In the middle of the day in a town square in Sabadell, Catalonia, a single cellist wearing a full tuxedo with tails begins playing Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. Soon another cellist comes along and joins in as people milling around the square begin to take notice. A minute later more musicians filter in and the sound grows bigger. Another minute and the full orchestra and choir have floated in, layering on sound with almost overwhelming majestic heft and depth. The square is now soaring with music, building to a thunderous crescendo as people watch in awe. It makes your heart want to explode.
That flash mob was filmed in 2012. There’s something about this season that makes me want to return to this happening year after year. But watching it now in 2023 is different. A new layer has been added to the experience, a bittersweet wisdom about the small miracle of people coming together and the small miracle of music that can send your heart soaring and help heal what is broken. I hope listening takes you somewhere transcendent.