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Caracas: Day 9

Mahler 8 with 1,400 musicians, check.  Live theatercast to the U.S. Canada and Argentina, check.  An extraordinary musical event that brings 10 symphonies, 2 orchestras and 1 conductor together, check.  What an unbelievable experience!


The day started out with a full-dress run-through of “The Big Tamale,” the eighth symphony of Gustav Mahler.  Simply wrangling the choirs was a grand task with greater than 1200 singers traveling, parking, lining up and going on and off stage.  At this point, the process is almost complete:

The choir is almost ready!



There was an incredible amount of buzz in the hall; the upper level was packed with different El Sistema Nucleos there to observe the dress rehearsal for this epic piece.  After we had played through the first part, we took a break and had time to soak it all in.  L.A. Times music critic Mark Swed took the chance to gather images for his article:

L.A. Times music critic Mark Swed

After the dress rehearsal, we went home for the afternoon.  Some people packed their bags in preparation for tomorrow, some people napped, some people learned dance moves from the DJ spinning Latin beats poolside at the hotel.  Carnival started already and people were ready to party.  After the pause between services, we were ready to do it all over again, this time for real; no more rehearsing!  We got on our buses for the last time with the destination of the Teatro Teresa Carreño.

Here’s a video taken by yours truly showing the orchestra piling into the hall before the start of the performance:



Ultimately, the concert was a huge success.  The audience and chorus remained clapping for more than 4 minutes after the orchestra got off stage, a great honor.  Everybody involved performed with aplomb.  The orchestra re-boarded the buses and trundled back to the hotel where there was a fabulous fiesta waiting for us.

The post-concert reception was filled with both our orchestra and the Orquestra de Simon Bolivar along with donors, board members of the Philharmonic and many people’s family.  The reception was a wonderful time to meet and thank these important people of the board of directors.  Our entertainment was several groups of El Sistema products in genres of music other than orchestral; there was a wonderful jazz band, a super rock group, a hip-hop orchestra with strings.  So much wonderful music and activity for these young people to be a part of.


Deborah Borda was called onto stage and presented with El Sistema’s highest honor. What an experience!


Dr. Abreu bestowing El Sistema's highest honor to Deborah Borda

After all was said and done, we were all glad that we had the chance to work together:

Group Hug


Posted on: 1 Comment
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One Response

  1. Paul says:

    Ricky, I can’t imagine a more concise, compelling and artistic musical experience than what you have given the readers of your website. Just like the three groups of people involved in music – composers, performers and audience, you have crafted your offering within the dimension of the present technologic wonder – photography (through the internet), as well as having the traditional subjects and audience. The text you’ve provided is personal, positive and informative.

    Welcome home, and thank you for all the superb music, art work and “hands across the seas” from you and all the members of the many symphonies, choirs, and directors who are so giving of the joy of making music together.

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