The clarinettist Robert Larm has posted the following situation report on Venezuela, received from a source who needs to remain anonymous. We can vouch independently for the accuracy of the first two points. The third cannot be confirmed.
MUSICAL ARMAGEDDON IN VENEZUELA
1. El Sistema will be continued. In what shape it will be down the road is anyone’s guess. Its founder, Jose Antonio Abreu, was able to skillfully navigate the political mine field for many years. But now that he has passed away one person familiar with the situation told me “…nothing can happen like before.”
2. The SIMÓN BOLÍVAR ORCHESTRA has been disbanded. This is the musical ensemble that catapulted El Sistema, Gustavo Dudamel, Abreu and Venezuela to the forefront of the classical music world. It was a revolutionary concept that has had similar systems sprout up all over the world. This is the orchestra that was seen in the top concert halls around the world and recorded multiple cds and videos. What started off as a youth group became a full fledged professional orchestra as the players aged out. Many of its core members had played together for nearly twenty years. Now it is all gone under the mandate of the government led by President Nicolas Maduro. The group that recently performed in Vienna was an excellent group of entirely new and younger players. The government wanted to “show off” El Sistema.
3. GUSTAVO DUDAMEL is now considered persona non grata by the Venezuelan government. If he attempts to enter the country he will be detained at the airport or forced to board a plane and immediately leave the country. He is not even being allowed to assist at his mentor’s funeral, Maestro Abreu.
Why am I sharing this? A friend from Facebook reached out to me and asked to set things straight as to what exactly is going on in their home country. Is this person reliable? Yes, I would vouch for this individual. I cannot share any details about this person because it could endanger the individual and the individual’s family. More details and names were given which I cannot share. This is very serious – people can just disappear if word gets out to those in power.
May we all hope that my friend has over exaggerated the musical situation in Venezuela. However, this person has shown me things that validate the claims that are being made.