The most striking stories from Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra 13-day tour to South America last June recount the interactions of the players with something like 20,000 of their counterparts, for whom music provides the most meaningful escape from deplorable poverty.
Chronicler Richard Dyer provides a lucid counterpoint to the moving responses of the players. Images and sounds galore (indeed full recordings of every piece on the tour) further testify to the rewards of this memorable journey.
In an extensive blog entry linked below, Benjamin Zander illuminates the task of leading a youth orchestra of 105 players on a concert tour to three countries in South America, involving 120 people, 34 bus rides; 8 plane trips, 7 concerts in packed halls; and countless side-by-side events with young South American musicians.
“It also became clear that for many of us, this tour was in part a political journey. Several members of the orchestra told me that they felt self-conscious, even embarrassed, about traveling to South America, as representatives of a country whose current leadership has been so openly antagonistic to foreigners. However, at one concert after another, the wildly enthusiastic reaction to the Stars and Stripes, showed us that our audience was responding to the energy, the open-heartedness and the enthusiasm of the young people in the orchestra.
The warm embrace of the Latin people gave courage to our young Americans that the world doesn’t see us only through the eyes of our present misguided administration. For many of them it reaffirmed their belief that an orchestra can be an instrument for keeping alive America’s vision of Possibility for the world.”
Asked to choose one moment of the tour as most emblematic, without hesitation Zander suggested Oblivion by Piazzolla played by flutist Carlos Aguilar in a concert for 1,000 children.
Ben Zander’s sweeping account will surely entertain and reward.