Thursday February 22, 2018 10:31 am

FanFaire celebrates GUSTAVO DUDAMEL


The Flagship of Venezuela’s El Sistema

PRODIGY – a child or young person exhibiting extraordinary talent or ability.

SIMON BOLIVAR* YOUTH ORCHESTRA of VENEZUELA (SBYOV)- an orchestra of more than 150 musicians comprised of young people age 12 to 25 who, possessing extraordinary musical talent fortuitously** discovered or developed at a very young age, can play to world-class standards the most formidable pieces in the symphonic repertoire of Western music. [Note added: Soooo GOOD that in 2010 the orchestra was renamed SIMON BOLIVAR SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA.]

The SIMON BOLIVAR SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA… an orchestra of unlikely ex-child prodigies? Indeed, until the SIMON BOLIVAR YOUTH ORCHESTRA flashed onto the radar screen of classical music, one did not think of youth orchestras in elevated terms because one did not give truly serious thought to youth orchestras, period. But prodigies or not, the happy fact suddenly resounding in our ears today is that, contrary to the dire predictions of past years, classical music faces a bright future, and its brightest, most jubilant expression is the SIMON BOLIVAR SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA.

The video clip above gives one a bird’s eye-view of how this orchestra is very much an organism – “We are one body,” – as its charismatic young Director GUSTAVO DUDAMEL puts it. As Sir SIMON RATTLE observed when he came to Venezuela to participate in the unfolding of the future of music, it is an orchestra in which the members are “all phrasing in the same way, able to communicate backwards and forwards.” What the listener hears on CD is a choreography of powerful, graceful sounds that resonate with the hopeful energy of youth; and what the audience in a concert hall sees as well is an unusual natural choreography of bodily movement – a performance that is both an aural and visual feast for the human spirit, and most of all a feat, not necessarily of perfection, but of an almost unimaginable achievement of a goal that is bigger than themselves.

DUDAMEL speaks verily from the heart when he proclaims “The SIMON BOLIVAR ORCHESTRA” is my family.

FAMILY – one definition states: those persons considered as descendants of a common progenitor.

In this case, the descendants share a prolific progenitor born of the uncommon vision of ONE MAN, and it is called EL SISTEMA. -GJBCajipe /© FanFaire
*The orchestra is named after the Venezuelan general who is known as the “George Washington of South America” for his leading role in the liberation of South America from Spanish rule.

**Fortuitously, because discovering and developing musical talent has been secondary only, if not incidental, to the goal of saving the children from a life of poverty.
The CD “Mahler: Symphony No. 5″ with Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela was a FanFaire-DGG GIVEAWAY


The award-winning film by Alberto Alvero, Tocar y Luchar (To Play and To Fight), available on DVD, tells the phenomenal story of EL SISTEMA.

Credit: Images and video clip courtesy of and with permission of Deutsche Grammophon.

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