The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is trying to put a record in the Guinness Book. Saturday, November 13, 12,000 young people and as many musical instruments were gathered in the courtyard of the Military Academy, in Caracas, for “The biggest concert in the world”. The previous record was held by Russia which, in 2019, had gathered 8,097 musicians.
“Nothing is impossible for Venezuelan youth”, launches Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, who gives a short speech just before the mega-concert. President Nicolas Maduro is not here. Mme Rodriguez evokes the memory of Libertador Simon Bolivar, hero of Latin American independence exactly two hundred years ago, and that of «Teacher José Abreu», the founder of the System, who died in 2018. In Venezuela, the System with a capital s is the National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras (National System of Child and Youth Orchestras and Choirs), a program created in 1975 to make music education accessible to all children, including the poorest.
“Gift to humanity”
Cameras and drones film the tight rows of musicians in white shirts. The grandiose images are displayed on the dozen giant screens that line the walls of the military establishment and on all the country’s televisions. The Vice-President continues: “All Venezuelans, including our migrant brothers, are proud of their nation today. “ Fleeing the crisis that has devastated their country since 2015, some six million Venezuelans have taken the path of exile.
Sunday is the time for national emotion. “Music and peace are Venezuela’s gift to humanity”, enthuses the presenter of the Telesur television channel. And remember that Mr. Abreu’s System has been replicated in seventy countries around the world. Behind their mask, the musicians have a smile. The youngest are just 8 years old.
When the first notes of the Marche slave of Tchaikovsky, many Venezuelans wipe away a tear and tell it on Twitter. Others denounce the political recovery of the spectacle by power and refuse to give in to the emotion “So as not to play Maduro’s dictatorship’s game”. “The System is 46 years old, it owes nothing to Chavez”, recalls a surfer. The leader of the Bolivarian revolution, Hugo Chavez, ruled the country from 1999 to 2013.
Prevent from “going badly”
“Abreu founded the system, but it was Chavez who made it massive”, retorts a young music teacher in front of Telesur’s cameras. The conductors, men or women, who follow one another on the podium look like kids. The national anthem resonates in the dark.
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In Caracas, “the biggest concert in the world” brings together 12,000 musicians