Venezuelan President Cancels Gustavo Dudamel's Venezuelan Youth Orchestra Tour
L.A. Philharmonic conductor and music director Gustavo Dudamel was scheduled to conduct a four-city U.S. tour with Venezuela's National Youth Orchestra, but Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro canceled the tour in the wake of Dudamel's support for the citizen protests in the crisis-ridden country.
Dudamel, who is Venezuelan, has vocally criticized the Venezuelan government in recent months as President Maduro conducted an election in July to establish a new Venezuelan Constituent Assembly. The Assembly has the role of writing a new constitution for the country, which Maduro argues is necessary as the economic crisis deepens in the South American nation. Venezuela has elected a Constituent Assembly before, under Hugo Chavez in 1999, but that assembly arose after a national referendum. July's election was convened by a presidential decree from Maduro.
Venezuelans have taken to the streets in recent months to criticize Maduro's actions, arguing that they veer towards dictatorship. Dudamel has voiced his support and even participated in talks resulting in the release of violinist Wuilly Arteaga, according to the L.A. Times.
The Venezuelan youth orchestra stems from the country's publicly-funded El Sistema youth music education program, which Dudamel has long been associated with. Maduro canceled the youth orchestra's tour by saying "act with ethics, and don’t let yourself be deceived into attacking the architects of this beautiful movement of young boys and girls," according to the L.A. Times. Dudamel himself is a product of the El Sistema program, according to the New York Times. Maduro has criticized Dudamel for spending time in Spain and the U.S. despite the growing turmoil in his home country.
Before the constituent assembly election, Dudamel wrote an op-ed in the New York Times criticizing his home country. "My country is living through dark and complicated times, following a dangerous path that may lead us inevitably to the betrayal of our deepest national traditions," he wrote.
The tour was scheduled to perform at the Hollywood Bowl on September 17.
Heart-breaking cancellation of our 4-city NYOV US tour. (1/4)— Gustavo Dudamel (@GustavoDudamel) August 21, 2017
My dream to play with these wonderful young musicians cannot come true - this time. (2/4)— Gustavo Dudamel (@GustavoDudamel) August 21, 2017
Thanks to our friends at Wolftrap, Ravinia, Berkeley and the Hollywood Bowl for all their support. (3/4)— Gustavo Dudamel (@GustavoDudamel) August 21, 2017