Dr. Alfred Duckett, associate professor of music, has been selected as a guest conductor for the Orquesta Sinfonico de Falcon in Cora, Venezuela. The professor is set to lead the orchestra on Friday, July 12, 2019, in one of the oldest cities in the state of Falcon, on the coast of Venezuela, three hours away from Aruba.
“I am honored and proud to be a part of this movement and to serve as a guest conductor of one of the professional orchestras created through El Sistema,” said Duckett, who attended a conducting symposium in Venezuela last summer. He was then invited back this year to serve as a guest conductor, and an invitation has already been extended for next year.
El Sistema is a program established in Venezuela by Jose Antonio Abreu in 1975. According to a release, “El Sistema is one of the most important musical, social action, and cultural programs in the world. As a result of El Sistema, many economically deprived youth with poor life chances have been enabled to lead meaningful and productive lives. Through the years El Sistema has produced not only thousands of world-class musicians but has inspired many to pursue other professional and productive careers.”
“During my previous visit, I found the people of Venezuela to be warm, friendly, and passionate about life. As most people know, Venezuela is experiencing great political and economic challenges, and in times like these, they need to know that their friends care,” he said. “I view this cultural exchange as critically important and a testament to the value and strength of the arts.”
Duckett shared that he was surprised by the offer because his Spanish needs some work. However, he added that this opportunity is less about language and more about conducting. “A lot of talking is not necessary. You do a lot of the talking with your hands and gestures.”
The professor said he is excited to be going to Venezuela. “You know they call it a socialist country. Everyone seems to dump on it a lot, but it is really a beautiful place. Also, El Sistema is known all over the world, and those musicians are supremely gifted.”
A native of Greenville, South Carolina, Duckett has been at JSU since 2014. “I love teaching. I love being able to share with students my experiences. I like watching students grow. I enjoy watching the evolution from when they enter school and whom they become when they leave.”