By Jacob Stockinger
One of the most interesting stories I heard about classical music in 2012 points yet again to a curious paradox.
Even while many First World audiences, as well as school programs, in Western Europe and North America seem to be turning their backs on classical music, that same classical music is thriving and blossoming in South America and Asia, and even in Africa (below is a double bass player in the Kinshasa Symphony).
Curiously, the greatest success often seems to come from the most unlikely source: The poor and undereducated young people and students, plus their families and friends, for whom the music takes on even more personal and cultural or social meaning.
One example is Gustavo Dudamel (below), the fiery and charismatic superstar conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Gustavo Dudamel and “el sistema” in Venezuela, which trained him and gets countless young people into making classical music.
You may remember that on Christmas Day I touched on this same theme with a very moving video of poor young in Paraguay who are featured in the upcoming documentary “Landfill Harmonic” about poor students who recycle trash into instruments of musical beauty.
Here is a link to that posting:
And here is a link to the story, which aired on NPR in which Leonard Bernstein protégée and conductor Marin Alsop, who leads both the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Sao Paulo Orchestra in Brazil, discusses her exhilarating experience south of the border.
Those experiences include an outdoors concert for 20,000 (below) and taking the first South American orchestra ever invited to the famed British Proms concerts, where the crowds went wild. (At bottom is a YouTube video of Alsop and the Sao Paulo Orchestra playing encores at the 2012 Proms in Britain.)
Such beauty, meaning and enthusiasm are indeed contagious. Let us hope 2013 brings more of that same energy and devotion to beautiful music and a lifelong appreciation of it right here!
I found the story hopeful and inspiring, and I hope you do too: