On an invitation from the Festival’s co-directors, Venezuelan composers Alfredo Rugeles and Diana Arismendi, I was able to extricate myself from the frenzy of end-of-year admin at ICMuS to fly to Caracas for five days. This was not the festival’s entirety but a section of it, for my hosts had been kind enough to invite me to attend the festival in whole or in part. Three pieces of mine were to be performed: Trío, Una música escondida and the song cycle Alquimia. Shortly before my departure for Caracas I discovered that two of these had been dropped, leaving Una música escondida to be played by Orquesta Filarmónica de Caracas under the Salvadorean composer and conductor German Cáceres.
This was to be my first visit to Venezuela since 1977, when as principal viola with the Bolivian Youth Orchestra I had attended a festival of youth orchestras instigated by the then young El Sistema, the brainchild of José Antonio Abreu. I had then had occasion to admire the wealth of talent and the plethora of rich personalities that country seems to brim over with.
Accommodation was at Hotel Alba. This had formerly been the Caracas Hilton but it had some time ago been taken over by the government, who was, reportedly, determined to keep it as a five-star hotel while making it accessible to ordinary Venezuelans and visitors coming on official business. Were this a different kind of blog I should like to expand on Hotel Alba, but, since it is a music blog, suffice it to say that Hotel Alba looks and feels like its days of glory are over and its days of life are numbered. Thanks, however, to receptionist Angel Domínguez for sorting out my internet connection.