Gustavo Dudamel: A statement on Venezuela violence

Gustavo Dudamel: A statement on Venezuela violence


norman lebrecht

February 19, 2014

The conductor issued the following statement to his orchestra on arriving in Los Angeles from Caracas. He has also denied to the LA Times reports that the country’s beleaguered president attended his concerts





I abhor and renounce all violence.  I love my country and its people, and what is happening pains me beyond words. The values and music making of El Sistema represent the very best of Venezuela .  For almost forty years, the importance of El Sistema to millions of people both in and outside of Venezuela is impossible to measure.  I cannot allow El Sistema to become a casualty of politics.  Regardless of political or public pressure, I will continue this work in Venezuela and throughout the world.

Much has been written about what I should or should not have done, as the streets outside our Caracas concert hall erupted in violence.  Should the concert have been cancelled, thereby sending hundreds of young people who had already arrived at the hall back into those same streets?  My answer was and remains NO to violence and YES to El Sistema’s core values of peace, love and unity.


  • Cecilia Rodas Zúniga says:

    ADELANTE Gustavo!!! la música está por encima de las ideologías, de las extremas, de la crueldad. La música ha transformado la vida de muchos chicos y chicas en Venezuela, y tu prodigiosa dirección transforma diariamente la vida de todos los que amamos tu arte.

    La música es lo que va a transformar el odio y la ignorancia de este mundo, y tu tienes una enorme compromiso en esa tarea. Tu vida tiene un propósito, y eso lo veremos muy pronto.


  • Matthew McFarlane says:

    This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.

    Leonard Bernstein

  • Javier Arreaza says:

    Dear Gustavo, I have an idea for you. Would you consider not conducting anymore at Venezuelan government events? As you know, the conflict in our homeland pitches one large sector of the population against a government that they consider violates people’s rights and that they fear is becoming more and more dictatorial. No one should want to force you to take a stand against that government if you do not want to. But are you really obliged to conduct for them every time they ask you to? And how can people not get annoyed with you when they see you smiling alongside Nicolás Maduro in pictures and so on? You yourself may be a peaceful and peace loving person, but you know you are lending your stature as an artist and a public figure to a government they don’t perceive as peace loving nor open to change. You cannot pretend not to know this. Do yourself a favor: just say ‘no’ and stop publishing statements to try to excuse the inexcusable. God bless you. I also hold you as a victim in all this madness.