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Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero mourns 'the loss of our country'

By Peter Bale, CNN
March 6, 2014 -- Updated 1523 GMT (2323 HKT)
Gabriela Montero was moved to tears at the sight of Venezuelans at her London concert
Gabriela Montero was moved to tears at the sight of Venezuelans at her London concert
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Pianist Gabriela Montero tells a London concert how Venezuela is being lost to violence and corruption
  • Montero was moved to tears by seeing Venezuelan flags in the crowd
  • Few outside Venezuela understand what is happening, Montero tells her audience

Read this story in Spanish.

London (CNN) -- Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero dedicated part of a London concert to those confronting the government in Venezuela, saying she felt "our sadness, our impotence, our frustration".

Fighting back tears, the 40-year-old virtuoso, who is a noted critic of the collectivist policies of President Nicolas Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chavez, improvised a piano piece which she said was her interpretation of the struggle in Venezuela of anti-government activists.

"When I improvise, people understand, people feel the pain that we feel," she told her audience at the Queen Elizabeth Hall of the Royal Festival Hall in London on Wednesday.

The audience was mainly English but dotted with Venezuelan flags and a smattering of her compatriots in caps and T-shirts in the starred yellow, blue and red colors of the Venezuelan flag.

Clearly moved by the presence of Venezuelans, she said: "To see the Venezuelans here, to see the flags, just killed me."

Born in Caracas to an American mother and a Venezuelan father, Montero was a child prodigy and is a star on the world concert tour. She played at the inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2009 and now lives in the U.S.

During a break in her concert, after taking requests from the audience and improvising on them, Montero told the audience Venezuela was facing a "very, very critical time".

It was "one of our great tragedies" she said, adding that few outside the country understood what was going on in Venezuela.

She referenced a high murder rate and, to applause, mourned what she called "the loss of our country to violence, to corruption and to the worst possible things you can imagine."

Montero has been outspoken in her support for those who have challenged the government in Venezuela and has deplored the state of the country and the crackdown on protesters.

Last month she criticized another famous Venezuelan music star, conductor Gustavo Dudamel of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, and younger conductor Christian Vazquez for performing in Venezuela while the protests raged on the streets.

"They played a concert while their people were being massacred," she said in an open letter.

Dudamel responded by saying he condemned the violence and his music represented the "universal language of peace".

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