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BPO is on the trail of Beethoven’s greatest symphony

Beethoven’s Ninth, which the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra will be playing at 8 p.m. March 21 and 2:30 p.m. March 22, is more than a symphony. It is an internationally recognized anthem of hope and universal brotherhood. The 2013 documentary “Following the Ninth” shows how people all over the world have taken the Ninth to heart. The poem by Schiller that became the “Ode to Joy” was in itself an inspiration, but the magic lies in the music. As one man tells us, in what sounds like an African accent: “It enters your bloodstream, and changes who you are.”

“Following the Ninth” does what the title promises. It follows the Ninth Symphony around the world, as people tell what it means to them. The Ninth played at Germany’s Brandenburg Gate as the Berlin Wall came down. During a ruthless military coup in Chile, it raised the spirits of political prisoners. Most poignantly, the Ninth resounded from makeshift speakers during the Chinese student rebellion in Tiananmen Square. “It gave us hope,” one revolutionary explains.

“Following the Ninth” is a wonderful way to prime yourself for the BPO’s upcoming performance, as well as to celebrate the unceasing power of sublime classical music. The movie will be screened at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Woldman Theater, 112 Norton Hall, University at Buffalo’s North Campus, Amherst. Tickets are $10, and $5 for students and for ticketholders to either of the BPO’s upcoming Beethoven Festival concerts (must present ticket). For advance tickets, call 885-5000 or visit

– Mary Kunz Goldman

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