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In case you're not satisfied with the plethora of free performances this Thursday and Saturday by members of the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is also coordinating other events in conjunction with their visit. On Thursday, the CSO hosts a two-part symposium in Grainger Hall on the famed Venezuelan music education program known as "El Sistema." In the first session, beginning at 1 PM, founder José Antonio Abreu and administrative director Eduardo Mende, along with New England Conservatory of Music dean Mark Churchill, discuss the history, goals, and growth of El Sistema, which provides instruction to 250,000 underprivileged youth. The second session, at 2:30 PM, focuses on the music instruction techniques used in El Sistema, and teachers from the program will discuss their methods and strategies. Reservations are required; call 312-294-3846.
And on Saturday at 1 PM in the CSO's Orchestra Hall, the superstar conductor of the Orchestra, Simon Dudamel, and his young charges provide side-by-side instruction to young local musicians. Tickets are free (call 312-294-3000), but there's a processing fee of $1 per ticket.