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Caracas: Day 7

Today we saw a true spectacle.  Four orchestras and two choirs, numbering 1300 musicians in total, put on a show for the LA Philharmonic, the media, and our MC for this Saturday’s live broadcast of Mahler’s 8th symphony John Lithgow.  This was a logistical mountain realized in perfect detail without a single hitch.  Completely amazing!

Gustavo Dudamel and John Lithgow prepare to be wowed by six different ensembles

The showcase started with a brass band conducted at the entrance to the theater’s indoor/outdoor “lobby:”

A rousing band of music-makers

Following the band’s conclusion, Maestro Dudamel, Dr. Abreu, President Borda and Mr. Lithgow moved from the entrance to the first stop in this El Sistema exhibit.



This was an orchestra conducted by the fabulous Jesus Parra.  It was an energy-packed performance which left many speechless.  The musicians were as intent as the audience:


All eyes are up, watching the conductor


"I conduct, but I am a violist." -Jesus Parra

Maestro Parra's performing ensemble

As you can expect, there was a huge amount of media coverage at this large-scale event:

A cameraman focuses on Dr. Abreu, President Borda, Maestro Dudamel and Mr. Lithgow

After this performance, the mob moved to a second orchestra to listen to more music:

This stretched out orchestra plays beautifully in any circumstance

Next up, the crowd moved to a third space set up for orchestral musicians.  These well-trained musicians performed a selection of Handel’s Water Music.  The distance covered by the orchestra was large but the ensemble played very well together and was quite full of impact:



Amazing!  Did you notice anything missing in all these orchestras?  That’s right, stands.  The musicians had their music memorized.  Astounding.

At this time I had the chance to get to know the head of media for the hall, Aline Gonzalez Basalo.  She helped me get past security and attain some wonderful vantage points from which to observe and capture these moments.  She recommended that I follow her to the next venue in advance of the crowds so as to set up and be prepared for the next event.  We went into a smaller recital-sized room with a very large orchestra on stage.  At the time we entered the room, there was not a single sound in the hall.  The musicians and conductor were looking straight at the door, waiting for Gustavo to float over the threshold:

Eerily silent in waiting- total and absolute focus before peak performance.

The final orchestra in line performed the last movement of Tchaikovsky's fourth symphony and presented Gustavo with many gifts

With this performance concluded, the mass of visitors moved back outside to a spot containing a second choir and white-gloves ensemble to sing us a few songs.  Having been informed by Gustavo that these were special needs kids who “receive their musical teaching from the bosom of El Sistema,” LA Philharmonic Debra Borda dried a tear in her eye:

El Maestro y La Presidente

The choir sang beautifully and was attractive to all kinds of people who were remaining to see and hear the entirety of what was in store during today’s showcase:

A boy looks on from our perch

The chorus and white-gloved partners performed at a very high level.  Bravo, El Sistema!



At this point, the showcase was over.  Most of the more-than-one-thousand were in the process of packing up but the Phil’s concertmaster, Martin Chalifour, found time to take a few shots:

Concertmaster and his Canon

Following this epic event the Philharmonic had another: one concert playing both Mahler’s 10th and 1st symphonies.  It was wonderful to play those two moving pieces; the audience was large and supportive.  A dream come true!

Tomorrow, the orchestra splits into two groups for excursions then head to the hall for a “surprise.”  Any guesses?  Talk with you then.





Posted on: 2 Comments
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2 Responses

  1. Julia says:

    These pictures and video clips represent your trip beautifully! It’s wonderful to share a small piece of of your heaven.

  2. Joanne says:


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