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Thousands of Irish students to perform Beethoven’s Ode to Joy to celebrate 50 years of Ireland’s membership of the European Union

More than 470 schools and groups across Ireland are preparing to perform Ár nAmhrán/Our Anthem - Beethoven’s Ode to Joy - on Europe Day, 8-9 May.


The initiative is part of EU50, the Government’s programme of events from January 2022 to May 2023 celebrating Ireland’s membership of the European Union over the last 50 years. The Department of Foreign Affairs, in partnership with the Department of Education and the Royal Irish Academy of Music, invited schools at all levels to learn, rehearse and perform our EU Anthem to celebrate our shared European values and citizenship.


Thousands of students will take part in live performances in schools to mark Europe Day, using a vast range of instrumental arrangements and singing in Irish, English, Irish Sign Language and Ukrainian, as well as the original German.


As the final event of the EU50 programme, the National Symphony Orchestra will give a gala performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, including the Ode to Joy, at the National Concert Hall on the evening of 9 May, Europe Day. A special EU50 Choir assembled for the concert by conductor David Brophy will include young singers and EU nationals living in Ireland, complementing the schools’ performances over the two days.


Speaking today, Tánaiste, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence, Micheál Martin TD said:

I am inspired by the passion and imagination shown by teachers, students and communities across Ireland in embracing this shared expression of our European identity, as we reflect on the positive influence of 50 years of the EU in our lives as Irish and European citizens.”


Minister for Education Norma Foley TD said:

 “I am delighted that so many students and schools in Ireland will join in this special celebration on Europe Day and help to mark Ireland’s 50 years of European Union membership. This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase creativity and talent, music, language and diversity, and I look forward to hearing this great work interpreted by children and young people all around the country, joyfully demonstrating how our lives and our communities are enriched by our shared European values and citizenship.”


ENDS Press Office 05 May 2023


Notes for Editors:

  • Ár nAmhrán/ Our Anthem EU50 is part of the Government of Ireland’s EU50 programme celebrating Ireland’s membership of the European Union.
  • It is a partnership between the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Education and the Royal Irish Academy of Music.
  • The Royal Irish Academy of Music was commissioned by the Government to develop an accessible and inclusive menu of options to learn and perform the anthem, including several hundred fully interoperable musical arrangements for a huge variety of classical, traditional and popular instruments and ensembles.
  • Versions for singing in Irish, English and Ukrainian as well as the original German were available.
  • The project culminates in live performances of the anthem leading in to Europe Day, 8-9 May 2023, providing an opportunity to engage citizens of all ages in celebrating Ireland’s EU membership in this 50th anniversary year.
  • Schools were invited to publish their performances from 1 May on social media under #OurAnthemEU50, as appropriate.
  • Ár nAmhrán/Our Anthem EU50 is an opportunity to re-emphasise the role the EU plays in the lives of European citizens and the cultural and linguistic diversity of Europe.