This 2011 Japanese performance of my absolute favorite segment of music — Beethoven’s Ode to Joy — was dedicated to the survivors of the tsunami. I don’t think that the ginormous crowd of singers works well musically — at least not in this recording — yet I still appreciate the power of the performance.
Initially, to see Japanese singers performing in German was a bit strange, but then I realized that such is the fruit of the globalization of culture. Japanese singers and musicians can recognize the beauty and power of a German symphony written in 1824, then perform it spectacularly. Then, I, wholly American, can enjoy it from the comfort of my home in Colorado.
So many people decry the globalization of culture, thinking that it means nothing more than McDonalds and Starbucks on every corner. In fact, that’s good too, for the same reason as this performance. Globalization enables each individual person to pick and choose what he values most from around the world, rather than being limited to the cultural and economic products of his own culture. We might not always agree with other people’s choices, but we’re free to make our own.