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Sim?n Bol?var Youth Orchestra, London 18/4/09

Rite of Spring

I bought tickets for this a year ago and wasn’t once tempted to sell them on ebay where they changed hands for £hundreds. They played South American pieces in the first half, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring in the second, then four encores. At the end of the third encore the lights went down, and the orchestra put on caps and jackets in the Venezuelan colours, which they threw into the crowd at the end.

The orchestra was vast – 44 violins, a mass of percussionists (one of whom looked like one of those fridge-freezer bodyguards who accompany drug barons to conferences with their competitors) twelve double basses, and both violas and cellos placed on the right so a wall of bass hit you from that half of the stage, balancing the massive violin sound on the other.

Hatred of Young People

The hall was packed, with a higher proportion of younger people than usual. Some of these may have been from the British National Youth Orchestra who play on the South bank today (19/4/09). There’ll be trouble over this – the dames in tiaras and the young fogies won’t like sharing their snooty club with unwashed youth. I think we’re starting to see a fight-back against Dudamel, the El Sistema project, and the popularisation of classical music generally.

José Antonio Abreu, the founder of El Sistema, was in the audience. He got a standing ovation. A Venezuelan family in front of us stood on their seats and yelled.

Spring offensive

I don’t know the

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