Venezuela: 12,000 musicians in search of the Guinness record for the largest orchestra in the world
Steph Deschamps / November 14, 2021
The sunset in Caracas was accompanied by the sound of a giant orchestra Saturday night, when thousands of Venezuelan musicians performed Tchaikovsky's Slavic March to set the record for the world's largest orchestra.
Flanked by mountains, the courtyard of the Venezuelan Military Academy hosted about 12,000 musicians looking to enter the Guinness Book of Records. If you break a string, don't stop. If you lose the score, continue from memory, but do not stop, recommended the conductor Andres David Ascanio, 34, before raising his baton.
The 12-minute piece was performed under the watchful eye of some 260 employees of the auditing firm KPMG, who were responsible for ensuring that the musicians followed the rules for setting the new record, which included not sharing instruments and playing at least five minutes for each musician. Guinness is expected to announce within the next 10 days whether Venezuela has dethroned a Russian orchestra of 8,097 musicians assembled in 2019 to become the world's largest orchestra.
The performers were brought together by the Venezuelan public program El Sistema founded in 1975 which has provided classical music training to thousands of working class children. Gustavo Dudamel, music director of the Paris Opera and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, is one of its most famous former students.
On Saturday, a flock of macaws accompanied the young musicians in white T-shirts as they followed Ascanio's instructions displayed on a large screen. This is the first time in my life that I have seen the conductor on a screen, but we have adapted well, violinist Ernesto Laguna, 21, who traveled nearly 450 kilometers from the western city of Coro to play, told AFP.
Once the piece was over, many musicians released their emotion by raising their instruments to the sky.