Two years ago, 1000 musicians crowded into the Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento and filled it with sound, playing classical favorites and including musicians from all ages and abilities. It was record-breaking, the largest gathering of its kind in California.
“Heart pounding joy” and “overwhelming euphoria” are two ways people have described the feeling of being a part of such a huge number musicians. Imagine what the reaction will be this year when Symphony 1000 becomes Symphony 2000 on Sunday, November 20.
Set to consist of 1000 instrumentalists and 1000 vocalists, the inspiration for the event came after Michael Neumann, conductor and artistic director of the Sacramento Youth Symphony, had been studying Gustav Mahler’s 8th Symphony. It is nicknamed the “Symphony of a Thousand,” because it includes so many instruments and vocalists.
Neumann had a dream that night about what a Symphony of 1000 could look like and what it could do. Since he believes that music is capable of bringing healing to the world, he wanted to create a something unprecedented.
“We do this as a community wide, cultural, social and historical event,” said Neumann. “An event where no one feels left out.”
The Youth Symphony is the primary sponsor and all of its 300 students take part. Not all the participants will be students; however, Neumann’s vision is to include a wide age and ability range. He and the Youth Symphony is calling out to the community to fill the remaining spots, which is open to all interested instrumentalists and vocalists.
“I got an email from a woman who hadn’t played since high school,” said Neumann. “She’s now about 60 and said the experience was life changing. Life changing! After Symphony 1000, she started playing with an orchestra in the Bay Area.”
Many participants have similar stories. Some have played a short time. Some have kept their instruments, but haven’t played since high school. Some have never played in a group, and some are accomplished professional musicians.
To this variety of instrumentalists, Neumann is adding choir members this year.
“All singers should be able to join with us,” Neumann said. “People shouldn’t shy away because they think they don’t have a great voice. They’ll be with a thousand other voices. They can just sing what they can.”
With 2000 performers, the challenge has been finding a venue that will accommodate the crowd and the audience. This year’s concert will again be in the historic Memorial Auditorium on J Street. It seats 3,867 and Neumann is considering live streaming the concert if it sells out. He would like to see the event touch as many people as possible.
“This event is so large, so monumental, the audience can’t help but become a part of it,” said Neumann.
Instruments that will be participating are violin, viola, cello, double bass, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, saxophone, french horn, trumpet, trombone, euphonium/tuba, and percussion.
For anyone considering playing, the music is now available online. People can look at the repertoire and begin practicing. Symphony 2000 will include a rehearsal before the concert, a concert that is sure to be historic, record-breaking, and inspiring.
Interested instrumentalists and vocalists can register at sacramentoyouthsymphony.org. Guests can also soon buy tickets at the same website.