Venezuela claims Guinness World Record for largest orchestra


CARACAS, Nov 14 (Reuters) – Venezuela on Saturday attempted to break the Guinness record for the world’s largest orchestra, as 12,000 musicians played a classical piece together for more than five minutes.

The attempt, by the country’s National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras, known as “The System”, would beat a Russian record set two years ago and will be judged by Guinness in the next 10 days. “The System” counts some 350,000 children and youths among its rank, playing in a network of 180 orchestras.

Saturday’s musicians, wearing white, played Piotr Ilich Tchaikovsky’s Marche Slave for 10 minutes at Caracas’ military academy. “It is a pleasure to be at the official attempt via video,” Guinness expert Susana Reyes said. The current record was set in Saint Petersburg, when 8,097 musicians played together.

Venezuela’s Information Minister Freddy Nanez and the Russian ambassador in Caracas, Sergey Melik-Bagdasarov, congratulated the musicians on Saturday in an address broadcast on state television.

The broadcast included a recording of Guinness World Records expert Susana Reyes announcing that the Venezuelan musicians had been successful in setting a new record after they played La Marche Slave by Pyotr Tchaikovsky for more than five minutes.

During the broadcast, President Nicolas Maduro showed the certificate from Guinness World Records which recognized that “El Sistema” broke the record with 8,573 musicians in the orchestra. The previous record was for an orchestra of 8,097 musicians who played together in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Conditions require musicians to be playing simultaneously without people swapping in and out, or lending their instruments to other players. Guinness did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Performance of the piece was observed by around 260 auditors from the accounting firm KPMG, charged with ensuring each musician complied with the rules to set a new record, which include not sharing instruments and playing for at least five minutes during the score.

“This is a great achievement not just for El Sistema but for our country,” said program director Eduardo Mendez.

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