Sabadell, Catalonia’s second biggest town, does not come in the news very often. Just twenty kilometers from Barcelona, Catalonia’s capital and biggest city, it is the quintessential step daughter that was never treated at par. Neither does it have Barca’s glitz, nor glamour, nor its touristy appeal. It certainly does not have Lionel Messi. Why, there would be very few outside the country who would have even heard its name. And yet last month Sabadell shot into the news, especially of the Youtube kind, when Banco, Spain’s fifth largest Bank company decided to celebrate their 130th year anniversary.
By orchestrating a flash mob.
And just maybe, when the heads were sitting together with the Creatives, and asked them ‘to orchestrate a flash mob, the latter took their words so literally, that they ended up calling an orchestra to be the performers in the flash mob. Later, they called it the ‘Som Sabadell’ (We Are Sabadell) Flash Mob.
The song the orchestra chose to perform on was the “Ode to Joy”, originally written by the German poet Friedrich Schiller in 1785, who later went on to call it a “failure” and “maybe of value only to the two of us” in a letter to his friend Korner for whom he had written the song. The song was then used by Beethoven in his ninth symphony and that elevated it to cult status. In 1972, the Beethoven Setting was adopted as the anthem of Europe. Stanley Kubrick used it in his movie “Clockwork Orange”, so did the makers of the Die Hard series. Triple H used the song as his theme in the World Wrestling Federation for sometime, and I am not sure what Beethoven would feel about that.
With over 8 million views on Youtube, the Som Sabadell flash mob has become one of the most viewed and most liked videos online.
However, some people have said that it does not qualify as a flashmob, especially on the video’s comments section. Wikipedia defines flash mob-as, “a group of people who assemble suddenly in a place, perform an unusual and seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, and artistic expression. Flash mobs are organized via telecommunications, social media, or viral emails.
“The term, coined in 2003, is generally not applied to events and performances organized for the purposes of politics (such as protests), commercial advertisement, publicity stunts that involve public relation firms, or paid professionals. In these cases of a planned purpose for the social activity in question, the term smart mobs is often applied instead.”
Flash mob or no flash mob, watch the video. Watch it for unlike other flash mobs the performers aren’t the youth or gen-y this time, watch it for the way one of the first violinists in the video doffs his hat and begins his part, watch it for the grace of it all. Watch for the looks of surprise of the public that gradually gives way to a feeling of pride as they all join in the singing, for the kids who are completely taken in by the stylish conductor and his movements and the song. Watch it for the beauty that is captured in the five minutes that it takes place, watch it for the little daughter perched on her daddy’s shoulders. Watch it for the confirmation feeling that it arouses in your being – of goodness being there in different parts of the world.
Friedrich Schiller, you and your friend weren’t the only ones for whom the song held value. Two hundred fifty years after you composed it, there are millions singing it in Europe, in Asia and the rest of the world.
Oh Beethoven, you bloody beauty.