There really is no better way to end a day of 14 talks, plus myriad other 3-minute "interstitial" talks as the terrific TED blogger Chel calls them, than with the TED Prize talks. After a day of intense information flow and mind-bending technologies and concepts, it's a relief to have these Prize issues brought to the forefront in a way that says "I want to do this particular good, and YOU can help." It marries the intellectual with the emotional. But I also think back to last year's talk by Ben Zander. If you watch it on the TED site, you don't get the full experience. After the portion of the talk you see online ended, Zander led us all in singing Schiller's "Ode to Joy" which Beethoven famously set to music in the chorale of his Ninth Symphony. It had been a long day of wonderful talks, but there was something in that singing together, with abandon after much coaxing and encouragement by Zander, going "beyond the f*ck it." It was uplifting and connected us all to the wonder and beauty we are all capable of, giving us another door in to the belief that the things we were hearing and experiencing were, in fact, possible.
During Elizabeth Gilbert's talk yesterday, she spoke of performers who, when they seemed to transcend their art, their audience would shout "Allah! Allah!" because they believed God was with the performer. As people migrated and language changed, this cheer became "Ole! Ole!"
After Jose Antonio Abreu's TED Prize talk, we were treated live via satellite to a concert. I assume this is the primary Venezuelan Youth Orchestra. Led by outstanding conductor Gustavo Dudumel, himself a product of Abreu's El Sistema, they gave a vigorous, inspired, buoyant performance. Here in Palm Springs, the response was visceral--there wasn't a simple standing ovation. People leapt to their feet. The applause was thunderous and frenzied. There was laughter. There were tears. But above it all was the joy--Ole! Ole! Ole!