Under the baton of maestro Gustavo Dudamel, the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela made its last appearance at the 2013 Salzburg Festival on August 3.
With an energetic rendition of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 7 —in which the strings and brasses moved the audience between darkness and light, just as reflected in the composition premiered in Prague in 1908— the Venezuelan musicians moved to tears the spectators at the Grosses Festspielhaus and won them an eight-minute ovation.
But even longer than that ovation, was that received by maestro José Antonio Abreu from the members of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra on the previous day, during the rehearsals for the concert. The Bolívars stamped, cheered and applauded for over 10 minutes when the Minister of People’s Power for Tourism, Andrés Izarra, read a congratulatory missive from the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro.
“I warmly congratulate you and the entire National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras and Choirs on the success achieved in Salzburg. Once again you made your country proud. (…) We have received many good news on the resounding display of talents by our orchestras and choirs (…) We can affirm that you are leading an admirable campaign in Salzburg to make our country great, ” wrote the President.
For his part, Abreu expressed his gratitude to the orchestra: “The El Sistema residency in Salzburg has made history. I thank you for what you have done. We have been invited back to the Salzburg Festival! We brought Venezuela’s soul to the city of Mozart. We proved that we are worthy of the support we have been given. We dedicate this triumph to Venezuela, to our parents and children.”
The El Sistema residency in Salzburg continues with concerts by the White Hand Choir and the National Children’s Orchestra of Venezuela.