Sounds Venezuela, Southbank Centre, London

5.00

 

Classical music has never enjoyed a more successful a marketing campaign than that promoting Gustavo Dudamel, the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, and the proliferation of Jose Antonio Abreu’s visionary Sistema.

From its origins 37 years ago in a Caracas garage it has indeed been a remarkable story, with two million young people having passed through the programme in Venezuela, and thousands more passing through similar schemes elsewhere - most notably on a housing estate in Stirling, where last week 8000 people braved pouring rain to cheer their children on under Dudamel’s baton.

In London, Dudamel and co transformed the Southbank Centre into a ‘nucleo’, with the benign gospel – every child can make music, and making music communally means training in ‘the experience of agreement’ – being promulgated in Lambeth. First we were invited to watch a hundred primary-school children make their first instrumental foray. Then came an open rehearsal for the big band, in which Dudamel was as economical with his advice as he was with his gestures, but from the players’ response you could sense their symbiosis of intention. And if the concert itself made a fine showcase, that was less due to the Beethoven works in the programme – ‘Egmont’ and the ‘Eroica’, both of which had verve but rather crudely-calibrated dynamics – than to their sparkling performance of Britten’s ‘The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra’. These lovely variations on a theme by Purcell are designed to introduce all the instruments by family, from the top down – piccolo, flute, clarinet, bassoon etc. Here we could savour not only solo virtuosity, but also brilliant synergy of dazzling trumpets, warm strings, and percussive rattle-and-snap. In technical terms this performance was on a par with that of any great orchestra you care to name, but what made it unique was the youthful ardour of their sound. Yet many of these players are now seasoned professionals in their thirties, as we saw when the Simon Bolivar String Quartet gave an inspirational recital of Schubert and Ginastera. 

Listening to the Southbank’s all-age Giant Orchestra blast their way through Holst’s ‘Mars’, one could see what fertile soil Abreu’s ideas have found in London. But for them to reach full fruition would require very different educational spending priorities from the ones being pursued by the present government.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Thomas carried Lady Edith over the flames in her bedroom in Downton Abbey series five

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, seated next to a picture of his missing wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene

Friends 20th anniversary
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham

books
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey

There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits