The moment has finally come for the return to London of one of the world’s most acclaimed youth orchestras. After their celebrated performance at the 2007 BBC Proms, Gustavo Dudamel and his Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra will be at the Southbank Centre for a five-day residency from today until Saturday 18 April. The Orchestra will present two Shell Classic International concerts on 14 and 18 April, which will be broadcast by Classic FM. These performances, available worldwide to millions of listeners, will be presented by Katie Derham on Saturday 25 April and Saturday 2 May at 3pm.
This project is definitely a highlight of the 2009 musical season in London – and not only in the capital, in fact. Northeast audiences will be able to attend a live broadcast of the concert of 18 April, screened live at The Sage Gateshead. This is also thanks to the Sage Gateshead’s Young Musicians Programme and CoMusica, the Northeast Youth Music Action Zone. This performance will feature Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and works by major Latin American composers. In addition, special installations at the Clore Ballroom will allow a wider audience to attend a free live broadcast of four concerts, and two open rehearsals in the Royal Festival Hall.
It is important also to stress the educational side of this project. The Southbank Centre highlights the support of the Department for Children, Schools and Families. This Department allowed the purchase of 2,645 tickets totalling £15,454 for the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra’s By the Players Concert (15 April) and the Family Concert of Popular Classics (17 April). This will give the chance to nearly 1,500 children, aged 16-and-under, to experience and enjoy the work of one of the finest youth orchestras with their parents and music teachers.
This project is a five-day musical celebration, and more. The Royal Festival Hall will also be the site of three symposia on the phenomenon of El Sistema. This is a 34-year old Venezuelan social programme whose aim is to engage young people, many of whom come from underprivileged backgrounds. At present, El Sistema works with more than 250,000 children, helping them to build self-confidence and discipline through the teaching of classical music. The SBYO is the most polished artistic product of this programme.
The celebrated founder of El Sistema, Professor Antonio Abreu, will be present at the symposia, together with Dudamel. The sessions will be chaired by James Naughtie (BBC Radio 4’s TODAY programme) and the Guardian’s Chief Arts Writer, Charlotte Higgins. Moreover, eminent personalities from the music scene will participate. Among them are the chair of Sistema Scotland, Richard Holloway; musician and chair of In Harmony, Julian Lloyd Webber; Shadow Arts Minister, Ed Vaizey MP; Director of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, Sarah Alexander; Chief Executive of Youth Music, Nicola Killean; Southbank Centre Artistic Director Jude Kelly; and Head of Contemporary Culture, Gillian Moore.
The Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra’s Residency represents the tip of the iceberg of an amazing spring season of international music made by and for young people. At the end of the SBYO week, the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain will perform its annual spring London concert at the Royal Festival Hall on 19 April. This event will also mark the launch of a new partnership with the NYO, which will be Southbank Centre’s first National Youth Partner.
More than 30,000 spectators are expected to fill the Royal Festival Hall and the Clore Ballroom during the SBYO five-day Residency. Considering also the millions of listeners on Classics FM, it is clear this partnership between the SBYO and the Southbank Centre is a unique and praiseworthy project: seeking to engage young people in classical music, projects such as this give the opportunity to wide audiences of all ages to explore and enjoy the artistic and educational power of music.
For further information, visit http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/music
Photo of Gustavo Dudamel: copyright Dan Porges
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