How one composer hopes to commemorate no less than a trillion souls.

I’m thrilled that The Queensland Symphony Orchestra has commissioned me to compose a companion piece to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony to be premiered in their 2015 opening gala concert, “Ode To Joy”.

I wanted to compose something that will complement the Schiller text An die Freude– sung in the fourth movement of the Beethoven – and cast it in a 21st century light: in other words, what is the modern equivalent of the Enlightenment ideals that inspired Schiller and Beethoven?

The text I settled on is The Trillion Souls, by Andy West, a BBC reporter. In memory of the countless dead who could not marry, he addresses the trillions of gay people who’ve “lived and loved and longed alone”, inviting them to “come join us here” and “to rise up and be known.” (Yes, “trillions” is possibly an wee-bit exaggerated, but the word “billions”, while more accurate, is such a hum-drum word, appearing daily on television news and financial forecasts. Andy and I prefer “trillions”.) This earnest poem expresses what lies in the hearts and minds of most people today.

I’m dedicating the work to the memory of one of...

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