Conductor with Down Syndrome challenges for world attention

Conductor with Down Syndrome challenges for world attention


norman lebrecht

June 13, 2011

José Omar Davila is an orchestra conductor.

He differs from the rest of his profession by the nature of his disability.

José Omar, 26, was born with Down Syndrome. He conducts the Children’s Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela and, in his own country, may well be the best-known maestro after Gustavo Dudamel, such has been the wave of publicity that is presently following his career. Like Dudamel, he has risen through the Simon Bolivar Music Foundation, established by José Antonio Abreu.

Judging by reports, his repertoire consists mostly of showstoppers – Hallelujah chorus, Ode to Joy and suchlike. But his ability is being taken seriously and responsibly by the media.

I find it nothing short of magnificent that a national foundation charged with developing musical potential among deprived kids can also take into account the musical aspirations of a young man with Down’s. Abreu is an even bigger man than we thought.

Here’s the first of five Spanish-language youtube TV segments on José Omar’s story. Prepare to be challenged, uplifted and moved.