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Venezuelan president Maduro calls out Gustavo Dudamel, cancels youth orchestra's U.S. tour

by Michelle Lanz | The Frame

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Gustavo Dudamel conducts the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra during the ministers swearing-in ceremony in Caracas on April 22, 2013. AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro recently had some strong words for L.A. Philharmonic artistic director and fellow countryman Gustavo Dudamel.  

 

In a televised news conference on Aug. 18, Maduro said he didn’t understand why Dudamel would want to get involved in political matters.

The charismatic conductor recently wrote an op-ed for the New York Times criticizing the Venezuelan government for its violent crackdown on public protest and its efforts to rewrite the country’s constitution.

Dudamel also reportedly played a part in an effort to free an imprisoned classical violinist who’d taken part in street demonstrations.

Maduro sarcastically welcomed Dudamel to the world of politics, and he warned that there would be repercussions. And this week, Madero canceled a forthcoming U.S. tour by Venezuela’s celebrated youth orchestra. That tour included a Hollywood Bowl performance next month that was to be conducted by Dudamel, himself a product of El Sistema — Venezuela’s government-sponsored youth music program.

We called Los Angeles Times classical music critic Mark Swed, who's been following this story. We asked just how important this orchestra is for the people of Venezuela.

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