¡Hola, YOLA!

January 6, 2012

Since we have long celebrated Venezuela’s phenomenal El Sistema on this site, it is a joy to see Time magazine jumping aboard. Even better news is their reason for doing so: the burgeoning derivative of El Sistema that is doing its work in Los Angeles. That program, called YOLA (Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles), is tackling some of the worst urban situations in the United States, so it could be a light to the whole nation if those with the power in such matters will pay attention.

Mucho más allá

March 9, 2010

It’s not just El Sistema in Venezuela and Dudamel in Los Angeles — huge as those phenomena are. Latin America’s influence on international classical music seems to be a bigger story every day. Here are two videos about some of Miguel del Aguila’s fascinating chamber music. The first is a one-minute clip:

And the second goes a little deeper:

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El Anti-Sistema

November 2, 2009

violin Look on with wonder as an American public school system that has 28,000 students in grades 4 to 6 participating in instrumental ensembles (with 116 teachers teaching them) sees the program as a fit candidate for the chopping-block. This in a county of comparative affluence, largely populated by employees of the Federal government. Do we need a better illustration of how pitched the battle for enlightened education must remain if we are even to approach the magnificent musical values and experiences with which the poor of Venezuela are endowed?

Whether a petition signed by people across the country will have any effect on such attitudes may be questionable, but the first link above provides an opportunity to test that.

It’s rewarding to see glamorous prizes go to deserving objects:


“Material poverty shall be conquered by musical richness. Social justice and cultural justice are aspects of a single dimension,” said José Antonio Abreu.

Abreu dedicated the award, which he received from Sweden’s King Carl Gustav XVI, to the educators who have worked with him in the Sistema Nacional de Orquestas Juveniles e Infantiles de Venezuela.

Peter Gabriel received his award a few minutes after Abreu’s, also in the amount of a million Swedish crowns ($129,000) along with a commemorative painting and bouquet. Gabriel was honored because of his “visionary, extroverted work that seeks to break down barriers.”

Gabriel and Abreu exchanged mutual praise in a press conference where they showed interest in working together and in which the conductor invited the British musician to come to Venezuela.

The Polar Prize was created in 1989 by Stig Andersson, publisher, composer, and manager of the Abba ensemble. Since 1992, the Prize has honored such performers as B.B. King, György Ligeti, Keith Jarrett, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Pierre Boulez, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, and Gilberto Gil.
Translation from today’s news article in El Nacional

This site has previously referred to El Sistema here and here.

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