Danny Glover: Music establishes a strong connection between us
On January 29, at the Spectrum Theatre in Virginia, Venezuela’s “Simón Bolívar Big Band Jazz” orchestra received a long and enthusiastic ovation from the public after playing a variety of pieces, ranging from Duke Ellington and Miles Davis to a fusion of Venezuelan drums with jazz.
The concert was one of the stops on their US tour in celebration of the 40th anniversary of El Sistema, a social and cultural project that has provided music education and social inclusion to over a million children over the past years, many of whom come from low-income homes. Its teaching model has been replicated in over 50 countries, including the US, where youth orchestras and choirs based on El Sistema have been started in New York, Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Detroit and Los Angeles, among other cities.
Present at the event were Maxmilien Sánchez Arvelaiz, Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and notable figures such as renowned intellectual James Early, who is the Director of Cultural Studies and Communication at the Center for Folklife Programs and Cultural Studies at the Smithsonian Institution, and beloved actor and director Danny Glover, who characterized the concert as “absolutely wonderful.”
Glover added that he would love to see the band play in Harlem, among other places. On being asked about the similarities between Venezuelan and American musicians, he said “we have a strong connection through music, we have the same roots and that bring us much closer together.” Glover was moved by the fact that young Venezuelans were playing classic works of U.S. music. He noted how happy he was that a musical genre that was born through popular culture and with a strong tradition of social justice is now being used to unite peoples of different nations. “That is love!” Glover exclaimed, before committing to strengthen ties between the Venezuelan band and U.S. musicians in order to deepen relations between the two countries.
During the concert, band director Andres Briceño thanked the Embassy and Citgo for their support during the tour, which began in Miami and will close in New York City.
The evening was a huge success, as other members of the audience made clear. English Professor Paris Von Lockette lauded the musicians for their “instrumental technique, energy and expression in playing a classic jazz repertoire as well as contemporary pieces incorporating afro-latin themes.”
Simón Bolívar Big Band Jazz was founded in 2007 with the goal of developing, nurturing and spreading jazz in Venezuela. It is made up of 35 young students from the Simón Bolívar Music Conservatory, an institution charged with the academic and professional training of the members of the National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras and Choirs of Venezuela (known more widely as El Sistema). The Simón Bolívar Music Foundation, which manages El Sistema, is overseen by the Office of the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
Press – Venezuelan Embassy in the US / January 30, 2015