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Pauline Lerner

An Insight into the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra Making Great Music

March 25, 2009 at 6:31 AM

Today I got an email about the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra, and I remembered rave reviews about it on Laurie Niles wrote, in her blog of Feb. 26, 2009 ( that the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra is the jewel in the crown of El Sistema, an intensive method of training children in Venezuela, most of whom live in desperate poverty, to become top notch musicians who play and love music. Laurie wrote in another blog ( that she regretted missing a performance of the orchestra. Ravi Narasimhan, who had attended the concert, wrote in a comment to her blog, "The energy in Disney Hall will not soon be approached let alone exceeded. Mr. Dudamel [the conductor], believe it or not, transcends all that's been written and said about him. Jaded Angelenos went nuts."

This is a picture from Daylife ( of Gustavo Dudamel conducting the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra in a performance of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony during a rehearsal for the concert Laurie missed.  (Sorry, Laurie.)

The email I just got told me that the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra is performing at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Their performance is sold out, but they have scheduled an open rehearsal, with all seats in the house selling for $15. Wow! An open rehearsal may be even more interesting and fun than the concert. I've played in community symphony orchestras, and I know that the chemistry between the conductor and the musicians is a big part of the miracle of music making. I'd love to see how the conductor brings out the best in the young musicians. Of course, I bought a ticket right away. I chose to sit in the chorister section so I'll be above and behind the orchestra. From this vantage point, I'll almost be like an orchestra member following the conductor.

The open rehearsal is in about two weeks. I'm really excited about it, and I promise to write a blog about it.

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