Maestro Dudamel’s ambitious four-year project consists of 100 musicians from 42 countries.
Symphony, a new VR film featuring the music of Beethoven, Bernstein, and Mahler, premiered recently in Madrid after roughly four years in development. Brought to us by Gustavo Dudamel, music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Venezuelan-born orchestra director hopes his immersive short film can serve as a youth-friendly tool for exposing younger generations to the world of classical music.
Arranged by Spain’s La Caixa Foundation, Symphony features the tireless work of 100 talented musicians from 42 different countries. Dudamel himself was introduced to music as a child by El Sistema, a group of Venezuelan youth orchestras with a specific emphasis on community, which explains the emphasis on national diversity.
“The most beautiful thing would be to join through our differences, and not see them as an element of division,” said Dudamel while speaking to BBC. “I think that fact that each youth comes from different socioeconomic, cultural and religious context and then they play together to create one discourse – that is music.”
“Without difference, there can be no harmony,” he continues, “If we only see our differences as distinctions, then we just have cacophony, and that is what we see in Venezuela today: chaos. Ideologies and egos must be set aside and dialogue is the only solution.”
The 12-minute film begins with a silent introduction of three musicians from The Gustavo Dudamel Foundation, an organization co-chaired by Dudamel alongside his wife that focuses on providing support to young musicians from Sweden to Venezuela. However, the film quickly turns from an inaudible exposé to a musical extravaganza, beginning with Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Dudamel himself serves as virtual guide throughout the film, explaining to the audience everything from how the instruments were created to the effects of their sounds on the human brain.
“It’s a magical journey through music and how it is a universal language that anyone can connect with,” said Dudamel. “For me the idea was always to bring young people to classical music, and now we have these technical resources. But I didn’t just want something the new generations can enjoy, but rather so that they feel that this music is something that belongs to them.”
Symphony made its world premiere in Madrid this past Holiday season. The short film will soon begin a 10-year tour as it travels to hundreds of locations throughout Spain and Portugal.
Image Credit: MÁXIMO GARCIA/LA CAIXA FOUNDATION