Even before I placed the picture of Gustavo Dudamel with the
Pope, I have been thinking about writing a post about Venezuelan Classical
music, not so much because of the recent success of people like Dudamel, but
more because that area has a level of institutionality that surpasses end even
survives above the current Government, which led me to conclude that in the
area of music, Venezuela is like a developed country. And I say this for a
number of reasons, no only because of the success of the Venezuelan musicians
and the structure of music in Venezuela, but also because unlike other
institutions, like the Modern Art Museum, Venezuelan Science and Conare, the
reforestation institute that seems to have disappeared under Hugo Chavez.
Gustavo Coronel wrote
about this recently but more about the individuals than the size of the
project, but I wanted to give some numbers so that people can get an
idea of the size and extent of the musical system in Venezuela.
The origin of it all, after a tradition of composers and
guitarists, economist Jose Antonio Abreu started what would become the National
System for Youth Orchestras. Abreu founded in 1975 the Simon Bolivar Symphony
Orchestra and the next year he founded the system. Beginning with funding from
the first Government of Carlos Andres Perez, funding that has never stopped on
the part of any Government, adding to it both international and private
funding, Abreu has built a remarkable system of orchestras. Today, Caracas alone has five
symphony orchestras, there are 300 orchestras associated to the system created
by Abteu, 143 teaching centers and a total of 673 groups that play under the
system. There are a total of 293,000 musicians who are pat of the system in all
states of the nation and 60% come from the lower social strata of the
population, demonstrating the penetration of Abreu’s work.
Everyone calls it the system, even if it has a more complex
name Foundation del Estado para el Sistema Nacional de Orquestas Juveniles e
Infantiles de Venezuela (FESNOJIV). This “system” encompasses four levels, the
infantile, pre-youth, youth and professional systems and even has its won
educational institution the Instituto Universatrio de Estudios Musicales.
While Dudamel is one clear example of the success of the
“system”, it may be that his precociousness is part of it; it always surprises
people how young he is and the level of international success he ahs achieved.
But there are others like Aquiles Machado, an opera tenor who has sung in the
Metropolitan Opera in New York and in Milan’s La Scala, Edicso Ruiz, who played bass for the
Berlin Philharmonic before he was 18, or Francisco Colmenares. a trumpet
player who won the Maurice Andre trumpet contest in Paris.
Thus, thanks to Jose Antonio Abreu, his vision and hard
counts today wth the infrastructure in music that it should be able to have in
every area of human endeavor given the resources it has enjoyed n the last few
decades, as well as the local talent available. Unfortunately, politics has
always interfered and is interfering today with all institutions, driving
people away from the country and from working for the Government.
Unfortunately, very few of those left have been left standing with any
integrity by the fake revolution.