into it and the more you sing it and by the end you feel like you’re exploding. I think it’s like a musical onomatopoeia for the word ‘joy.'” ~Holly Furman, soprano


“I have sung the Beethoven 9 in concert I would think somewhere around 20 times. It is my favorite piece to perform. There is something extremely special sitting onstage for the first 3 movements and drinking in the sound. Think of it, the last symphony written by Beethoven, he was totally deaf but heard it all in his head, the story of the audience going wild at the end and the conductor needing to turn Beethoven around to witness it because he couldn’t hear it.  And then the immortal line in the Ode to Joy, ‘Alle menschen werden bruder’ [All people become brothers] – a sentiment we are still working on 3 years short of 200 years later!” ~Timothy Ore, tenor


“I’ve sung this many times under many conductors at the PSO, including the recent recording. Never gets tiring!” ~Karen Crenshaw, soprano


The 2021 release of Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra featuring the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh can be purchased directly from Reference Recordings, Amazon, or your favorite classical music retailer.
Read the PSO’s press release.
Listen in to the New York Times interview with Maestro Manfred Honeck.


Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9
MCP Performances since 1950

The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh has sung the iconic “Ode to Joy” with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra 49 times since 1950, with 10 different conductors!
While MCP is not credited, archivist Barry Miller found our first known recording of the piece with William Steinberg and the PSO, originally on Command Classics (re-released in 2020 by Deutsche Grammophon).


Year – Conducted By
April 12th and 14th
1957 – William Steinberg (Recording re-released by Deutsche Grammophon, 2020)
April 1st and 3rd
1966 – William Steinberg
May 24th and 26th
1968 – William Steinberg
May 21st and 23rd
1971 – William Steinberg
October 5th and 6th
1972 – Nicolas Petrov
May 21st and 23rd
1976 – William Steinberg
May 18, 19, 21st
1978 – André Previn
April 19th
1979 – Jeff Holland Cook
May 21, 22, 23rd
1981 – André Previn
September 5, 6, 7th
1986 – Lorin Maazel
February 23rd, 25th, March 4th
1990 – Lorin Maazel (Carnegie Hall, NYC)
May 12th and 14th
1994 – Lorin Maazel
November 6th
1999 – Gunther Herbig
May 11, 12, 13th
2001 – Mariss Jansons
May 21, 22, 23rd
2005 – Mariss Jansons
June 7th and 8th
2007 – Andrew Davis
June 4, 5, 6th
2010 – Manfred Honeck
April 26, 27, 28th
2013 – Manfred Honeck
June 5, 6, 7th
2015 – Manfred Honeck
June 6, 7, 8, 9th
2019 – Manfred Honeck (Released on Reference Recordings, 2021)