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Gustavo Dudamel's tour with Venezuelan youth symphony canceled by President Maduro

Gustavo Dudamel among students at a 2012 showcase performance of El Sistema students in Caracas, Venezuela. (Mark Swed / Los Angeles Times)
Gustavo Dudamel among students at a 2012 showcase performance of El Sistema students in Caracas, Venezuela. (Mark Swed / Los Angeles Times)

The president of Venezuela has canceled the four-city American tour of that country's National Youth Orchestra, which was to be conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.

"My dream to play with these wonderful young musicians cannot come true - this time. ... We will continue to play and to fight for a better Venezuela and a better world," the L.A. Philharmonic director, who hails from Venezuela, tweeted Monday. 

The tour was to have included a Sept. 21 date at the Hollywood Bowl. 

"The performance of the National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, scheduled for September 17 at the Hollywood Bowl, has been cancelled. The original program of Café Tacvba, La Santa Cecilia and Mon Laferte is still confirmed," reps for the Hollywood Bowl said in a statement Monday. 

On Friday, President Nicolas Maduro went on TV to criticize Dudamel for spending time in Spain and the U.S. while the crisis in Venezuela deepens.

“I hope God forgives you,” Maduro reportedly said Friday. 

“Welcome to politics, Gustavo Dudamel. But act with ethics, and don’t let yourself be deceived into attacking the architects of this beautiful movement of young boys and girls,” Maduro said, referring to Dudamel’s association with El Sistema, a prominent Venezuelan musical education program.

The Youth Orchestra of L.A. is patterned after El Sistema. The National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela is a product of El Sistema. Dudamel has been creative director of Venezuela's Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra since 1999. 

Over the weekend, as the Venezuelan congress on Saturday rejected what it called a government takeover, a source told The Times that Dudamel had been involved in talks that resulted in the release of violinist Wuilly Arteaga last week. 

Arteaga has gained notoriety and a social media following for playing violin during violent street protests against the Venezuelan government.

Dudamel in May wrote a strongly worded Facebook post criticizing his home country's government. In July, he wrote similarly critical editorials that ran in the U.S. and in Spain.

"I urgently call on the President of the Republic and the national government to rectify and listen to the voice of the Venezuelan people. Times cannot be defined by the blood of our people. We owe our youth a hopeful world, a country where we can walk freely in dissent, in respect, in tolerance, in dialogue and in which dreams have room to build the Venezuela we all yearn for," Dudamel wrote.

"It is time to listen to the people: Enough is enough."

Update, 11:35 a.m.: This story was updated with a statement from the Hollywood Bowl.

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