Venezuela’s Gustavo Dudamel to lead youth concerts in Chile

Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel is known for his work encouraging low-income youth to learn music and perform in concerts

Santiago (AFP) – Venezuela’s Gustavo Dudamel will lead concerts Thursday and Friday in Santiago with youth from Latin America and Europe to honor his late mentor Jose Antonio Abreu, who created a celebrated public music education program for young people.

“This is the start of something that will last throughout one’s life,” said 37-year-old Dudamel, currently the music and artistic director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.

Abreu, also a Venezuelan, died in Caracas on March 24 at the age of 78.

The music program he pioneered, the National System of Youth Orchestras of Venezuela, or “El Sistema,” has been replicated in more than 40 countries. 

It seeks to provide low-income children music education to build confidence and rise out of poverty.

Dudamel told reporters that the Santiago concerts will bring together members of Chilean youth orchestras with musicians from ensembles based in Vienna, Berlin, Los Angeles and Gothenburg, as well as two Venezuelan orchestras, Nacional de Venezuela and Simon Bolivar.

For the performances, the conductor said he chose some of Abreu’s favorite pieces, including Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony and Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony.

Some 500 children from across Chile are also set to travel to Santiago to attend the second performance.