“The head of Venezuela’s famed youth orchestra network says he will strive to uphold the program’s legacy of musical excellence and social service as it faces one of the toughest periods in its history following the death of its charismatic founder,” writes Fabiola Sanchez in Thursday’s (3/29) Associated Press. “Executive director Eduardo Mendez said the program must overcome a crippling economic crisis that has forced hundreds of musicians to leave the country and move on from the loss of José Antonio Abreu, who created the orchestra network known as El Sistema.… Abreu, who died Saturday at age 78, was a consummate musician and astute politician who secured government funding for El Sistema and turned it into one of Venezuela’s showpiece government-run programs. It now has around 300 music schools that connect children, many of modest means, with classical music. It has also produced a crop of world-renowned musicians, including Los Angeles Philharmonic music director Gustavo Dudamel. Mendez acknowledged that steering the orchestra network through Venezuela’s social and economic crisis will not be easy.… Mendez, who worked alongside Abreu for 15 years, said his priority will be to strengthen musical initiation programs and explore new genres in the network’s academies.”

Posted March 29, 2018