I've joined forces with Dudamel and the LA Phil in Caracas, who have in turn joined forces with the young people of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela (also under Gustavo's direction). I'll be doing hosting duties for the LA Phil LIVE broadcast of Mahler's gargantuan 8th, the "Symphony of a Thousand," in cinemas all over the US tomorrow at 5pm EST. I also get to see two extra Mahler concerts here, to see Caracas for the first time and to hang with the big LA Phil gang like a member of the family (or I suppose more accurately like an interloper at an enormous family reunion).
Perhaps the most extraordinary part of the trip has been our visits to the "nucleos" of El Sistema, the amazing Venezuelan program of music education for kids from 2 to 16 - surely the most extensive and sophisticated program of its kind in the world (the Simon Bolivar musicians are all graduates). Material filmed at these visits will make up a part of the introduction to the Saturday concert for US viewers of the broadcast.
I think I can say without exaggeration that it will be one of the best preparations for a concert and one of the the most thrilling symphonic experiences most of the viewers will have ever had. The interviews with Maestro Dudamel alone are a revelation. If you're reading this, promise me you won't miss it.
Editor's Note: To find a theater near you that's showing the LA Phil LIVE broadcast tomorrow, FEB 18, or to buy tickets, please visit the LA Phil LIVE site.