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Sistema horn player is forced to flee Venezuela

June 19, 2017 by norman lebrecht

11 comments.


Frederick Pinto is 21. He has been playing in El Sistema for ten years and is a member of its national orchestra.

On April 4, while walking to rehearsal, he was seized by police in Caracas, beaten and brutalised. ‘I’m a musician,’ he shouted, to no avail.

His mother, when she was summoned to pick him up, was threatened with violence to herself and the rest of the family. The threats were followed by phone calls.

The family left Venezuela and is now in Spain.

Frederick is appealing for funds to enable him to continue his musical studies.

He was not allowed to take his French horn out of Venezuela.

Watch, and weep.

Help here if you can. The appeal was launched this morning.


Comments (11)

  1. Ungeheuer says:

    Well, for starters, I suggest that Gustavo Dudamel donate a good percentage of his surely overblown salary and conducting fees.

      1. John Borstlap says:

        Why asking why? D is supposed to be the Systema Saint.

  2. enemigopublico says:

    Pinto is 21. He was not a member of one of the top national orchestras, but of the orchestra of the Caracas neighbourhood of Chacao. So he was not at the top level of El Sistema, and despite spending 10 years in the program, he has no instrument and no qualifications. And he’s starting from scratch abroad. If he’s lucky, he’ll begin conservatoire at an age when other horn players will be auditioning for professional orchestras, degree in hand.

    I wish him the best of luck, but it will be little short of a miracle if he makes it as a horn player.

    Despite rolling in money for decades, El Sistema has cut him adrift with a head full of dreams and virtually no way of realising them. Read that and weep.

    1. Ruben Greenberg says:

      Dear friend Enemigo (a contradiction in terms!). What you said is eminently sensible and I can only go along with it. Nevertheless, if I may be allowed to qualify your statement…You can “make it” in music without being principal horn with the London Symphony or the New York Philharmonic. I’ve known a number of people that play in local community orchestras, teach, play wedding gigs and a bit of jazz and are very happy and make a positive contribution to the world of music. This might be within this young man’s reach. I haven’t heard him play, but he definitely needs encouragement and to be given a chance.

    2. FEDERICKPINTO says:

      NUNCA HABLE MAL DEL SISTEMA ENEMIGOPUBLICO y es muy bfácil decir ciertas cosas cuando nunca se han pasado por ellas con mucho respeto te digo ni tu ni nadie puede ponerme limitaciones uno de los mejores trompistas del mundo comenzo a tocar el instrumento a los 21 años y si quizas no soy “profesional” en titulo pero tengo mas experiencia tocando en orquesta que muchos graduados de conservatorios superiores y aqui pienso retomar mis estudios saludos. translate

      1. Ruben Greenberg says:

        Federick, Tienes razon! Hay que sobre todo seguir su corazon y tener confianza. Con el trabajo y la passion, se puede todo.

      2. enemigopublico says:

        Frederick, no te estoy poniendo limitaciones y como dije, te deseo suerte. Espero que triunfes. El problema no eres tú – es el sueño, que está roto, y El Sistema, que no ha hecho nada para enfrentar esta nueva realidad y preparar a sus músicos para ella.

        https://www.phantombrass.com/single-post/2017/06/16/The-Orchestral-Dream-Is-Dead

  3. José Bergher says:

    Somebody did a translation of Frederick’s statement.- /Hi everyone first of all thank you for taking your time and reading this. The 04/04/17 I was a victim of abuse by the police authorities of my country Venezuela, thanks to the diffusion of the videos where my innocence is demonstrated I could leave after being all day being beaten, abused and humiliated, but Not everything ended there …. When my mother went to look at me where they were held, they took photos of us and threatened us with not giving any kind of statement since they would not be responsible for what could happen to us. My mother received calls of all kinds with threats telling her that they knew where we lived and that we were very careful what we were going to say, I was a full month without leaving home and without giving any kind of statements. The day that I was able to leave my house went straight to the airport and we left with only two suitcases leaving everything, my friendships, studies, my instrument, basically all that with so much effort we constructed but we just could not live with that fear of which we They did harm. At the moment we are in Spain and I am here asking for help to be able to continue with my musical studies and if I can continue with them in a university would be great but for this I need an own instrument which is very expensive and we simply can not afford it … I asked for it Help my old orchestra to lend me the horn (horn, French Horn) that was assigned there until I got one of them but my application was denied. I just want to continue doing what I’m so passionate about and what I’ve dedicated more than 10 Years of my life. Here I am to say that I thank you very much for all the support received by my case God bless.

  4. Sue says:

    Dreadful story, but we do not really know any of the details. When you look at a 180 degree picture from the perspective of about only 10 degrees it’s impossible to learn everything you might need to know and understand. There is bound to be more to this story, is what I’m saying. Go easy on The Dude; he’s allowed to be successful and make lots of money. To my knowledge this is still legal, even in a place like Venezuela.

    1. enemigopublico says:

      The thing is, ‘The Dude’ has been successful in large part because of El Sistema, and goes on about how El Sistema is like his family etc. So it’s kind of relevant that he never said a word about Pinto’s arrest or what has happened since, and that El Sistema refused even to lend Pinto an instrument. It makes ‘The Dude’ look like a bit of a hypocrite, which is why a lot of people in Venezuela are giving him a hard time.


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