Thursday, April 16, 2009

Happy To Be Wrong

In one of my previous posts I mentioned (in a rather worried manner) about the dwindling interest from both audience and budding musicians in Western Classical music. I was wrong.

Two stories covered by BBC World News between yesterday and today made me realize this.

The first one was about how a publicly financed music education program in Venezuela which helps youngsters from extremely impoverished background, learn Classical music of Bach and Beethoven. The program is called El Sistema and it’s been running successfully for more than 30 years now. The program keeps these youngsters away from getting into wasteful and criminal activities like drugs and mugging and instills the ‘joy of music’ in their lives.

The Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra, a product of the program has been getting rave reviews across the world from the critics and all the top rated musicians. To know more about this wonderful effort you can read this
piece from BBC News.

Can we replicate the same model in India to give a boost to its own Classical music? In my mind, it can be a great way of discovering genuine talent hidden in the teaming pool of poverty in our country (40% of India lives Below Poverty Line, i.e. $1.25 a day). It may, along with the 'joy of music' give them a source of income.

The second story was about using a product of modern times to popularize Classical music. The result is the YouTube Symphony Orchestra.

The video-sharing website held a contest that allowed anyone, anywhere to upload a clip of themselves playing. A selection went to a popular vote. 90 winners from 30 different countries were flown in to play at Carnegie Hall, New York - one of the most prestigious venues in the world. The musicians came from as far away as Australia and South Korea.

The performance which happened yesterday was a great success with the Orchestra playing the works of Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Prokofiev and a new composition, appropriately called, ‘Internet Symphony No 1’. To know more about it you can read this
article from NYT.

Great way to make classical music reach a wider audience, especially the young people!

Now, I’m less worried...feel like listening to Debussy's 'Claire de lune'.


blaiq said...

I recently learned about the Sistema programme and was also amazed.

Here's a video of the orchestra performing.

And here's Jose Antonio Abreu talking about how the whole thing came about.

Deepanjan said...

I loved the performance of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra!

And yes, I love Clair De Lune!

Western Classical, unfortunately, is almost completely unknown in India. Bollywood obsession has blinded us.

Masroor said...


meraj said...

thanks blaiq for sharing the video and the talk. Mr Abreu is a great man.

thanks for dropping true about the sitiuation of Western Classical in India. Intrestingly, Sri Lanka (where I am located right now) has got a good amount of the genre going.

music should become an essential part of academic syllabus.

Pooja Nair said...

To be happy to be wrong is a sign of true open-mindedness.

I came across this quote which says "music is like nutrition for the soul"

how well put!

mr bojangles said...

hehe.. well, i'm not worried seeing eclectics like you who not seek out forgotten art but also ensure the joy of experiencing is spread all around.

meraj said...

thats really very well put...who is behind this quote?

mr bojangles,
good to know that you arent worried...better to know that am responsible for it :)

mr bojangles said...

hehe. yes. yes. tum ho na!

and i meant having eclectics like you who not only seek out forgotten art..

Pooja Nair said...

Heard the quote on TV. Unfortunately I was not actively watching so I missed out who said the quote...but, clearly I really liked it. :)

I think it was during the same report you saw on BBC...