It is a truth universally held by media controllers that classical music is a minority interest and talent shows are good for music. In the Lebrecht interview last night, Gustavo Dudamel exploded both of those assumptions.
The conductor, who has played in el sistema since he was eight years old, brought evidence of how children from the poorest backgrounds are attracted to the discipline of playing an instrument and use it to infuse pride in their families and communities – whether in his native Venezuela, his workplace Los Angeles or a forsaken housing estate in Scotland.
‘They get a position in society,’ he explained. ‘With music, particularly with disadvantaged people, with people who don’t have access to things, to be rich in your soul, in your mind, you change that conception of poorness. They bring pride to their families, their community. Their ambition changes completely.’
The reverse effect, in his view, is the instant fame offered to the disadvantaged by television talent shows, an offer that flatters to deceive and is actively harmful in social terms. Talent shows, says Gustavo, are not helpful to society.
You can hear the full Lebrecht Interview on the BBC iPlayer for the next seven days.