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Mobile orchestra tries to bring cheer to Venezuelan streets

A mobile orchestra has been playing on the streets of Venezuela in an effort to give people a brief respite from the coronavirus pandemic

By: AP | Barquisimeto (venezuela) |
Updated: March 6, 2021 3:24:34 pm
Wearing masks to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, musicians join pianist, composer and conductor Jose Agustin Sanchez on the bed of an eighteen-wheeler truck for a musical tour called "Musical Disinfection," in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. (Photo: AP)

Orchestra music envelops the streets of a Venezuelan city every time a truck carrying musicians has made its way through traffic for the past year capturing the attention of drivers and passersby who take photos and stare at the vehicle. The live performance is an effort to give people some small respite from the coronavirus pandemic and other hardships.

One hot afternoon this week the musicians climbed on the platform of the truck and wearing facemasks began to play as they travelled around Barquisimeto a city west of the capital Caracas.

Their instruments included a cello violin and even a Steinway Sons grand piano. Music beyond entertaining us it can transform us it can heal it can alleviate emotions said Jose Agustin Sanchez a Venezuelan pianist-composer and conductor who came up with the initiative.

Venezuela has seen more than 140,900 confirmed infections and 1364 deaths from COVID19. (Photo: AP)

Before the show began Sanchez reminded the musicians that their upcoming performance was musical disinfection that might provoke in them and their audience a range of emotions He told them to be ready to get yelled at but also to see someone clap and cry. The tour began outside a school of medicine next to a hospital Sanchez conducted the mobile orchestra from his piano as the musicians sweated under the midday sun. The orchestra performed for hours many of his melodies which he wrote while serving as resident composer of the Caracas Municipal Symphony Orchestra.

Venezuela has seen more than 140,900 confirmed infections and 1364 deaths from COVID19. Experts believe the small number of cases compared to other countries in the region such as Brazil Colombia and Peru is largely due to the isolation that Venezuela has been experiencing for years because of a political-economic and social crisis.

Barquisimeto is also known as the musical city of Venezuela for being the hometown of several of the country’s manufacturers of musical instruments musicians and composers including Gustavo Dudamel, the music and artistic director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the United States and considered one of the great conductors of today.

Sanchez 31 returned to Venezuela in 2017 after almost 11 years abroad. His travels took him to Tibet and Nepal where after several months of exploring peace from the sound he decided to return to his afflicted country to deliver a message of unity.

He has been touring Venezuela during the pandemic playing from the back of pickup trucks but also in medical facilities where patients with COVID19 are being treated. His Instagram account includes videos of Sanchez wearing personal protective equipment from head to toe and playing the piano next to patients and health care workers.

It is a worthy show it’s beautiful said Zulay Chirinos Marino a 60-year-old resident of Barquisimeto “I have goosebumps.”

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