quinta-feira, 29 de abril de 2010
About the Lecture
Gustavo Dudamel radiates so much passion and ebullience that it requires little imagination to see him at the podium with a baton in hand. MIT’s 2010 McDermott Award in the Arts winner is, at the tender age of 29, one of the world’s top conductors and music disseminators. In conversation with two MIT music luminaries, and moderator Maria Hinojosa, Dudamel describes the remarkable music education system in Venezuela that set him on his path, and that continues to inspire his work in the U.S. and around the world.
“When El Sistema gave me an instrument, it was the best moment in my life,” says Dudamel, who attributes his success and world view in large part to Venezuela’s 35-year-old innovative music education system -- or as Dudamel characterizes it, a transformative social movement. The brainchild of economist and politician Jose Antonio Abreu, El Sistema invites children from all of Venezuela’s communities to play music and join orchestras through their school years. The result is an extraordinary national experiment that “changes the life of families and towns,” says Dudamel. “The problem with society is exclusion, and when you give an instrument to a child” you are changing the life of the family and the entire community, he says. Today, 300,000 Venezuelan children are growing up playing classical music, and learning along the way how to instruct even younger students in performance and conducting. This collaborative learning and teaching organization, says Dudamel, led him to his vocation.
MIT Media Lab professor Tod Machover watched Dudamel conduct the MIT Orchestra the night before. Machover comments that Dudamel, unlike more autocratic conductors, “found a way to combine leadership, and being part of a group.” Machover, whose own interests in technology and music encourage ways of building connections among people, views Dudamel and El Sistema as an inspiration for creating community through music-making. Dudamel responds that he doesn’t “feel like a boss as a conductor,” but more like a chef in a kitchen with his team. He comes up with an idea, and someone says “maybe this can be more salty, and you have to be open to that.”
Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Harbison notes that his only experience with state-sponsored musical “nurturing” was in Canada at a young composer program, which felt like “some form of heaven.” He doesn’t hold out much hope for a “parallel experience in concert music in the U.S.,” regretting that “we have a more affluent society which has established certain kinds of cultural values…Now we have generations of kids who haven’t heard a note of concert music or jazz, or high quality exploratory music. We have a real lacuna, a hole we need to address.” Harbison sees Dudamel as “a tremendous asset,” perhaps a crucial element in a campaign to touch a new generation in America and beyond.
Dudamel is more than willing to be a global ambassador for music-making and for breaking down barriers of all kinds. He is starting youth programs at his new home base in Los Angeles, in Korea, Germany and Italy, and also in Boston at the New England Conservatory. “We have a phrase in Venezuela -- tocar y luchar -- to play and to fight, which is also the symbol for El Systema.” The borders that exist in the world between peoples are “all in our head,” says Dudamel, “and our message through music is everyone has a chance to have a future, together.”