Monday, November 12, 2007

Just Venezuelan youths waving national flags


Patrick J. Smith writes - 'Pliable's On An Overgrown Path deserves the attention of almost any serious reader and lover of music, and it deserves whatever accolades can be given for his coverage of Hugo Chavez' "Bolivarian Revolution," especially as the musical world swoons over Gustavo Dudamel.

Perhaps my love of Wilhelm Furtwängler should be tempered for this reason, and - as I have said here - some recordings, like that 1943 Bayreuth Meistersinger, are problematic for me - maybe that's right; however, I cannot help but think that Dudamel is a servant of a state verging ever nearer to totalitarianism and repression. Supporting Dudamel, his youth orchestra, and other Venezuelan cultural products is akin to saying that we love the produce of a nascent dictatorship, even if we don't so much care for the dictator.


While Mr. Dudamel should not be made to suffer for being the product and superstar of the music-education program of Venezuela, we should not get in the business of supporting Chavez or the end-results of his projects until it becomes clear the Chavez is committed to democracy and human rights.'



Thank you Patrick for those wise words. The two photos show Venezuelan riot police facing university students during protests against Chavez’s decision to shut down opposition-aligned television station RCTV in May 2007. (Image credits FullosseousFlap). Perhaps DG will use them on the next Dudamel CD sleeve? Meanwhile, many readers have contacted me from Venezuela echoeing Patrick's words. For obvious reasons it is best if I don't give their names. This is typical of the messages though - 'Music will prevail... Chávez will eventually cease ... I hope sooner... We are working to see how...'

Good to see that the music is prevailing, and my article on Venezuelan music beyond the youth orchestras has attracted a lot of attention. One reader from Venezuela writes to point out my omission of Aldemaro Romero, and say 'all the rest have to learn from him'. Romero died on September 15 2007. As well as working in the classical field and founding the the Caracas Philarmonic Orchestra he was the creator of a new form of popular Venezuelan music, known as "New Wave" (Onda Nueva), derived from the joropo and influenced by Brazilian Bossa Nova. You can sample Romero's music on YouTube. The photo below shows happier Venzuelan music making, Aldemaro Romero with guitarist Saul Vera.


Strange how having an opinion is so unfashionable in some parts these days. It didn't use to be that way.
Aldemaro Romero image from Wikipedia.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 errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

3 comments:

Pliable said...

King Juan Carlos of Spain isn't a fan either - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7089131.stm

"El Animal" said...

Chavez has nothing to do with the success of Gustavo and the Venezuelan Youth Orchestra. The system has over 30 years of history in Venezuela, Dudamel is not a product of the current government. Of course Chavez will try to use their sucess as propaganda, but nobody should blame Dudamel for that.

Pliable said...

El Animal, see this post about a conductor who was rather more courageous in his attitude towards an oppressive political regime -
http://theovergrownpath.blogspot.com/2007/11/conductor-who-hated-compromise.html