Venezuelan musicians play in what they hope will be the world’s largest orchestra

Thousands of musicians, mostly children and adolescents, in Venezuela have tried to break the record for the world’s largest orchestra.

undreds of violins, violas and double basses, woodwinds, brass and percussion sounded at Venezuela’s military academy.

The musicians, all connected to the country’s network of youth orchestras, performed a roughly 10-minute Tchaikovsky piece outdoors.

Independent supervisors had the job of verifying that more than 8,097 instruments were playing simultaneously, which would break the record.

The country’s music network, known as El Sistema, had hoped to gather 12,000 musicians.

“This means that all these years that I’ve been with the orchestra were worth it, all those hours of rehearsing and all those hours of practising, which were many,” said Angele Barraoeta, a 15-year-old viola player who has been part of The System since she was four and usually plays with a regional group of about 230 people.


Members of the National Orchestra System play a 12-minute Tchaikovsky piece to try and break a Guinness World Record in Caracas, Venezuela (Ariana Cubillos/AP)

“So many people around you,” she added. “It’s an incredible feeling to be part of something historic. We hope to break the record.”

The Guinness World Records will determine within 10 days whether a record was set.

More than 250 supervisors were each assigned a group of musicians to observe during the record attempt. For the musicians to set a record, more than 8,097 had to be tallied playing at the same time during a five-minute period of Tchaikovsky’s Slavonic March.

The musicians, ranging in age between 12 and 77 and wearing black trousers, white shirts and face masks, attempted the record during a one-hour concert.

Each musician was given a numbered bracelet and an assigned seat based on their instrument. The Slavonic March is part of their musical education throughout their time in the youth orchestra network.

The rules they had to follow included not sharing instruments and being directed by a professional. That honour fell to Andres David Ascanio Abreu, who was projected on to huge screens so that every musician could see his directions.

“Well, it is a gigantic challenge, of course, a very complicated challenge, but full of great pride, of great passion,” Mr Abreu said. “And today, what we are seeing here is a minimal representation of what we are: We are 1,012,000 children and young people in El Sistema.”

After finishing the Slavonic March, the musicians erupted in cheers while lifting their instruments and waving Venezuelan flags.

“The largest orchestra in the world,” they exclaimed.

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