Venezuela’s Youth Symphony Orchestra, part of the broader National System of Orchestras of Venezuela, received a rare 10-minute standing ovation from a usually-reserved Swiss audience, after a rousing performance at Zurich’s Tonhalle Theater.
“These musicians touched the hearts of the audience. The connection between Dietrich Paredes and his orchestra is fantastic ... They played their hearts out with superb technique and an astounding level of professionalism,” said theatre director, and former president of Germany’s Beethoven Festival, Ilona Schmiel.
The prize-wining Venezuelan orchestra, made up of 200 musicians between 14 and 30 years old, and directed by Dietrich Paredes, performed Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony “Leningrad”; a piece by the Venezuelan composer Evencio Castellanos entitled “Santa Cruz de Pacairigua”; and “Sensemaya,” by Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas at the Zurich theater.
Schmiel described the interpretation of the Shostakovich Seventh as "marvelous" and commented on the heavy applause by the audience in the first part of the concert when the Latin American works were played. “This is not common in Switzerland,” she said, “where audiences tend to be enthusiastic, yet reserved.”
Zurich was the first stop on the fifth European tour undertaken by the young people’s orchestra. It will be followed with concerts in Hamburg, Paris, Zagreb, Budapest, Vienna, and Gothenburg.
Venezuela’s National System of Orchestras is a social project created by the Prince of Asturias Arts award winner, Jose Antonio Abreu, 40 years ago, to make it possible for low-income children and youth to play in orchestras.
El Sistema now has more than 500,000 members in Venezuela, and has been copied in many other countries.