July 25, 2021

classical music with a Hispanic accent

The Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel. / Europa Press

Gustavo Dudamel (Barquisimeto, Venezuela, 1981) remembered a first time this week. The Venezuelan conductor explained how, as a child, he participated with 600 other classmates in an anniversary concert of the System of Orchestras of Venezuela. “I was in the fourth row of the second violins, sitting among a sea of ​​children. That first note sounded, which I am sure was not perfect, because nothing that was there was, but the energy of that sound was what moved me, what blessed me to be a musician “, stated Dudamel, in statements collected by the EFE Agency. That was the moment, being part of an orchestra, in which life convinced him to be a musician.

The musical director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, and as of August 1, the Paris Opera, says goodbye to the Archipelago today at the Tenerife Auditorium, where he will conduct, starting at 8:00 p.m. hours, to the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the chamber ensemble founded in 1997 by the unforgettable Italian maestro Claudio Abbado (1933-2014), with a program focused on two masterpieces of symphonism signed by Felix Mendelssohn, the Symphony No. 4, Italian, and Ludwig van Beethoven, the Symphony No. 6, Pastoral.

Dudamel’s participation in the Canary Islands International Music Festival (FIMC) began on June 27 on the same stage in the capital of Tenerife and has consisted of five concerts, two of them with the Encounter Orchestra. This formation has brought together 49 young musicians from Mexico, the United States, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Portugal and Spain. The project Encounters, created in 2018 by the Dudamel Foundation “as a way to explore cultural unity and celebrate harmony, equality, dignity, beauty and respect through music”, has developed its first tour in Spain in June in the European continent, with workshops and rehearsals in Madrid and performances in Oviedo, Tenerife and Gran Canaria.

In addition, on this occasion it has had eight interpreters from the Islands, belonging to the Young Canary Orchestra (Jocan): Pablo Araya from Lanzarote, Izan Falcón, Paula Torres and Rubén Darío from Gran Canaria, and Carla Meléndez, Meriem Abad, from Tenerife, Jairo Rodríguez and David Domínguez.


“I grew up that way, playing, dreaming in youth orchestras,” stressed the Venezuelan musician. And here, no doubt, it is essential to name José Antonio Abreu (1939-2018), the Venezuelan composer, pianist, conductor and educator, among many other tasks, architect of the National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela and the National System of Symphonic Youth, Children’s and Pre-Children’s Orchestras of Venezuela, which, for short, everyone knows as the system.

Gustavo Dudamel is the most recognizable fruit of a priceless project, but fortunately he is not the only one, far from it. Created by Abreu in 1975, the system uses classical music as a tool for social transformation, while promoting the personal development and intellectual training of its beneficiaries. The National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras and Choirs of Venezuela currently brings together more than one million children and adolescents. This same philosophy, to a large extent, is the one followed by the Dudamel Foundation, which is co-chaired by the Venezuelan conductor together with his wife, the Spanish actress María Valverde: “Expand access to music and the arts by offering tools and opportunities to the young people to shape their creative futures ”.


If the connection between Venezuela and the Canary Islands unfolds in multiple aspects, and especially the emotional ones occupy a privileged place, it was practically inevitable that Gustavo Dudamel and his foundation would converge in the Archipelago with the Barrios Orquestados project, directed by the composer and director of Gran Canaria José Brito Orchestra with “the purpose of bringing culture through music to all sectors of society and especially to those most vulnerable.”

The proceeds from the concert offered this Friday by the Venezuelan teacher with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in the Parque Doramas de Las Palmas, in front of the Hotel Santa Catalina, which organized the event in collaboration with the FIMC, was allocated to this musical and social community initiative that It is currently taking place on the islands of Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura.

“This type of project -explain from Barrios Orquestados on their website- aims to integrate all citizens into an equal society in opportunities and possibilities, where they can feel useful and included in it, where the path is the great objective and, not so much, the final result that can be offered in a concert hall ”.

“It is essential to reincorporate artistic teaching into the basic education of boys and girls. Art, culture, are always left a little aside, when beauty is born from them ”, Gustavo Dudamel argued this week, and EFE reported, when asked about the initiative led by José Brito.

The Venezuelan conductor is today the main reference of a generation of conductors, musicians and singers who with their talent continue to demonstrate that classical music is not limited to a map of Central Europe, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, Russia and perhaps USA. Gustavo Dudamel, the Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez or the Mexican Rolando Villazón are examples (along with veterans like the pianists Daniel Barenboim or Martha Argerich) of a more or less visible, but constant, current of artists who speak in Spanish.

As also do in and from the Islands, tenors such as Celso Albelo, Jorge de León or Pancho Corujo, sopranos such as Yolanda Auyanet, Carmen Acosta or the Canarian-Venezuelan Nancy Fabiola Herrera, or the pianist and composer Gustavo Díaz-Jerez. And of course, the relationship is much broader, and when mentioning a few examples, glaring omissions always remain.


Precisely, the Hispanic world will be very present in the project that Dudamel will undertake after today’s concert in Tenerife. In less than two weeks, he will headline the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra’s return to the Hollywood Bowl. There he will develop a summer season that will begin on July 15 with the interpretation of Peter and the Wolfby Prokofiev, narrated by actress Viola Davis. Gustavo Dudamel will direct 14 of the 50 planned performances, including those of the Pan American Music Initiative, which aims to celebrate the creativity of the Americas. The Venezuelan director will direct the world premiere of the Fandango Violin Concerto, by Arturo Márquez, written for Anne Akiko Meyers (August 24), the commemoration of the centenary of the birth of Astor Piazzolla (August 26) and two performances with Carlos Vives (August 27 and 28).