Sunday, July 20, 2008
Venezuela's National Youth Orchestra and music programs featured on CBS "60 Minutes"
Tonight, Bob Simon of CBS "60 Minutes" did a report on Venezuela’s music education program. The segment was called (“The System”) “El Sistema: Changing Lives Through Music”, link here. The original broadcast had occurred in April 2008 and was updated in July.
The Venezuelan government has reportedly educated 800,000 youth in music over thirty years. Lessons start as early as age 2, and by age 4 many children can play an instrument. The broadcast showed segments of performances from the Simon Bolivar National Youth Orchestra, picked from young musicians around the country, performing the climactic passage from the finale of Bela Bartok’s "Concerto for Orchestra", a passage from a Berlioz overture, a passage from Richard Strauss’s tone poem "Don Juan", and the opening passages of Beethoven’s Ninth. The broadcast went into the barrios built in ravines outside the Caracas city center, and showed one girl playing Bach on a violin as she walked down a capillary alley. The experience shows that music education provides vulnerable children with something constructive to anchor their lives to.
Young maestro Gustavo Dudamel often conducts the national orchestra. He was reported on Feb 17 on “60 Minutes”, and discussed in a report on this blog dated Jan. 13, 2008 (toward the end of the posting).
Venezuela has become controversial because of the socialist government of Hugo Chavez, and the dispute over nationalization of oil resources.