News & Resources
Orchestras of the Venezuelan Diaspora
The Ensemble Editors
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are 5.4 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants worldwide—one of the largest displacement crises in the world. Many among these are former students, teachers, and leaders of El Sistema, Venezuela’s national youth orchestra program founded by Maestro José Antonio Abreu in 1975. This growing diaspora has been shaping and enriching cultures in host countries; displaced Venezuelans continue to make beautiful music, and not just as teachers and solo performers. Across the world, Venezuelan-founded orchestras continue to pop up, no less brilliant than those that made El Sistema a globally adapted model. One article in the magazine Guataca, which promotes Venezuelan music and musical initiatives around the world, reminds us of that continuing legacy.
“The Symphonic Harvest of Venezuelan Migration,” by Eudomar Chacón Hernández, lists six orchestras founded by Venezuelan musicians, each based in a different country across Europe and the Americas. Hernández provides brief histories of each orchestra, including their founders, updates from these pandemic times, and links to their performances. For those looking to acquaint (or reacquaint) themselves with the many beautiful orchestras of the Venezuelan diaspora, we recommend this article as a starting point.
Even if these orchestras are familiar to you—and some were new to us!—we hope you take the time to watch and share their performances. All of the orchestras performed their first concerts within the past six years, and most within the past two. The pandemic has certainly affected their ability to grow and perform. Still, their music serves as a celebration of joy, of the vibrancy that music brings to life, and of the musical excellence and social commitment that began back in 1975 with the formation of a single youth orchestra.