13 Oct 2010

The Teresa Carreño Youth Orchestra: Beethoven to Bakhtin!

the Teresa Carreño Youth Orchestra are in London at the end of a European tour, performing Beethoven and Prokofiev’s fifth symphonies in two concerts. The first thing to strike you is the immense volume: though crammed into every corner of the stage, these players still have room to take a swing at the music. The second is the precision. Beethoven intended fairly lean orchestras to play all but the last of his symphonies; and in the fifth the key is in the consistency of the attack and momentum.

The Teresa Carreño Youth Orchestra are currently performing at the Royal Festival Hall.

They are a product of 'El Sistema' a thirty year programme of training kids from the grassroots in Venezuela to be talented musicians.

My partner Sarah and I were lucky enough to have invites to listen to them performer yesterday and we were amazed, a wonderful experience. I am not really a classic music fan but even I know that performances are generally met with polite applause not ten minute standing ovations and wild scence of crowd ecstacy.

Our interest stems from our love for Venezuela. Now Venezuela is not perfect, sometimes it can be a very frustrating and slightly chaotic place but thinking outside the box seems to be a very Venezualan trait. You might think the idea of taking children from the poorest barrios and turning them into some of the worlds best musicians is pure Chavismo. Indeed the orchestra fits in with the best of a Chavez approach but remember it predates Chavez's government by two decades.

The better know Simon Bolivar Orchestra and a huge range of musical projects are funded, nurtured and supported by the government but the roots of this experiment are deeper still.

People in Venezuela are very proud of the musical tradition being invented.

The Orchestra were amazing and the very best was the encore which was played with great energy.

I wont spoil it by telling all but if you can catch the performance in London on thursday or meet the Orchestra when they play elsewhere in Europe you will be amazed.

A real vision of how culture can be transformed by people at the grassroots, inspiring in so many ways.

They started with Beethoven but by the end all the music was written by Bahktin.

I am guessing classic music was rock and roll once, it is again but this is not for kings, emperors and elites, its socialism in action.

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