Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra | Symphony Center | Classical | Chicago Reader

Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra Critic's Choice Recommended Soundboard

When: 2009

“I don’t feel nervous in front of any orchestra. I feel only excitement, adrenaline, pleasure. I love to conduct. It’s what I was born to do.” Is 28-year-old Venezuelan dynamo Gustavo Dudamel worthy of the comparisons to the young Leonard Bernstein? Possibly. The New York Philharmonic loaned him a Bernstein baton for his debut with them, and he continues to inspire some of the world’s most venerable orchestras. For all the exuberance in his performances, there is also great attention to detail, and it’s this combination that allows him to make even overplayed works sound fresh. In 2006 Daniel Barenboim told Gramophone magazine that Dudamel “knows everything one cannot learn about music.” Dudamel is currently touring with the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela (“my family,” he says). Together, they’re the pearl of El Sistema, a thriving network of music schools and youth orchestras that seeks to give Venezuela’s youth a safe haven from the drugs, violence, and despair of the streets. The concert opens with Ravel’s seductive Suite no. 2 from Daphnis et Chloe, followed by Evencio Castellanos’s Santa Cruz de Pacairigua, an effusively Latin work that should really jump, and Tchaikovsky’s fervent Fourth Symphony. The orchestra will hold an open rehearsal on Thursday, and members will perform several small-group concerts at various venues on Thursday and Saturday; details are available at cso.org. —Steve Langendorf

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