On 24 July, at a press conference held in Salzburg on the occasion of El Sistema residency at the Salzburg Festival, maestro José Antonio Abreu said that appearing at this major music event represents a significant achievement that will give his orchestras the opportunity to show their work. The founder of the National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras and Choirs of Venezuela announced that in five or six years Venezuela will host the Salzburg Festival, and stated that, in the medium term, El Sistema will have presence in every country of the world.
Later that day, at the Grosses Festspielhaus, El Sistema began its residency with a concert led by Gustavo Dudamel that received a 10-minute ovation from an audience of 2,179. The concert featured two El Sistema ensembles —the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, in its third appearance at the festival, and the Simón Bolívar National Youth Choir of Venezuela in its debut performance in Salzburg—, as well as the Wiener Singverein, the Salzburger Festspiele und Theater Kinderchor, and Choristers of superar.
The programme, which consisted of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 in E flat Major, proved the force of El Sistema. The energy of the strings, the strength of the woodwinds and the accuracy of the brasses accompanied the voices of eight soloists: Emily Magee, Petra Maria Schnitzer and Anna Prohaska (sopranos); Yvonne Naef and Birgit Remmert (contraltos); Klaus Florian Vogt , tenor; Detlef Roth, baritone; and Robert Holl, bass.
This combination of talents gripped the audience for over an hour and a half. A band playing among the audience and a soloist singing from one of the balconies caused surprise.
After the ovation, Venezuelan and Austrian musicians embraced, congratulating each other for having met the expectations of an audience that demanded passion and professionalism.
That same day, as part of the Salzburg Festival programme, Leica Camera presented the photographic exhibition “The Venezuelan wonder – El Sistema and the power of music” at the Grosses Festspielhaus Foyer. The exhibition will remain open to visitors until September 1, 2013.