Venezuelan Musicians Seek Refuge In Orchestras in Brazil and Abroad

More than 80% of the members of Orchestra Simón Bolívar left Venezuela after the recession worsened during the Nicolás Maduro's government

Isabella Menon
São Paulo

There are few members left from the Orchestra Simón Bolívar, a part of the called El Sistema, a musical education program founded in 1975 by the economist and conductor José Antonio Abreu. The orchestra, part of a social project, served over 350,000 young musicians from Venezuela's poorest regions.

Now, with Venezuela's political and social crisis, this initiative is unraveling, and the talented musicians trained there are scattering all over the world.

According to seven El Sistema members who talked to Folha, 100 of the 120 names that were part of the orchestra at its peak have already left the country, escaping the harsh conditions that Venezuelans have been facing in the last few years.

Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel

However, El Sistema's top-notch training allowed Venezuelan musicians to be well received in other orchestras and musical ensembles abroad.

O., a musician that asked to remain anonymous, dreams of coming to Brazil and says that she hasn't left Venezuela yet because she is trying to do it legally. The violinist doesn't know if this will even be possible - she says many citizens aren't allowed to leave even if they are in line to board their flights.

Another violinist, Jorge Velásquez, 26, moved to Manaus a little over a month ago and had already found work the Amazonas Philharmonic. A child of musicians, he left Venezuela for Brazil with his family, and although he is not religious, a local church has been helping him to settle in the city.

Translated by NATASHA MADOV

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