Friday, 20 July 2012
The phenomena that is El Sistema, the Venezuelan 'system' that introduces young kids to playing musical instruments in an orchestral, classical music community which lands up changing their and their families lives has been well documented. Now a good few years since its inception by Maestro José Antonio Abreu, the orchestra has removed the word Youth from it's name and has become the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela (SBSOV). Along with the world renown and highly respected conductor, Gustavo Dudamel, the combination is a powerful force that bucks the traditional enclave within the classical music world.
Even if you have the T-Shirt, watched the videos, seen the Prom broadcasts, nothing can prepare you for the experience of seeing them in action live, it is totally overwhelming, the impact it had on me is still fresh and imprinted in my consciousness. There is so much more to say and I will endeavour to explain more in due course, but the overall impact is one of an intense spiritual and worshipful moment that captivates everyone in the room. Performers, conductor and audience find themselves caught up in unison, a rare and numinously transformative place.
Whilst the orchestra's appearance in 2007 won hearts with robust performances of Bernstein and Latin composers, this recent concert in June 2012 depicted above demonstrated their ability to perform principally European works with astonishing sublimity.
However, for me the moment occurs right at the end...
Move the time bar to 1hr46mins45s, the start point for the encore, humbly introduced by Gustavo, Sir Edward Elgar's Nimrod. Then enjoy the performance, again, totally sublime, and wait to see what happens right at the end of the piece. There is a full 28 seconds of silence, a pin drop pause, a selah, before any applause starts.
Everyone is caught up in the extraordinary moment and it is so clear to see the effect it has had on orchestra and conductor. What is notable that neither Elgar's nod to his buddy Jaegar nor the subsequent notion of the piece being so linked to Churchill's funeral were anywhere in the ether, this is a new and transcendent interpretation that only comes with fresh ears and eyes...
...we have so much to learn!