Jan Wagner, Caracas born, is former principal conductor of the Odense Symphony Orchestra in Denmark and a regular guest conductor with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Venezuela. Today, he joins the protests by Gabriela Montero and Carlos Izcaray against the continuing violent suppression of dissenting citizens in his country. Here is Jan’s letter to Slipped Disc:
As another Venezuelan citizen, artist, musician and conductor living abroad I wish to express my solidarity with the people of my country and add my voice to the thousands around the world who are calling for an end to the violence, oppression, injustice and flagrant violations of human rights that are currently being infringed upon a peaceful nation by a ruthless and despotic government.
As peaceful demonstrators without arms, our only hope to help bring closure to this crisis in Venezuela is to appeal to world leaders, artist of repute, intellectuals, the media and ordinary citizens outside of Venezuela to join the cause by spreading the word and making their voices heard.
Many of my musician colleagues, friends and family members in Venezuela are afraid of expressing themselves through the already restricted access to social media out fear of repercussions and persecution by the government and out of fear of loosing their jobs and, thus, their livelihoods.
The word is already beginning to spread about the atrocities already committed (and which continue to be committed against my people) by the current pseudo-revolution. Postings on social media already illuminate the many barbaric acts that continue to unfold. But we must continue the build pressure on the government to cease it illegitimate stronghold on power.
Let us not forget that it was a Venezuelan Simón Bolívar who led the most fantastic and courageous battle against oppression in the early 19th Century and virtually single-handedly liberated, not only our country, but also Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Bolivia, laying the foundation for democracy for most of Latin America. Where are the grateful leaders of those countries and when will they express their support and solidarity with the people of Venezuela? Don’t leave Venezuela alone now when it needs you the most!
As an individual completely opposed to violence and a firm believer in the power of expression through music, I’d like to share a recording of a work by one of Venezuela’s most significant composers, Evencio Castellanos, whose EL Rio de las Siete Estrellas (The River of the Seven Stars) evokes the spirit in which our republic was conceived. The work was inspired by a poem written by Venezuelan poet Andres Eloy Blanco whose poem, “Canto al Orinoco” is a fabled account of pre-colonial Venezuelan history leading up to its independence in 1821 (One a side note: yes, the Venezuelan flag has seven stars. Not eight. That’s one of many insulting and capricious atrocities committed against the people of Venezuela by the current “Chavista” revolution abhorring the memor, dignity and history of our predecessors).
May the power of this music inspire us all to help liberate our Venezuelan brothers and sisters from the tyranny of those who currently oppress them.
Jan Wagner, proud Venezuelan national (I.D. 6.819.447) and proud dual citizen of the United States of America.