Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela
The Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela (SBSOV) was founded by Dr. José Antonio
Abreu and a group of fellow musicians who were inspired by the ideals of Simón Bolívar. The
orchestra comprises more than 200 young musicians ages 18-28, and is the flagship of the
Fundación Musical Simón Bolívar's orchestral academic program, known as El Sistema.
Across Venezuela, El Sistema currently involves 400,000 beneficiaries-75 percent of whom
live below the poverty line-in a system that includes more than 1,550 music groups
distributed among 286 academic centers. "For the children that we work with, music is
practically the only way to a dignified social destiny. Poverty means loneliness, sadness,
anonymity. An orchestra means joy, motivation, teamwork, the aspiration to success," says
El Sistema allows the musicians of the SBSOV to explore demanding repertoire through
master classes and concerts, involving soloists from leading orchestras and arts
institutions, such as the Berliner Philharmoniker, Sibelius Academy of Finland,
Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart, and New England Conservatory. Their work with
international conductors has included performances with Sir Simon Rattle and Claudio
Abbado, as well as working for months with Gustavo Dudamel, the orchestra's music director
and a product of El Sistema.
The SBSOV has toured Germany several times, and performed at the Parco della Musica
in Rome, Teatro Massimo in Palermo, and Lucerne Easter Festival. In the summer of 2007, it
appeared at the BBC Proms, Edinburgh Festival, Schleswig-Holstein Festival, and Semperoper
Dresden. Later that year, the SBSOV toured to Mexico, Spain, Los Angeles, San Francisco,
Boston, and Carnegie Hall, where the orchestra was conducted by Mr. Dudamel and Mr. Rattle
as part of the Berlin in Lights festival. In 2008, the SBSOV performed in
residency at the Salzburg Festival and made its Asian debut with concerts in Beijing,
Seoul, Tokyo, and Hiroshima. The following year, the orchestra made its Canadian debut to
celebrate the awarding of the Glenn Gould Prize to Dr. Abreu.
Appearances in 2010 included a residency at the Lucerne Festival, a major European tour,
and a Latin American tour to mark the bicentennial of the region's independence. Between
January and February 2012, the SBSOV participated in a three-week residency at Walt Disney
Concert Hall in Los Angeles, alternating with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in performances
of Mahler's nine symphonies as part of The Mahler Project led by Mr. Dudamel.
This program culminated in Caracas, with concerts by both orchestras at the Teatro Teresa
Carreño. In June and July, the SBSOV performed at Stirling Castle in Scotland as part of
the Cultural Olympiad, framed within the celebration of the London Olympics.
Dynamic conductor Gustavo Dudamel's passionate music-making invigorates audiences of all
ages worldwide. Concurrently serving as music director of the Simón Bolívar Symphony
Orchestra of Venezuela and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the impact of his musical
leadership is felt on several continents.
While his commitment to his music director posts in the United States and Venezuela
accounts for the major portion of his yearly schedule, Mr. Dudamel also guest conducts with
some of the world's greatest musical institutions. This season, he returns to the Vienna
Philharmonic Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker, and La Scala in both opera and concert,
along with appearances with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Staatskapelle Berlin, Israel
Philharmonic, Santa Cecilia Orchestra, and Gothenburg Symphony. Mr. Dudamel is in his
fourth season as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where he has extended the
orchestra's reach to an unprecedented extent through LA Phil LIVE, experimental
theater-casts of concerts, and Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA), influenced by
Venezuela's widely successful El Sistema. With YOLA, Mr. Dudamel brings music to children
in the underserved communities of Los Angeles, and also serves as an inspiration for
similar efforts throughout the United States, as well as for programs in Sweden and
Named one of TIME magazine's 100 most influential people in 2009, Gustavo Dudamel was born
in 1981 in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. He began violin lessons as a child with José Luis
Jiménez and Francisco Díaz at the Jacinto Lara Conservatory. He continued his violin
studies with Rubén Cova and José Francisco del Castillo at the Latin American Academy of
Violin. His conducting studies began in 1996 with Rodolfo Saglimbeni and, the same year, he
was given his first conducting position: music director of the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra.
In 1999, he was appointed music director of the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra and began
conducting studies with the orchestra's founder, Dr. José Antonio Abreu; a few years later
in 2004, Mr. Dudamel was brought to international attention by winning the inaugural
Bamberger Symphoniker Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition. These early musical and
mentoring experiences molded his commitment to music as an engine for social change-a
In 2012, Gustavo and Eloisa Dudamel launched a foundation that carries their name and is
dedicated to furthering music education and social justice around the world.