Venezuela’s President Has Blocked Gustavo Dudamel’s Youth Orchestra from Playing in the U.S.

The L.A. Phil director now finds himself playing on the political stage

The embattled president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, is not happy with L.A. Phil director Gustavo Dudamel. Dudamel has been working with the Youth Orchestra of Venezuela and was preparing to conduct the 180 young musicians during a U.S. tour — including a stop at the Hollywood Bowl next month — but those plans have been abruptly canceled by orders directly from President Maduro’s desk.

Dudamel, who hails from Venezuela and serves as creative director of that country’s Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra in addition to his L.A. Phil duties, raised the government’s ire with a series of social media posts and newspaper op-eds that were seen as critical of the Maduro administration, the Los Angeles Times reports. In addition, over the weekend, the conductor was involved in securing the release of violist Wuilly Arteaga, who was beaten and detained after performing at an anti-government protest in July.

As one of Venezuela’s most visible musicians, Dudamel has been criticized in the past by some for not using his public platform to speak out about the mounting problems facing the country, according to the classical music publication Limelight Magazine, but it seems that, with the escalating problems in the country, he is no longer remaining quiet, writing on his Facebook page that “We must stop ignoring the just cry of the people suffocated by an intolerable crisis.” 

President Maduro responded by criticizing Dudamel for spending too much time in Los Angeles and Spain working on other projects, and citing budget concerns as a reason for the cancellation, though also reportedly saying to reporters, “Welcome to politics, Gustavo Dudamel.”

The September 17 concert that the National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela was set to perform as part of the Pacific Standard Time: L.A./L.A. initiative will still go on without them, featuring performances by Café Tacvba, La Santa Cecilia, and Mon Laferte.

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