|Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela Makes First U.S. Tour|
Venezuelan Youth Orchestra Inspires American Audiences
One of the biggest frenzies to occur in the realm of classical music news in 2007 was over the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela and its dynamic young conductor, Gustavo Dudamel. The amazingly talented ensemble made its first U.S. tour in November, and Classical Movements is elated to have played a role in helping these extraordinary young musicians bring their music, and their inspiration, to American audiences.
The tour, organized by renowned management company Askonas Holt, included concerts at Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles, Davies Hall in San Francisco, Symphony Hall in Boston and Carnegie Hall in New York. Guest appearances at various concerts were made by such musical luminaries as pianist Emanuel Ax, Sir Simon Rattle and composer John Williams. To say that the concerts were received by audiences and critics alike with enthusiastic acclaim would be a gross understatement.
"Dudamel is absolutely revelatory" said the Los Angeles Times, while the San Francisco Chronicle proclaimed, "Dudamel and his orchestra unleashed an extraordinary musical fireball.The level of musical sophistication and eloquence on display was astonishing, but so too was the sheer energy involved." As for the audiences' take on the performances, their approval was easily recognized by the sight of patrons jumping to their feet, bursting into a frenzy of thunderous applause and bestowing on Dudamel and the orchestra the sort of fervent reception normally granted to rock stars.
The story of the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra is one of unmitigated success. The musicians, almost 200 strong and ranging in age from 12-26, are the crème of the crop of El Sistema, Venezuela's government-sponsored system of music education that reaches nearly 250,000 students. The program was founded by Dr. José Antonio Abreu. Many of the young musicians come from poverty, and many are not unfamiliar with the concepts of street gangs and other brutal realities of urban life. Instead, these young artists are now called "world-class musicians," tackling technically advanced literature, creating artistically superb music and bringing joy to the thousands for whom they perform.
Gustavo Dudamel, for his part, is perhaps the most talked-about conductor on the music scene today. At age 27, he is awaiting his scheduled appointment to the role of Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2009. CBS News' 60 Minutes called Dudamel "the hottest thing to hit classical music since Leonard Bernstein."