Report: Venezuela shuts down a Sistema orchestra

Report: Venezuela shuts down a Sistema orchestra


norman lebrecht

January 18, 2018

The conductor Jonathan Govias has been informed that the Teresa Carreño Youth Orchestra is about to be disbanded. The TCYO is the second flagship orchestra of El Sistema, after the Simon Bolivar.

Some of its players will be merged into the Caracas youth orchestra.

It appears to be another sign that Sistema has fallen into disfavour with the Marxist regime. The Bolivar orchestra has been withdrawn from its summer tour of Europe. The conductor Gustavo Dudamel is now persona non grata.

Read on here.



  • Joshua says:

    Good. Enough of this Sistema farce while the country is being teared to shreds by Maduro and his thugs. They kill and torture protesters. They starve their citizens. They have destroyed the health system and all public services. Venezuelans have a lot of work to do, saving their country, before they can focus on making music.

    • Anon says:

      Sistema farce? El Sistema was a way to evade the farce that country was and is. It gave thousands of young people a purpose and perspective. A farce?

      • Rgiarola says:

        What purpose Anon? To be working for a merchandising institution of a dictator that caused all issues around? Indeed, they need to feed their puppets very well, reardless the rest of the whole Venezuela population.

        Very interesting purpose.

        • Sue says:

          I well remember a Deputy Principal of mine when I was teaching waxing lyrical about Chavez and what a great man he was. He’d tell me all about how Chavez hated George Bush (now that was a scoop!) and seemed to think this was a prerequisite for leadership. Fortunately he was teaching mathematics and not history. When I told a colleague about this he replied in relation to the Deputy, “how old is he again; 12?”.

    • Patrick says:

      How is El sistema a farce? Why should the young people be victims of your judgment? Maduro is bad. Yes, I know. You should focus on him, not the young musicians.

  • Rgiarola says:

    There is no need for an orchestra in a country starving your own people. El sistema was just a political cover to a dictator. Why people fail to understand it on 2018? It did very few for Venezuela.

    Dudamel a persona non grata? Is it true?. He used to be only a Conductor non grata. There is a vacancy for cover boy that Slliped disc is missing to announce

    • Patrick says:

      “There is no need for an orchestra in a country starving your own people”.

      What a seriously stupid thing to say.

  • william osborne says:

    The Venezuelan government spends on average about 35% of the country’s GDP. That is about 15% less than most Continental European governments. And about 5% less than the UK government. It’s almost exactly the same percent spent by the US government which is 36%. The Venezuelan stats are here:

  • Geoff Baker says:

    It’s hard to tell whether Dudamel is really persona non grata after serving for so many years as a loyal servant of Chávez and then Maduro. Six months after his tiff with the president, he’s had tours cancelled but he’s still officially the musical director of the Simón Bolívar orchestra, and he still has a high billing on the website of the state foundation behind it ( In many ways, the government’s response has been pretty muted.

    Next month’s celebrations for El Sistema’s anniversary should give a clearer sign. Dudamel has stated his intention to attend.

  • Geoff Baker says:

    Also, it’s not at all clear that El Sistema has fallen into disfavour with the government. As Govias suggests, the decline of this orchestra has more to do with its failure to make significant inroads internationally and to keep hold of its musicians at home. Govias’s account points the finger more at El Sistema itself than at the government.

    El Sistema is still a flagship government project and it’s only a matter of time before the official announcement that it has “reached” its goal of one million students. (This despite the fact that every report I hear from Venezuela suggests the program is actually shrinking.)

  • Jim Porter, Sr says:

    How can an orchestra that has produced many world class musicians, a world class, beloved conductor, and been an encouragement to the youths and citizens of Venezuela be a farce? Simply because people choose to politicize their views of music does not in any way make El Sistema anything but an unqualified success. The children and young people who have chosen to make their lives in music and not in the street or in drugs demonstrates clearly how successful and beloved this music program and Maestro Dudamel have become.