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Venezuelan Youth Orchestra Tour Canceled

August 21, 2017


Along with the sun in the path of eclipse totality today, the much-anticipated U.S. tour next month by Venezuela’s National Youth Orchestra went dark as well. Among the dozen cancellations: the scheduled Sept. 21 Berkeley concert in the Hearst Greek Theater and Sept. 17 appearance at the Hollywood Bowl.

The cancellation is the result of an order by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, recently engaged in an increasingly heated feud with Gustavo Dudamel over repressive measures in the country whence the Los Angeles Philharmonic music director hails. Dudamel is himself a product of El Sistema, which created Venezuela’s unique youth orchestra.

Until recently, Dudamel refrained from political statements, but then, in an op-ed piece for The New York Times he called on Maduro “to listen to the voice of the Venezuelan people. Times cannot be defined by the blood of our people. Enough is enough.” Maduro condemned the conductor who has been the pride of Venezuela — perhaps even more than the country’s baseball stars — and told him “I hope God forgives you.”

This morning, Dudamel tweeted: “We will continue to play and to fight for a better Venezuela and a better world,” with the hashtags #MusicUnites, #TocarYLuchar, #KeepPlaying, and #Venezuela.

Cal Performances Executive Director Matías Tarnopolsky wrote, in a message with the cancelation announcement, that he is “disappointed ... as I know the Bay Area community will be. The orchestra has an open invitation to Berkeley — we need now to engage the power of music to build bridges and create dialogue, and I look forward to welcoming these spirited, young musicians to share their artistry with us as soon as possible.”

Ticket holders have the option to apply the value of their tickets toward another Cal Performances event in the 2017–2018 season, donate their tickets, or request a refund at the ticket office or by calling (510) 642-9988. After Sept. 15, refunds will be issued to the credit card with which tickets were purchased, or by check for other payment methods.

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].