As I am in the music field in Mexico,trying with others to make the same project work here, I was able to see this extraordinary documentary several months ago. It was a private showing, and almost the entire audience, friends,maestros, musicians, were weeping through it - deeply moved and filled with hope.
They'd already seen or owned "Tocar y Luchar", the first beautiful film on El Sistema, but now Maria Stodmeier and Paul Smaczny have gone deeper, and have captured what is beyond words. Their general response of unmitigated admiration for El Sistema's founder, José Antonio Abreu whom Claudio Abbado calls "a saint".
And now, when you see what musicians, such as the true ambassador Gustavo Dudamel,the Simón Bolívar Orchestra, to mention just a few, have emerged from the project,you'll marvel at why it took more than thirty years for us in North America to catch on.
El Sistema has expanded since the first film exposure, and to me, part of the miracle is
how children play as if they were adults - no passage of time seems present. Their dedication - theirs and that of the teachers and staff who work with Abreu - is almost surreal. Where did all these old souls in children's bodies come from? Is this what happens when they're given a chance to experience classical music? When you listen to their wisdom, so beautifully reflected in the many levels of the project, you'll probably be speechless. And hopeful.
There's a great deal more to say about this remarkable documentary which I hope anyone with the least interest in changing the world, orders sight unseen. Paul Smaczny of EuroArts, who has produced the world's finest concert films on DVD, together with the brilliantly sensitive Maria Stodmeier, have done us all a great favour.
I thank them a thousand times over...and when you see some of the little touches - such as a hawk slowly hovering over dense and sprawling Caracas, free and soaring on the wind -
you'll understand the spiritual message of the film far beyond words.