Monday, August 17, 2009

Guest Blogger - Allison Schwartz

This is the next post in The Contrapuntal Blog Guest Blogger Series. The purpose is to showcase some of the worlds most passionate and creative Gould fans' creations through photo, video and writing.

Allison Schwartz is an architect.

Gustavo Dudamel plays in LA VEGA

Edit (Aug. 28, 2009): Three amazing videos of the event

On Sunday August 2nd, I visited the barrio La Vega to see a free musical performance of Caracas´s Sistema Nacional de las Orquestas Juveniles e Infantiles de Venezuela or El Sistma led by the superstar Venezuelan conductor, Gustavo Dudamel.

Dudamel comes out of the El Sistema program here in Caracas, but he has now reached international attention due to his talent and energetic style. Ordinarily obtaining Dudamel tickets requires arriving at the theater at 5 AM and waiting in line all day, but for this performance, the concert was on the streets- free for anyone who showed up, without seat assignments, and without any semblance of exclusivity.

La Vega is an enormous barrio (slum) in Caracas and is known to be very dangerous- one of the many neighborhoods that gives Caracas its bad reputation. While I have seen many from the outside, it was also my first time inside a barrio, creating a heightened awareness throughout the visit that I was slightly in danger just by being within La Vega.

It was impossible to know what to expect from the performance because an orchestra playing in the middle of a slum is as rare as it sounds.
The concert was in a small piazza almost entirely filled with the stand for the musicians. Several hundred people were watching the concert from the joining street and crammed into overlooking houses. Surrounding the stage from 360 degrees, people of all ages were watching the performance from every balcony, staircase, and ledge. This type of outdoor concert would have been impressive anywhere, but the unlikely setting in the center of a barrio made it magical.

There was energy in the air from the start of the performance. The audience chanted “Gustavo” in anticipation of the conductor’s entrance, and this excitement transformed into dancing, singing, and cheering that was present throughout the entire event. Following the lead of Dudamel’s enthusiastic attitude, the musicians were also in high spirits- even occasionally standing up and dancing with their instruments. The Orquestas Juveniles e Infantile played a mixture of classical music, the Mambo, the Himno Nacional and other Venezuelan classics, that maintained an engaging and high-energy performance.

For the afternoon, everyone was there to enjoy the music and the unique experience- the music reached beyond social classes, engaging the audience and demonstrating the power of music to bring people together. It was difficult to imagine that this street corner could have been ever been used for any other purpose than a venue for El Sistema.

No comments:

Post a Comment