Gustavo Dudamel’s camp (Barquisimeto, Venezuela, 40 years old) arrives in Europe for the first time. The new musical director of the Paris Opera brings together 59 young people in Madrid, most of them Latin Americans, who will coexist for a week and celebrate classical music with a dozen consecrated instrumentalists. “Let’s do one thing to make this sound good. Think that you are invited to a party, you say you will not attend, but a melody begins to seduce your ear “, the teacher suggests to his students during Tuesday’s rehearsal at the headquarters of the Orchestra and Choir Foundation (Orcam), where jokes predominated. The meeting, in which Dudamel has left his mark as a visionary with aesthetics indie, It will culminate with three concerts. The first will take place at the Príncipe Felipe de Oviedo Auditorium, while the second and third will take young people to Tenerife and Gran Canaria.
The project is based on the pretensions of his mentor José Antonio Abreu, who died in 2018. It was he who discovered it, trained him as a director and, when the time came, appointed him the successor of a pedagogical architecture that had saved hundreds of thousands of students since 1975. children thanks to music. “I am one of them. I grew up in a project that gave me the opportunity to dream and now it is essential to be able to share it with others, using the necessary resources. It is beautiful to see all these students, who came from a dozen different countries, doing what they love the most ”, he says at the end of the essay. His career knows no creative ups and downs, from Caracas to Vienna. In Madrid he is accompanied by the actress María Valverde – “indispensable in this initiative”, he assures him -, whom he married four years ago.
They met for the first time during the filming of Liberator (Arvelo, 2013). Since then, the musician has left behind a decade that gave him contracts as head conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and high-profile conflicts with Maduro, the president of his country, whose repression he has denounced on several occasions. The pandemic truncated his tours, also the camp, originally scheduled for January of this year. “It is a privilege to have all these interpreters with us, they are our driving force. We talk about the concept of beauty as an abstract matter, but real beauty emanates from connection with others, ”he points out. She shows a “rootedness to simplicity”, a drive for solidarity. “We are the first to get rich from this project, so it is a form of exchange. The stories of these children cannot leave you cold ”, Valverde emphasizes.
Canadian architect Frank Gehry, one of the project’s sponsors, will also wander around the Orquesta y Coro Foundation these days. “The opportunities that Gustavo and María offer young musicians through their foundation are extraordinary. It is an honor to be part of these meetings and share this experience with them ”, the renowned creator of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao or the Louis Vuitton headquarters in Paris declares to EL PAÍS. Dudamel underlines: “We admire him a lot, he shares our social vocation. He knows that art can be used to change things. Because in the end, this whole thing is about this. ” At 92 years old, Gehry sneaks into classes or shares a coffee with the students. Venezuelan Silvia Reiners, a 21-year-old cellist, says that thanks to him she has understood the symbiosis between music and construction. “Everything is emotion,” he says.
The young people of the program see in Dudamel a kind of messiah who “has opened paths,” as Anais Burgos, a 24-year-old violinist from Chile, who was trained at the Pontifical University, tells. “He has gone where you never thought you could go. I find it inspiring, his story encourages us all ”, he says. Students mill around in a hallway after rehearsal, short distances due to daily COVID-19 testing. “We function as a bubble group. For most of us, this is the first time we have played with others since the beginning of the pandemic, imagine the illusion, ”says the young woman. Burgos borrowed his first four strings thanks to a municipal program. Now he dreams of reaching the top of the international orchestras. “Musicians need to travel,” he warns.
Professors such as Rainer Honeck, concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, have also made a pilgrimage to Madrid. He is seen feeling a Tchaikovsky score with the kids: “He is an internationally known author, but this may be the first time that some students have faced interpreting it. I think that is the purest form of our profession, to be a witness of such a magical moment ”. That is why he understands that the new sanitary impositions do not detract from the emotion of live music, “although they complicate everything to limits never imagined”. The 22-year-old Nicaraguan William Avilés agrees, referring to a sum of passions: “Being all together, mine is added to those of the rest.”
The meeting includes morning exercises and stretching workshops, devised by Valverde with the aim of improving posture with the instrument during rehearsals. “As an artist, in my field I have suffered from physical stress. In the moments of greatest concentration, the body suffers a lot ”, says the actress. Dudamel adds that this is a way to heal the nerves and reduce stress. And it is that self-demand can increase exponentially in events of this kind, although Nuria Ramírez, 18, describes a collaborative environment between learners. “We want to help each other, not compete, as I have seen in some formations that I have gone through,” he says. Musical maturity doesn’t have to mean selfishness.