El Sistema has more than one meaning
Yesterday's Independent carried the gushing feature seen above written by Clemency Burton-Hill on location in Caracas with Gustavo Dudamel and laced with generous quotes from the president of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Ms Burton-Hill is better known as a presenter on BBC Radio 3 and the Proms, and also of the current BBC Four Young Musician 2012 programmes. What the feature byline does not explain is that one of her other roles is writing promotional material for artist agent Askonas Holt. And it also does not tell readers of Askonas Holt's role in Gustavo Dudamel's forthcoming UK tour with the the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela and in his past Los Angeles Philharmonic tours, all of which feature prominently in the Independent article.
A search reveals no less than twenty-five contributions by Clemency Burton-Hill to the Askonas Holt website, while on the Dudamel/LA Phil tour page there is a glowing write-up by.... Clemency Burton-Hill. As the paper is called the Independent is it unreasonable to ask why the recent blog post headlined 'Dudamel is not the savior of classical music' by Alex Ross, a commentator of infinitely greater authority than Ms Burton-Hill, was not discussed in the editorial feature?
The sad thing is that Gustavo Dudamel does not need this shameless media manipulation, because, as Alex Ross quite rightly points out, he is "a greatly gifted musician, with room to grow". All Clemency Burton-Hall's hagiography does is remind us that El Sistema has more than one meaning.
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