Friday afternoon in Montalban, a concrete suburb of Caracas. I'm climbing the stairs of a cheerless modern block when, suddenly, a blast of Beethoven's Ode to Joy almost knocks me back down again. The sound is big and bold, if not exactly in tune; it is full of the exuberance with which Beethoven, by then deaf, set Schiller's words to music. The poet later said his work was "detached from reality". As I crest the stairs, so too is the sight before me: an orchestra of 70 Venezuelan children in shorts sawing and scraping out those unmistakable uplifting chords.
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