The Israel Sinfonietta climaxed its 2009- 2010 season this week with a performance of Beethoven’s Chorale Symphony. There was a time, not so long ago, when a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth was an event that could be staged only by the most prominent orchestras and prestigious choruses in major urban centers. Music director Doron Solomon’s impressive presentation of this icon of Western culture in Beersheba with the combined forces of the Sinfonietta, Ashdod Orchestra, Naama Women’s Choir, and Megido Choir reveals how far we have come organizationally, technically and artistically.The symphony got off to a slow start but gradually built up steam. It began with rhythmic exactitude and technical correctness, but by the second movement scherzo a notable change of atmosphere and involvement swept musicians and audience along.Rapture increased in the songful adagio variations, especially from the combined Beersheba-Ashdod violin section. By the chorale “Ode to Joy” finale, a paean to the brotherhood of mankind – with the addition of soloists soprano Sharon Rostof Zamir, also Bavat Marom, tenor Garbiel Sade and baritone Yair Polishook – the massed ensemble of over 100 on stage convincingly projected Beethoven’s 200-yearold message of hope to a troubled world, “Are you aware of your Creator, world? Seek Him above the starry firmament! For above the stars He must dwell” (Friedrich Schiller).The evening opened with Rachmaninoff's Six Choruses, op. 15 (1896) for female choir and piano by the Naama Women’s Choir under founder/director Penina Inber. She also led the Megido Choir in Brahms’s Gypsy Songs (Zigeunerlieder, 1887), originally for vocal quartet (SATB) and piano. Their studious performances of these sophisticated works evidenced devoted preparation, as they struggled to sing both in their original languages, Russian and German, respectively.