Music director: I was tortured in Venezuela

Music director: I was tortured in Venezuela


norman lebrecht

January 22, 2015

America’s newest music director, Carlos Izcaray, went public last year on his experiences in his home country, where he maintains that the regime routinely tortures suspected dissidents.He was subjected to gas attacks and electric shocks before being released. He has since become a vociferous opponent in exile of the Chavez and post-Chavez government.

This week, Carlos was named music director of the Alabama Symphony. Read a summary of his torture claims here.


carlos izcaray


  • enemigopublico says:

    Gustavo Dudamel, meanwhile, has been best friends with Venezuela’s last two presidents.

  • Milka says:

    Dudamel is only about Dudamel -and does whatever keeps Dudamel in business.

  • Doug says:

    Hey, we need to give communism another chance. 300 million dead at the hands of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro, Guevara and Chavez is just a statistic.

  • Wilbur says:

    Yes, it is indeed a great disappointment to see Gustavo Dudamel’s attitude to what is transpiring in his very own country. When Chavez died, Dudamel cancelled his L.A. Phil. concerts in order to pay his respects to Comrade Chavez and he immediately flew off to Caracas to attend the funeral. The Americans are quick to condemn Valery Gergiev for his close relations with Putin, but having one of their own music directors, at the L.A. Phil. paying respects to the brutal Chavez and Maduro regimes, is completely ignored by them. The usual typical hypocrisy that one finds over there in spades. Why the silence?

    • M2N2K says:

      None of LA Phil performances was “cancelled”: in order to attend the funeral, GD did miss exactly one concert that he was scheduled to conduct, so it was led by the Associate Conductor instead. And by the way, this was not “completely ignored” at all – there were protests in several American cities where GD performed during the following few months.

      • Edith Portman says:

        Stating that “Dudamel cancelled his L.A. Phil. concert” is absolutely correct, as you yourself write that the Associate Conductor lead that concert in his absence. Wilbur did not say that the L.A. Phil. concerts were cancelled, he said that Dudamel cancelled his concerts, or concert as was the case, so his comment was correct. He said Dudamel cancelled and never indicated that the L.A. Phil. concerts were cancelled, so your “correction” is misplaced. The fact that there were demonstrations elsewhere in the U.S. is irrelevant. Why didn’t the L.A. audience take offence and express their sentiments, then and now? I agree that the hypocrisy over there is often unbearable.

        • M2N2K says:

          The statement was “Dudamel cancelled his L.A. Phil. concerts” and it was incorrect because not a single one of them was cancelled. As all advertisements always warn: “artists are subject to change”. In any case, my previous comment was meant more as a clarification than a correction because wilbur’s comment, when read precisely as it was written, clearly implied that more than one concert did not take place because of GD’s actions, which is not true. Regardless of one’s opinion about the conductor’s decision to miss exactly one concert, the fact is that all of them were performed by LA Phil as scheduled. As for LA audience’s opinions about it, you would have to pose that question to every single listener in order to find out what they think and why. There is no doubt that some of them did express their strong objections to the situation in their personal communication with LA Phil’s administration as well as with the press. As for those who did not, unless you produce evidence that they are the same ones who are now protesting against Valery Gergiev, your accusation of hypocrisy is completely baseless.

    • JJC says:

      You may be assured that his behavior was very carefully noted by many and will not be forgotten.

  • Jan says:

    Yes, about this is Gabriela Montero speaking a long time now, maybe the people should take her serious finally!

  • Gabriela Montero says:

    A brave voice in all the silence..

  • Bill says:

    Wait until he spends one or two years in Alabama! Although a different form of torture, it is still torture nonetheless.

    • Greg Hlatky says:

      Presumably, Alabamians can read. Comments like this are no way to win friends or attract an audience. If meant ironically, rest assured it fell flat.

  • Sam McElroy says:

    Firstly, heartfelt congratulations to Carlos on his appointment. He is a good man on the rise, and he has done it without a state-sponsored leg-up.

    Where are Chavez’s apologists on this blog these days, if not surgically removing their tails from between their legs? They blamed the Americans, the right, the capitalists, and the imperialists for Venezuela’s woes. They accused Gabriela Montero of publicity-seeking, and even of working for the CIA! Today, Nicolas Maduro sings pathetically from the same dogeared, blood-spattered hymn sheet, as he returns to the most murderous capital city in the world from his global begging tour. After spewing his predictable, anti-fascist diatribe, his economic solution to the world’s most elevated rate of inflation is “God will provide!” The irony of nature’s bountiful provision, in the form of the world’s most abundant crude oil reserves, escapes the presidential mind. For, despite that winning lottery ticket of black liquid gold, Venezuela is effectively a failed state.

    Maduro reminds me today of a story our headmaster once told us. It was about a drowning man crying out to god for his help. Along comes a fisherman in a boat. “Get in!”, cries the fisherman. “No!”, protests the drowning man. God is going to save me!

    And Jan and Wilbur, above, are absolutely right. While Gustavo Dudamel, rewarded handsomely for his flag-wearing, global ambassadorship of the criminally corrupt Venezuelan government, has largely escaped censure, Gergiev – and Netrebko – have been closely scrutinized over their allegiances.

    For six years now, Gabriela Montero has relentlessly provided the voice of reason, truth and dignity on Venezuela, and on the morally equivocal relationship between its musical establishment and the Venezuelan government. Almost entirely alone, and against the giddy multitudes hypnotized and dazzled the world over by Brand Venezuela, she has advocated for the people of Venezuela and for the stability of her country from Davos to the BBC, from CNN to PBS. She has argued daily on social media and in every major broadsheet in the western world. She has improvised the story of Venezuela at the piano in every recital, from Vienna to Patagonia. She has composed a major orchestral polemic and played it on three continents. She has refused the Venezuelan state’s financial inducements. She persuaded EMI to recolor its iconic logo from communist red to funereal black, on her album dedicated to Latin American composers.

    She has also faced the abrupt, underhand and censorious canceling of agreed concerts by two of the new generation Venezuelan conductors – yet never breathed a word about her loss. She has exiled her brother and family from their homeland, who – to further appropriate Kipling’s words – now “watch the things they gave their life to, broken, and stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools.”

    Brand Venezuela is dead. Yesterday, Desdado Cabello, the leader of the Assembly and the nation’s second in command, was outed in New York as the Capo of the Venezuelan drug trade. In truth, it was never really alive, but a gaudy trompe l’oeil of bombast and hubris, trumpeting the noble principles of fairness and inclusion, while lavishly lining the pockets of thieves and parasites, bankrupting itself from within like a gormless, malignant tumor. Its epitaph is written in its burgeoning morgues and cemeteries, and in the multi-million dollar offshore accounts of self-styled “Revolutionaries”.

    The truth has been outed.

    • marc b says:

      Talk about bombast – that’s what your post was. Chavez helped the majority poor to free literacy, drs, social services and was elected a few times over in some of the best monitored democratic elections on the planet. You don’t like socialism, boo hoo, you like capitalism that has to feed on undeclared wars/ invasions/ looting every 10 years, nobody cares what you like. Viva the revolution and power to the 99%.