Jazz Musician Wynton Marsalis Cancels Venezuela Concert Amidst Tension

Trumpet player Wynton Marsalis poses for photographers playing a few notes prior to his press conference at the Fine Arts Museum in Mexico City on March 6, 2015. Marsallis will perform in Mexico on March 7 and 8. 
Photo by OMAR TORRES/AFP/Getty Images

Award winning trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis has decided to cancel his concerts in Venezuela, Caracas, after political tension surfaces between the South American country and the U.S., the Guardian reports.

According to the report, Marsalis was supposed to play alongside the Simón Bolívar Orchestra in the first of three concerts on Friday. Marsalis’ plans in Venezuela also included leading a series of workshops with the El Sistema network of youth ensembles, along with fellow musicians from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.


However these plans changed after Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro demanded that the U.S. drastically reduce the size of its embassy. Maduro also put into place a new visa requirement for Americans, but also banning politicians such as George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Bob Menendez and Marco Rubio.

Maduro has cited protecting Venezuela from the U.S. who he claims is attempting to overthrow his government. The U.S. has denied such claims, saying they are an attempt to distract from Venezuela’s economic crisis, the Guardian notes.

Executive Director of the Jazz at Lincoln Center, Greg Scholl, expressed remorse over pulling the Caracas shows from the orchestra’s South American tour, but said that it would be a distraction admidst the unrest.

“[Jazz] is a powerful tool to bring people across cultures and geographies together”, Scholl told the Guardian. “But it’s important that it’s performed in conditions when the music can be heard.


“Intentionally or otherwise, if our performances there and the work that we were doing with them there was to become politicized those conditions no longer exist. And that could be harmful to both of our institutions,” he added.

Scholl also said that neither country’s governments pressured the group to cancel their performance.


Read more at The Guardian.

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