Miraculous Music-Making

OK, I guess I blew it. I was in London during the Proms a couple of weeks ago and I missed Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra from Venezuela. There has been such a buzz around this orchestra and “El Sistema”, the miraculous music organization that has literally saved so many poverty-stricken children from a life of drugs and crime by offering them the chance to learn a musical instrument. They then become part of an amazing national network of after-school instruction which is producing thousands of wonderful musicians. Dudamel himself, who at 26 has just been appointed principal conductor of the LA Phil, is a product of El Sistema, and by all accounts an incredibly talented and inspiring musician.

Here’s Dudamel being interviewed by the BBC during the interval of the Prom

And here’s a clip from the performance in question.

Astounding musicianship, relaxed confidence, utter joy and playfulness. How did a performance this miraculous take place? I’m honestly not sure. What fascinated me about the interview is Dudamel’s emphasis on the importance of humility, and also the sense in which he feels himself to be very much part of the orchestra, rather than a ‘maestro’. But there’s so much more going on …

Food for thought as I work with the choir I’ve just taken on.