From British daily The Guardian:
Chávez pours millions more into pioneering music scheme
Rory Carroll in Caracas
Tuesday September 4, 2007
President Hugo Chávez has thrown his weight behind a scheme which brings classical music into Venezuela‘s slums, following international acclaim for the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra. The Venezuelan leader announced the creation of “Misión Música”, a government-funded effort to give tuition and instruments to 1 million impoverished children.
He made the announcement on his Sunday television show, Aló Presidente, after reading out rapturous British reviews of the youth orchestra’s performances last month at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
Mr Chávez said thousands of newly formed communal councils, an engine of his socialist revolution, would each set up a music centre “to create the best system in the world”.
The announcement will tighten links between Mr Chávez’s oil-funded radical agenda and the pioneering music scheme behind the youth orchestra’s success.
The system, as it is known, is the brainchild of José Antonio Abreu, a 68-year-old musician and economist. Independently of government and official support, he started giving music lessons to a handful of poor children 32 years ago. The initiative rippled across the barrios of the capital, Caracas, and other cities, enlisting thousands of children with the support of parents who saw it as a potential way out of poverty and crime.
Mr Abreu described the programme’s social mission as helping “the fight of a poor and abandoned child against everything that opposes his full realisation as a human being”.
Graduates such as Gustavo Dudamel, who was named conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and electrifying performances from the system’s flagship ensemble, the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, attracted widespread acclaim and official support. With £15m annual government funding. the system now reaches 285,000 children and is being copied around the world.
Mr Chávez has spoken glowingly about the orchestra before, but Sunday’s announcement could make it the cultural heart of his revolution.
See also here.
The British music world received a shot in the arm last week. The residency of the Simón Bolívar National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela was a call to arms to British musicians and educators. It opened up fierce and impassioned debate; it was a moment when the British music world asked questions, often deeply uncomfortable ones, of itself: here.
Canary Islands: deportation of Venezuelan musicians: here.