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For Leonard Bernstein/West Side Story fans

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Wow, what a buzz! Follow this link (and look down the page a little) to see an incredible live performance of the "Mambo" from West Side Story, recorded this month at the BBC Proms. Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra. The conductor, who grew up in poverty in Venezuela, is the toast of the classical world right now; he's just been snatched up by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.




Here's a little about the musicians, from an article in The Observer:


He and his orchestra are but the apex of a unique enterprise; the zenith of something deeply rooted in Venezuela, formally entitled the National System of Youth and Children's Orchestras of Venezuela, but known simply as El Sistema. Inspired and founded in 1975 under the slogan 'Play and fight!' by the extraordinary social crusader Jose Antonio Abreu, El Sistema flourished with a simple dictum: that in the poorest slums of the world, where the pitfalls of drug addiction, crime and despair are many, life can be changed and fulfilled if children can be brought into an orchestra to play the overwhelmingly European classical repertoire.


And that is what happened. The road taken by Dudamel and his orchestra is one along which some 270,000 young Venezuelans are now registered to aspire, playing music across a land seeded with 220 youth orchestras from the Andes to the Caribbean.


Sorry about the tenuous association with classic movies; I only go to two message boards, and the other one is for Irish whistle enthusiasts! It's just so good though, especially if you need a pick-me-up in the middle of the work day.



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