Musical youth

Posted by Ian

Last night, BBC4 broadcast a performance from last summer’s Proms season at the Albert Hall in London. It featured the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra from Venezuela, and was one of the most astonishing concerts I’ve ever seen.

Thanks to a combination of nervous excitement and sheer exhilaration, by the time proceedings came to a close the entire orchestra was on their feet, swaying and swinging in time to the music they were performing. Instruments were tossed into the air and whirled around heads. The players, in a wonderfully choreographed move, swapped their black jackets for tracksuit tops bearing the national colours of Venezuela. Then, at the end of a shatteringly emotional encore, they actually left the stage and moved among the audience, still playing, before flinging their tops into the – by now – ecstatic crowd.

Why can’t classical music always be informed and infused with this kind of passion? Why should it always be offered up, and received, in an air of earnest gloom? It was telling that it was a youth orchestra that had the nerve, and the desire, to behave in such an atypical way. And, of course, that it was not an orchestra from this country, or even this continent. Another international relations coup for Hugo Chavez!

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