This is the "The Teresa Carreno Youth Orchestra", the 2nd tier orchestra made up of 12-20 year olds, playing for the recent TED awards.
There is also the 1st tier orchestra called the "Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra", made up of 12-25 year olds, and is touring London now.
Both are a product of a 34-year-old project run by the Venezuelan government called El Sistema, which gives every girl and boy, starting at around 4 years old, however poor, the chance to have free music tuition and an instrument.
There is talk of programs like these starting in Britain and the US.
Remember how we get every once in a while videos, very touching about people who, despite all problems manage to make it, about marvelous messages of hope and whatnot? And everyone is in tears?
I'm actually almost in tears now, because of this video. Not only because of the performance of these amazing boys and girls, not only because of Dudamel (who is quite fabulous and fresh), not only because of the 2nd work by the Mexican guy. But also because of the idea of sistema, which does not exist (yet) in Greece and I have my doubts if we'll ever see such a thing here. we have other things, scholarships, etc, our ancient history, but now... niente.
So I'm so overwhellemed by the combined effort of TED, with sistema (not sure if sistema IS the result of TED actually and the "one wish to come true" of the maestro), that all I can do is keep listening to the same video, again and again. I've stoped working for more than 2 hours, just to keep watching this video.
Please excuse the sentimental character of this post. It rarely happens to me, but I was just reminded what music is all about.
I'm sorry, but if you took all the very best "high-school age" musicians in the U.S. and made two full symphony orchestras out of them, wouldn't you get exactly this calibre of musicanship?
I think it's remarkable that a country known for its poverty has decided to invest in youth and culture in this fashion. It's incredibly brilliant and commendable.
But let's not forget: this isn't "a high school orchestra". This is the cream of the crop out of a million kids.
And it doesn't hurt that the piece they're playing is such a whiz-bang concert showpiece!
Canada has a "national youth orchestra". Britain has one. And I'm sure the U.S. has one as well (yes, after searching under alternate names, I found a few).
Instead of oohing and aahing over what another country has done, and lamenting the paucity of cultural implication in our own homes, we should be PUSHING our own legislators and politicos to DO SOMETHING.
In Canada, Stephen Harper and his Conservatives consider culture to be a luxury we neither need nor can afford. We're working on changing that. Let's elect a government that DOES believe.
And before anyone tells me "well, what have YOU done?", I started a music festival... what have YOU done.
My goodness Michel, meaning no disrespect, your post seems to minimize the accomplishment of these kids, despite telling us all to go out there and "do it". However, I think it's because you miss the point of my post.
OF COURSE this orchestra is comprised of the 'cream-of-the-crop', as are nearly all youth orchestras are, whether they are city, state or national levels.
What makes this one different is the fact that it's made up of kids from their nation from all walks of life. You can take that to mean, poor, rich, middle-class, elites, etc., with funding provided by a major commitment from the nations government that has accomplished exactly what they set out to do.
It's exciting and a definite change from what I've experienced.
Having been involved with youth orchestras up to a state-level in my lifetime, I can tell you from experience that most of those I played with were from the 'affluent' side of life, sometimes spoiled, and definitely pampered, and quite frankly in some cases, not very good. That's where the remarkable difference is.
Since 1994, the Arts have suffered greatly here in the US because of politics. With the more-enlightened political climate that exists now, I'm hoping that we see such a program like this come about here.
meaning no disrespect either, I think you missed the point of my post.
I've read a LOT of posts on this orchestra.
And most of them go on about the kids.
The real people who deserve the credit are the government officials who started the program. The kids did what was offered them. The same thing kids in other countries are offered when they get music lessons.
These aren't street children who "decided to start an orchestra". These aren't poor children who scrounged up every last penny and learned on their own.
These are children from different social backgrounds who were given an opportunity and took it and put it to great use. I see nothing wrong with that. What I hope is that this inspires people in the RIGHT direction.
I see no difference between this youth orchestra and any other. They are all comprised of children from every walk of life.
In my opinion, where the merit goes in this very particular case, is with the political power that was employed to GIVE that chance to youngsters, in a country where great poverty is a serious problem.
In no way does that minimize the accomplishment of these children.
On the other hand, excessive praise of these children DOES minimize the accomplishments of ALL the OTHER children in the world who have been working hard at their musical instruments and didn't get this sort of media coverage.
ALL youth who reach this level of musicianship, whether from poor or rich backgrounds - it is completely irrelevant - merit our admiration. By aiming all of the mediatic attention on the children, and focussing such a spotlight on the fact that many are from poor backgrounds only makes a mockery of the work and talent they put into what they are doing.
If all these children were from a "rich" country, and played just as well, would the attention be the same? I doubt it. And THAT is an affront to the hard work that young musicians put into what they do - young musicians EVERYWHERE.
If you carefully re-read my post, you will see that I in no way diminish their achievement. What I DO say, however, is that there is no reason for us to not point fingers at our own political powers-that-be and push them to follow Venezuela's lead.
On the other hand, you do realize that in your response, you diminish the hard work of young musicians eslewhere by implying that they are "spoiled" and "pampered".
I was one of those young musicians once. And I can assure you that my parents went through terrible financial hardship to put me through the musical education that I got. And I'm pretty sure that both music lessons and musical instruments cost considerably MORE here than they do in Venezuela, even 40 years ago.