Venezuelan classical musicians play for largest orchestra record

Venezuelan classical musicians play for largest orchestra record

CARACAS-Agence France-Presse
Venezuelan classical musicians play for largest orchestra record

Sunset in Caracas was accompanied by the sound of classical music on Nov. 14 as thousands of Venezuelan musicians performed Tchaikovsky’s ’Marche Salve’ to set the record for "the world’s largest orchestra".

Flanked by mountains, the courtyard of the Venezuelan Military Academy hosted around 12,000 classical musicians looking to make their way into the Guinness Book of World Records.

"If you break a string, don’t stop. If you lose the score, go on by heart, but don’t stop," conductor Andres David Ascanio, 34, said before the performance.

The 12-minute piece was observed by around 260 auditors from KPMG, charged with ensuring each musician complied with the rules to set a new record, which include not sharing instruments and playing for at least five minutes during the score.

Guinness will announce in the next 10 days whether Venezuela has outflanked a 2019 Russian orchestra of 8,097 musicians as the world’s largest.

The performers were brought together by Venezuela’s publicly funded ’El Sistema’ program, which was founded in 1975 and has since provided classical music training to thousands of working-class children.

Gustavo Dudamel, the music director of the Paris Opera and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, is one of its most notable alumni.

On Nov. 13, macaws flew overhead as the young musicians in white t-shirts followed Ascano’s instructions displayed on a large screen.

"It’s the first time in my life that I have experienced seeing the conductor on a screen, but... we adapted quite well," said violinist Ernesto Laguna, 21, who traveled nearly 450 kilometers (279 miles) from the western city of Coro.

The percussion came in with booming cymbals during the dynamic central section of Tchaikovsky’s 1876 work, which mixes Slavic, folkloric and nationalistic elements.

When the score was finished, many of the musicians released their emotions by raising their instruments to the sky.