Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Venezuelan music beyond the youth orchestras
Music from Venezuela is big news this week as the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venzuela hits the BBC Proms as part of their eight concert European tour. And later Gustavo Dudamel takes them on an autumn US tour, and then prepares to become music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Great news for classical music. But in the published programmes of the US and European tour by Dudamel and his Venezuelan youngsters there is not one work by Venezuelan composers, nor is there any music by living or female composers of any nationality, although their box office friendly BBC Prom does include music by the 20th century composers Silvestre Revueltas (1894-1940) from Mexico, Alberto Ginastera from Argentina (1916-1983), Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) and Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975).
Elsewhere on their European tour, and on their first two Deutsche Grammophon releases, Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra move even further back in history, with music from colonial Europe by Beethoven and Mahler. (Did I hear 'dead Europeans'?)
Here, for readers to extend and amend, are some suggestions for contemporary Venezuelan composers that Gustavo Dudamel might include in future tour programmes with his Venezuelan orchestra and Los Angeles orchestras. Although I have a feeling that Askonas Holt and Universal Music's Deutsche Grammophon may not be that keen.
Josefina Benedetti (b. 1953) - American born (New Haven, Conn.) Venezuelan composer, who studied piano both in Caracas and London. Extensive range of compositions including electronica, her compositions are frequently programmed in Venzuela and elsewhere. Founded her own record label Música y Tiempo.
Alvaro Cordero (b. 1954) - born in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. Has worked extensively in the US, and represented Venezuela at the International Rostrum Of Composers in Paris. His music has been performed by the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra. MP3 downloads available from website.
Alfonso Tenreiro (b. 1965) - born in Caracas. Studied in Venezuela and at Indiana University, Bloomington. Widely programmed in Venzuela and US, compositions include a symphony and guitar concerto. Numerous audio samples on composer's website.
Ricardo Lorenz Abreu (b. 1961) - composer and conductor now living in Chicago. His orchestral compositions have gained some acceptance in the US and elsewhere.
Sef Albertz (b. 1971) - best known for solo guitar music, including his suite Homenaje a Joan Miró. Also composes for orchestra, including a guitar concerto.
Federico Ruiz (b. 1948) - composes in genres including electronics. Has written successful opera Los Martirios de Colón (1981).
Beatriz Bilbao (b. 1951) - works with electronic mand acoustic forces. She has represented Venzuela at contemporary music conferences.
Follow this path for a directory of Venzuelan composers, and this one for listings of recordings. And this one for more on both Venezuela and 20th century Latin American composers.
Image (c) On An Overgrown Path. Venezuelan composers in my montage around Gustavo Dudamel are, from top left clockwise, Alfonso Tenreiro, Federico Ruiz, Alfonso Tenreiro, Frederico Ruiz and Josefina Benedetti. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and other errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk