30 November 2010
Walking up the Calle Real last night after enjoying a wonderful concert of classical music, I said to my friends "if Barcelona beat Real Madrid 3-0 now, it will be a perfect evening". Well, they didn't of course, they beat them 5-0; perfection + 2. But enough gloating for now.
The concert featured the Orquestra Joven del Bicentenario, the Youth Orchestra for the Bicentenary (2012 sees the 200th anniversary of the signing of the first Spanish Constitution in Cádiz). The orchestra was formed by Matthew Coman, a classical musician who lives in Alcalá and who also organises the classical music festival here every August. Assisted by fellow members of the Soloists of London, Matthew has trained thirty musicians aged between 13 and 20, from all over the Province of Cadiz. The aim is to have a high-quality orchestra to participate in the 2012 celebrations.
The orchestra was led by award-winning violinist David Le Page, and the programme comprised works from Haydn and Mozart, played to a standard that would not disgrace any concert hall (to my untrained ears, anyway). And we got it for free, at our little cultural centre in Santo Domingo, sitting just a few feet from the players. They have four more concerts to go, at different venues across the Province.
All Spanish teenagers are beautiful, with their shiny black hair, golden skin and big dark eyes, but when they are playing musical instruments they are even more so. These kids have been practising for eight hours a day, and their dedication and total engagement with the music brought a lump to my throat. The delight on their faces when rewarded with tumultuous applause was priceless.
It is strikingly clear that music and football are two of the best ways of teaching young people to work and play together, and give them a sense of worth. So what are the Coalition government in the UK doing? Cutting schools sports and arts budgets by 30%. The world needs more Matt Comans - and Pep Guardiolas for that matter.