|El Sistema and Mr. Chávez: When Music Meets Politics|
|News - Politics & Arts|
|Wednesday, 28 March 2012 02:16|
The successfully music education program for disadvantaged youths has intersect with the Venezuelan governmental agenda; and the old controversy begins: Should music and politics remain separate?
After more than 30 years since José Antonio Abreu (a musician, economist, and former cabinet minister) initiated a music education program intended for the disadvantaged children across Venezuela, El Sistema has now grown up and become the talk of the town among the classical music enthusiasts.
Through its (classical) training system for young musicians, El Sistema has effectively brought hundreds of thousands of children off the street, gather them into musical ensembles, and earn their self-respect within the society. It also gave Gustavo Dudamel, the 31 years old conductor who derived also from the program, to the world of classical music, as he is now hold a position of music director for the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
The people of Venezuela embraces the contribution of El sistema as one successfully music program towards poverty and violence among the youths, as they were all given their level of support in a positive direction. But not until one man decided to go along with the program: Its very own President, Mr. Hugo Chávez. As reported by Daniel J. Makin for The New York Times, “The way Mr. Chávez has embraced El Sistema has angered some of its supporters and has been seized on by Chávez opponents, provoking rare criticism of two of Venezuela’s most celebrated and popular figures: the movement’s revered founder, José Antonio Abreu, and its most famous product, the conductor Gustavo Dudamel.” [Please read the original article]
Situations like this may not only occur in Venezuela alone. And certainly not just happen in recent times. The long debate of how the works of German composer Richard Wagner might have influenced Nazi thinking is just one of the cases when music intersects with politics. And to quote from what is written by Daniel J. Makin in the same article as those above, “Should artists denounce politics they don’t agree with? And At what cost should culture be kept alive?”
Source: The New York Times