ON AUGUST 23rd 2007, the Daily Telegraph, a newspaper not known for its hyperbolic tendencies, ran a breathless headline wondering: "Was this the greatest Prom of all time?" Footage from the concert in question, showing Dudamel and the Bolívars performing "Mambo!" from Leonard Bernstein’s "West Side Story", has since been viewed nearly half a million times on YouTube. The teenaged players, to the stunned delight of a 5,000-strong audience at the Royal Albert Hall in London, ditch their dinner jackets for tracksuit tops in the colours of the Venezuelan flag, jump to their feet, fool about with their instruments and generally give the impression that playing in a symphony orchestra is the greatest gig imaginable.
Among those who received a link to that video was Jamie Bernstein, daughter of Leonard. "I clicked on it thinking, 'oh, this is one of those Facebook things' and just fell into my screen," she says when we meet in New York. "I thought, 'who are these people, where is this energy coming from?' I never thought I would again have those chills in a concert that I used to get watching my Dad conduct. And then I thought, 'where is my Dad to see it all, because this is everything he ever meant.'
"He would have gone down there, to Venezuela, in a shot. He would have crushed every rib in Gustavo’s body with the hug, and he would have been in awe of Maestro Abreu. He would have been beside himself with excitement." Soon after viewing the viral clip, Jamie herself headed down to Caracas—"because I started finding out about El Sistema and I thought, 'this is way too good to be true'."
As always, posted here for sharing & storage purposes.