Two concerts. Two emblematic buildings. Two metaphors for human nature.

Saturday 5.00 pm, “El Cerrito”

El Cerrito. Designed by Gio Ponti.

It is a house designed by the famous Italian architect Gío Ponti 60 years ago. It is located on the top of a hill in the east of Caracas and has a 360º view over the city. Not only its design itself is a work of art, but also each wall is an artistic mural, and even the ceiling is a painter’s palette. We were attending the concert “An appointment with Beethoven” with Elizabeth Guerrero (piano), and Alfonso López Chollet (violin). The program was composed of Beethoven’s piano sonatas “Spring Sonata” and the “Sonata Kreutzer”.

Not only was it a show of virtuosity on the part of the performers. But Elizabeth Guerrero also displayed before us her story telling skills when she made the presentation of the Sonata Kreutzer:

“The sonata is called Kreutzer because Beethoven composed it for Rudolf Kreutzer, a French violinist of German origin. However, he never played it, because when the composer presented it to him, the violinist told him that it was a piece made in a way that he called anti-natura, telling him that it was impossible to play (in fact, Mr. López had to fine-tune the violin after playing the 1st movement). Mr. Kreutzer had an unusual ability to cope with incredible vicissitudes; he was a violinist at the court of Marie Antoinette. When the king and his court were executed at the guillotine by the triumphant revolution and “The Reign of Terror” era began, he became Robespierre’s violinist. Later on, when the “Directory” got the power, he played for them. Finally, he played for the emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Leon Tolstoy, inspired by the 1st movement of the sonata wrote a tragic novella, and how he titled it? The Kreutzer Sonata!”.

While Mrs. Guerrero was telling that story to us, in my mind I was drawing a parallel between the events of that time and those happening recently in Venezuela. She put the icing on the cake when she said:

Everyone cracked up when she said that. From then on, we enjoyed the concert as if we were in our own house.

Sunday 6:00 pm. Central University of Venezuela’s Faculty of Infirmary.

It is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city, as well as one of the most neglected due to lack of maintenance. It has a Gothic chapel that not only is an architectural jewel, but it is bigger than many Venezuelan cathedrals. Due to its acoustic characteristics, it is the dream of an a cappella singer. We went there to watch Isabel Palacios and her Camerata de Caracas, one of the country’s best baroque chorus and orchestras.

Mrs. Palacios prepared a musical performance like none I had ever been to in my life. Imagine a musical play directed by Bach himself in the cathedral of Leipzig. That, neither more nor less, was what Mrs. Palacios brought to reality, thanks to her creativity, genius, passion, and sensitivity. She simultaneously played her antique harpsichord and directed the choirs and orchestra. The latter was split between the altar and the choir balcony in the back of the church, where she located the brass, percussion and bells. That distribution of the orchestra created such an atmosphere that the music enveloped us and made us feel like we were part of the performance itself.

On more than one occasion, I observed Mrs. Palacios shedding tears, which caused my heart to open up further to the experience. Later I realized that all the attendees had had the same feeling.

Camerata de Caracas gave us more than 2 hours of an amazing baroque music concert and show. At the end, my 21-year-old son literally jumped out of his seat to applaud, just as if he had just witnessed a Cold Play concert. Everyone else reacted in similar fashion and we all gave Isabel’s troupe a standing ovation for almost ten minutes.

“Hacia un mismo sentimiento” (“Towards the same feeling”). A concert that pictures in musical tones how the state of the world is affecting us.

The concert was not only a metaphor for the country, but for the world as well. Here is how Mrs. Palacios described the concert “Hacia un mismo sentimiento” (“Towards the same feeling”) and its philosophy to the newspaper El Nacional:

The concert describes human nature in five movements:

Amar (Love) (“In a sober and beautiful chapel a ringing of bells moves us through time and transports us to a strange medieval era: some announce that something is going to happen and others, that it already happened”).

Arraigar (Rooting) (“The bells speak to us again, but now they are a call to life, to work, man grows, takes root, settles and builds”).

Creer (Believe) (“The bells now lead us to the temple of faith where three pieces, united by a deep spirituality and solemnity, open their doors to us”).

Odiar (Hate) (“The human being has the ability to love and to believe, but just as there is darkness in the side of light, there is the terrifying ability to hate, to break, to shatter, to divide”).

Penar (Suffer) (“There is no war without death, and death takes us to the ritual, to the funeral, to the somber feeling of mourning, loss and emptiness”).

A country’s metaphor

In a country in which rampant hyperinflation is already around 4,000% a year and continues to rise, how does a musician makes a living from practicing her art? Tickets for a show like the one that Isabel Palacios created would cost a minimum of $50 in any city of the world, not to mention that she would have had sponsoring companies that would have contributed to finance its cost. The musicians who participated in these two concerts made extraordinary performances. However, with tickets selling at 25 cts, they could not do it as a means of earning a living; they did it out of the love they feel for the art that they practice.

Those musicians represent a microcosm of the Venezuelan inhabitants. All of us, with the exception of very few plugged in weasels, are interpreting the fifth movement of Mrs. Palacios creation — “Penar” (Suffer).

Helio Borges

Twitter: @hborgesg. Instagram: @heboga.



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Helio Borges

Helio Borges

Executive & Team Coach & Mentor. Cultural Transformation Change Agent & Consultant. Twitter: @hborgesg. Instagram: @heboga. FB: helio.borges.35. Uriji: @hborges