Musical Change

Jan 23, 2012

This segment begins with a recording of a 26-year-old Gustavo Dudamel conductor of the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar in Leonard Bernstein’s Arrangement of Mambo. Dudamel is the most energetic young thing on the podium. Before being named music director of Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and principal conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony in Sweden, he was a violinist in the Bolivar Youth Orchestra in Caracas, Venezuela. Dudamel has several hundreds of thousands of children – almost all from poor neighborhoods -- whose lives have been transformed by a program of music education and social change known as el Sistema. El sistema founder Jose Antonio Abreu proposed that a child who picks up an instrument will not pick up a gun. Since 1975, kids with few prospects were given ownership of an instrument, and brought into a community that could change their lives. Changing Lives is the title of a new book by writer and music educator Tricia Turnstall. She spent several years following el Sistema in Venezuela and in the US where the program is active in several cities.