Ode to Juneau joy

Oh friends, not these tones!


Rather, let us raise our voices in more pleasing

And more joyful sounds!



This is the English translation of the first stanza of “Ode to Joy” as written by Friedrich Schiller. It is this poem that served as the inspiration for Beethoven’s fourth movement in his Ninth Symphony. It is the perfect opening to the end of this year’s legislative session. O friends, no more these tones of moving backwards on our wealth and constitutional rights. Let us seek the more pleasing sounds that Juneau creates this time of year. Let us celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Juneau Symphony!

That we did in grand style with the over-the-top performance by 170 members of the Juneau Symphony and Chorus on April 6 and 7th. As noted by Kyle Wylie Pickett, when the Juneau Symphony first played Beethoven’s Ninth, the Juneau Symphony “moved from being a community orchestra to being a community orchestra that operated like a professional orchestra.” To walk out after hearing such a roaring professional performance and look up at the encircling mountains, I felt the rapturous joy of Juneau return.

Joy all creatures drink

At the breasts of nature;

All good, all bad

Follow her trail of roses.

Kisses she gave us, and vines,

A friend, proved to the end;

This is the fifth stanza of Schiller’s poem as modified by Beethoven. How fitting is this to Juneau? Whether it is a walk out to Nugget Falls to see the mountain goats, or having eagles soar overhead while skiing or amazing yet having orcas in the channel followed days later by a wondrous display of Northern Lights, Juneau like no other place, brings us the joy of Nature. And it is not even summer yet.

Rather it’s only Folk Festival week. And here too the magic of Juneau pervades. The guest artist, Si Kahn, sang a new song entitled “Did Juneau” as a play on the common lexicon “Did You Know”. To my surprise, here too lies a connection back to Schiller’s poem.

Here in lovely Juneau

We live at peace with nature

Feel the ocean breezes

Did Juneau, did Juneau

Juneau is my home

I am joyous that Juneau is my home. Between the Symphony, Perseverance Theater, Juneau Jazz and Classics, the Alaska Folk Festival, the JACC, the mountains, the returning salmon, the leaping whales, the ancient forests … the list goes on… how joyful it is to call Juneau home.

There are times when Juneau gets to me; when the horizontal rain and gloomy weather models the negativity in our political affairs but in the words of Collette Costa (opening remarks for her set at Folk Festival), “I may not always love this town, but I will always love this community”. Thank you Juneau Symphony and Alaska Folk Festival for bringing all this love and joy front and center.


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