Some thoughts about the LA Phil’s Americas and Americans Festival

6 May

by Veronika Krausas

In the last few weeks at the LA Philharmonic there has been the Americas and Americans Festival and it’s been quite the whirlwind. I’ve been really lucky to interview many of the composers and directors of many of the shows.  This past weekend I had the honor of talking with the Venezuelan director Alberto Arvelo (whose film A House with a View of the Sea was an official selection of the Cannes Film Festival and received 18 awards in more than 50 international festivals) and the oscar-nominated writer Guillermo Ariaga (whose films include Babel, 21 Grams, Amores Perros and The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.)

There were 2 things that really struck me.  One, is about education.  Arvelo also made the documentary on El Sistema, the Venezuelan musical educational system that our new LA Phil’s music director Gustavo Dudamel is both a product and advocate.  He talked so strongly about the need for art and music in our education systems and how it’s vital and our obligation to include them and not only to teach kids how to do things but also to teach them how to be happy.

The second thing dealt with nationalism. Ariaga recounted his experience when he was in Australia and how the aborigines there don’t mark their borders with lines and boundaries but rather they identify where they’re from by the types of songs they sing.  And he talked about how “Nationalism is not about borders but rather about imagination and the stories we tell!”

Gustavo Dudamel, the LA Phil’s music director, wanted this festival to link people together.  He said “so that borders dissolve, and we find those common threads and musical moments which unite North and South America as one.”    The energy of the concerts and the audience and the performers certainly accomplished that.

I love the idea of singing at a border and teaching kids to be happy and making sure stories continue to get told.

Afterthought:  The only thing I think they left out was some Canadian music …  hmm …

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