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The Arts Intel Report

A Cultural Compass
For the World Traveler
A Cultural Compass
For the World Traveler

Gustavo Dudamel + National Children's Symphony of Venezuela

August 6, 2024
418 Sheridan Rd, Highland Park, IL 60035

Gustavo Dudamel, incontrovertibly the most celebrated product of Venezuela’s music-education program El Sistema, gives back, leading the National Children’s Symphony of Venezuela, the cream of the nation’s aspiring musicians (for the record, the “children” range in age from 10 to 17). The first half of the program opens with the John Adams crowd-pleaser Short Ride In a Fast Machine, followed by two selections by Latin American voices. Then, the pièce de résistance: Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5, in which the brutally censured composer used a musical quote from Mahler as well as “eye music” (notes which create pictures on the page, insinuating messages imperceptible to the ear) to thumb his nose at his Soviet critics. Luckily for him, Comrade Dmitri’s game went unnoticed by the authorities, and the premiere earned him an ovation that lasted more than half an hour. Might Dudamel have a subversive message on the power of music up his sleeve? And are the kids in the know? —Matthew Gurewitsch

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