Cowboy Sol

One of the Cowboy’s earliest and deepest memories – a recurring theme that has played throughout the Cowboy’s life – is a piece of music by the Mexican composer José Pablo Moncayo.

The Cowboy has much to say about this piece, but for the moment, let’s just focus on the bridge.

Gustavo Dudamel is a Venezuelan conductor whose star has been steadily rising.  The Cowboy has been following him for the last few years, and he likes what he sees.  For one thing, he’s adorable.  Now that’s not a word the Cowboy uses too often about a man, but what else would you call him?  Here he is with his wife, Eloisa Maturen (a ballet dancer).

Dudamel conducted the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar, a youth synphony from Venezuela, as part of the Proms in 2007.  In English, it is usually called the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, and Dudamel is its Artistic Director.  Much to the Cowboy’s amusement, the Orchestra was founded by an economist, José Antonio Abreu.  To be fair, Abreu is also an accomplished musician.  In fact, he is a very impressive man indeed.

The story gets better.  The Orchestra is part of something called “El Sistema” or “The System.”

From Wikipedia:

“Its official name is Fundación del Estado para el Sistema Nacional de las Orquestas Juveniles e Infantiles de Venezuela, abbreviated FESNOJIV, and sometimes translated to English as “National Network of Youth and Children’s Orchestras of Venezuela”.”

And later:

“Abreu was appointed as Special Ambassador for the development of a Global Network of Youth and Children orchestras and choirs by UNESCO in 1995, also as special representative for the development of network of orchestras within the framework of UNESCO’s “World Movement of Youth and Children Orchestras and Choirs”.”

And finally:

“The program is known for rescuing young people in extremely impoverished circumstances from the environment of drug abuse and crime into which they would likely otherwise be drawn.”

One young man who grew up in El Sistema starting at age 4 was, you guessed it, Gustavo Dudamel.

Now, a word about the Proms.  If you’re not familiar with it, the organizers call it the largest music festival in the world.  It was founded in 1895; it is held annually; and this year it will have 100 concerts.  Again, from Wikipedia:

The Proms, more formally known as The BBC Proms, or The Henry Wood Promenade Concerts presented by the BBC, is an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts and other events held annually, predominantly in the Royal Albert Hall in South Kensington, London.

Cool, huh?  Well, here’s an interview done by the BBC before Dudamel’s performance at Royal Albert Hall.  Remember, Dudamel is about to conduct the orchestra that is the family in which he was raised as part of El Sistema.

Money quote (starting at about 3:10, but watch the whole thing):

“The conductor needs to be more than a leader.  You need to feel that you are only a bridge between the composer and the orchestra. You have to have humility.  I think this is the most important quality of a conductor.”

Hmmm…  From the Cowboy’s viewpoint, that’s a pretty good recipe for a leader, at least for the kind of leader the Cowboy would want to be.  Here’s a great segment that aired on the U.S television show, 60 Minutes.

Now let’s get back to the solHuapango is well known in Mexico, and it is definitely one of the Cowboy’s anthems.  It’s even part of the Cowboy’s family – his mother introduced it to him as a child, and the Cowboy whistles the Adagio to his children every night as they fall asleep.

Dudamel and his family get it right.  Here are the program notes from the performance.

With these melodies, these rhythms, the Cowboy has always imagined sunrises and sunsets – the sun at its most vulnerable and its most accessible.  For the Cowboy, these are times of hope: hope for the day to come, hope for a better day tomorrow.  It is music that touches the Cowboy’s soul, or sol.  And if the sol is the light, the energy within us, well, then this captures the Cowboy’s sol as well

As for this year’s Proms, here you go.   Perhaps the Cowboy will see you there.  Look for my sol.  I’ll look for yours.  Perhaps we’ll find a bridge to connect the music of our hearts.

Published in: on April 9, 2009 at 22:03  Comments Off on Cowboy Sol  
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