In Texas, they say, everything is bigger. Rethink your thoughts. Do you consider the Rockin’ 1000 to be an enormous musical performance group? Rethink your thoughts. Since 1983, a choir consisting of 10,000 singers has assembled annually in Japan to perform the choral climax of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in December. An incredible performance results from adding the orchestra members.

The video that follows was captured in December of 2011. Yutaka Sado, the choir’s conductor since 1999 and general director, is in charge of it. In 2015, Yutaka Sado, a Japanese conductor who trained under Seiji Ozawa and Leonard Bernstein, was appointed Music Director of the Tonkünstler Orchestra, Austria’s oldest orchestra (first performance: 1907).

Jonathan Lauzon says, “Composed by a German legend, sung by a Japanese multitude, gave chills to a Canadian nobody.” GoodVibes1997 says, “As a German, I’m impressed by the perfect pronunciation, the orchestra & the sheer number of musical talent.” The singing is even better when one realizes that majority of the vocalists are amateurs who supplement professional soloists and a chamber choir. Being chosen to sing is a privilege because applications are overcrowded.

Beethoven’s Ninth is associated with Christmas in Japan. Shopping malls, community centers, and musical venues host 100s of Ninth performances. Many incorporate singalongs to the symphony’s 4th movement’s choral “Ode to Joy,” which symbolizes peace, hope, and joy. The choral libretto comes from Friedrich Schiller’s 1785 poem. A touching mini-documentary on the annual 10,000 singer performance of Ode to Joy.

The documentary showcases Beethoven’s Ninth performance in Japan during World War One, where 1000 German prisoners were confined at Bando Camp. Over 80 prisoners mastered the piece, which continued during the pandemic with virtual concerts in 2020 and 2021.