Performing at the BBC Proms 2007 (Thanks to John Hilley for highlighting this)
This is the product of El Sistema, Venezuela’s music education programme pioneered by economist and musician José Antonio Abreu in 1975. According to a UK Telegraph report, the programme offers every interested child, no matter how poor, an instrument and free tuition. Some 250,000 children are participating in the programme. El Sistema general manager Javier Moreno was quoted as saying: “We’re interested in creating citizens with all the values they need to exist in society – responsibility, teamwork, respect, cooperation and work ethic.”
If only we had a Malaysian equivalent – comprising the youths of all ethnic groups and classes (rich and poor) from Perlis to Sabah – playing a fusion of Malaysian music with similar exhuberance. Wouldn’t that be more culturally authentic – and more affordable – than the big-budget Petronas “Malaysian” Philharmonic Orchestra, which comprises highly paid expats performing before mainly well-heeled audiences?
This is how The Telegraph describes the BBC Proms of 2007:
It was a night that anyone who was there will never forget.
The Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra prom
Fiesta time as the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra lets rip
Yes, the Proms are renowned for their party atmosphere, particularly on the Last Night, but that’s from the audience. At the concert by the astonishing Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, it was the performers who let rip in what must have been the most joyful Proms performance ever.
The high jinks started at the end of the scheduled concert when they produced from nowhere jackets in the national colours to replace their immaculate suits. To cheering and stamping from the audience, they performed three increasingly wild encores.
They waved their instruments in unison, they stood up and sat down in time to the music, they performed Mexican waves, they threw their instruments in the air, spun their double basses and danced with each other. It was fiesta time.
Then they invaded the auditorium, and, as the last encore came to a raucous close, you realised the conductor had been replaced by one of the revellers. Finally, when the audience refused to stop clapping, the youngsters threw their multi-hued jackets into the crowd.