The Age of Enlightenment: Venezuela's Thrilling Youth Ensemble Proves to Be Far More Than a Novelty Act

By Jones, Rick | New Statesman (1996), April 27, 2009 | Go to article overview

The Age of Enlightenment: Venezuela's Thrilling Youth Ensemble Proves to Be Far More Than a Novelty Act


Jones, Rick, New Statesman (1996)


Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela

Royal Festival Hall, London SE1

Rather improbably, the Venezuelan youth orchestra named after an Enlightenment freedom fighter has stunned the music world with its success. The system, El Sistema, which produced it and 150 others in Venezuela, has not only got kids playing musical instruments, it has also recruited some of them from the slums. Some of the players are former gangsters, apparently. In London this past week, they made the front page of the Times in their red-yellow-and-blue blousons as they twice sold out the Royal Festival Hall.

This is no small chamber orchestra. The players almost overflowed the stage, with violinists nine-deep. How they managed to dance during the encores without knocking the music stands flying is a mystery. That's when they don those jackets, only to throw them off again and into the crowd like triumphant footballers, usually after their calling-card encore, Bernstein's brassy, thrilling Mambo.

Some people think that's all they play. But they brought Bartok, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky and three South American composers: Revueltas, Estevez and Castellanos. The ambassadors, all under 21, sense the most complicated rhythms as easily as Latin dances under their charismatic conductor, Gustavo Dudamel, himself an El Sistema product. They lean forward into the beat, which pulses visibly through the ranks.

Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra suits them with its darting Hungarian pulse, long folk melodies and roles for numerous wind soloists. There was not a single unsynchronised entry. In the magical second movement, "Games of the Couples", the duets snaked their bubbling phrases with parallel, sinewy contortions. In the delicate, quick movement of Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony, Dudamel stopped conducting with his arms, stood still and nodded in the entries, demonstrating at once both matchless control and how intense an undemonstrative beat can be. Each pizzicato pinged as one, though 90 musicians played it.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The orchestra's tone colour is vibrant, variegated and exciting, though it just lacks that deep patina which comes from years of playing. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Age of Enlightenment: Venezuela's Thrilling Youth Ensemble Proves to Be Far More Than a Novelty Act
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.