He emerges from his car running, he’s sprinting towards me, with hench-people running to keep up, and he tells me what an unspeakable honour it is for the orchestra, for him, for Venezuela itself, that I am doing this concert, hardly allowing me to dispense my compliments to him.
He’s short, shorter than me, boyish in appearance and in garb, varnished with none of the gloss that adheres to most international stars of classical music; it’s as if he’s about to play a football match, bursting with energy, and as we advance towards the rehearsal room, people run at him from all sides with requests, greetings, demands. He doesn’t break his stride. As we walk he talks to me about the concert, the hall, the problems, the hopes, the music, above all the music.
He even stops, actually stands still, for a second to remind me of the inexpressible beauty of Ophelia’s oboe theme from Hamlet. He sings it to me, his eyes fill with tears, then he laughs for the sheer perfection of it and we surge on into the cramped rehearsal room where 140 of young Venezuela’s best are tuning up with a volume and an intensity that is overwhelming.
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Photo: Nohely Oliveros