200 Young Musicians from Caracas to the Bergen International Festival

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May 08, 2011

Caracas Youth Symphony Orchestra is internationally acclaimed thanks to El Sistema, the Venezuelan state music education system, which provides free tuition to over 400 000 young people, many of them from deprived areas. In Norway the orchestra will perform alongside an equal number of youngsters from Norway’s Arts schools nationwide.

After three weeks of intensive effort the Bergen International Festival has succeeded in raising enough money to cover travel and accommodation for 220 persons, thanks to the generosity of the City of Bergen, a number of private persons and El Sistema itself. When transporting such a large orchestra the instruments alone take up almost 100 cubic metres – about 3 500 cubic feet. The man behind El Sistema, Maestro José Antonio Abreu, will also be in Bergen for the final weekend of the 2011 festival.

‘This is a unique event! For a long time we have wanted to enter into a long-term collaboration with El Sistema, both because of the artistic quality of the orchestras, but first and foremost because it is an absolutely fantastic social project that demonstrates the capacity of music to influence people’s situation in life,’ says festival director Per Boye Hansen, who visited Caracas and the head of El Sistema in late March this year.

During his visit his admiration for the project grew even further, and when Caracas Youth Symphony Orchestra had to cancel its planned Asian tour because of the situation in Japan, the Bergen International Festival was offered the option of a visit in the current year.

‘This was a chance I just could not pass by, even though it meant a lot more work all of a sudden. It is fantastic to be able to present such a large orchestra of this calibre! It will also result in positive contact between young Norwegian and Venezuelan musicians and will give festival audiences and others an opportunity to acquaint themselves with this unique music tuition system,’ says Per Boye Hansen.

In addition to performing in the family concert in Grieghallen on Saturday 4 June with 210 Norwegian youngsters, the young musicians will be seen elsewhere in the city during the weekend. Maestro José Abreu will give a lecture on El Sistema on Saturday 4 June.

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