Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Children Go Caracas for This Inspirational Youth Orchestra

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Children Go Caracas for This Inspirational Youth Orchestra

Article excerpt

Byline: LOUISE JURY Chief Arts Correspondent

THE Southbank Centre welcomed one of the hottest young orchestras in the world today and such was the demand that there were queues of fans trying to watch the rehearsals.

The Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra from Venezuela, founded to give deprived youngsters an escape from poverty through music, began a weeklong residency.

Around 2,400 people packed into the Royal Festival Hall to see the first rehearsal free of charge.

The decision to open up the rehearsals to the public was made after tickets for the two proper concerts sold out within days of being announced.

Architect Michael Casey from Muswell Hill said he and his wife, Victoria, had spotted the free open rehearsal after failing to get concert tickets and brought their children, Veronica, 10, and eight-year-old Finn.

Mr Casey said: "It's a great idea to have open rehearsals. It's a good way of introducing the children to what a really big orchestra sounds like." Anna Latuff, from Wimbledon, had brought her two daughters and two of their friends aged 11 to five. Bettina Latuff, 10, who plays piano and cello, said: "I think it's really amazing. It's inspired me to play even harder." The rehearsal was heard in near silence despite there being many young people in the audience and the 180-strong orchestra was cheered to the rafters.

Today's rehearsal was in preparation for tonight's opening concert which follows a storming tour of America where an encore in Washington caused a stampede. Jose Antonio Abreu, the founder of the orchestra, said today he hoped it would be the beginning of a long relationship. "It's the beginning of a collaboration with the Southbank

Centre and we're in discussions about future projects." Dr Abreu said the orchestra's appearance at the Proms two years ago had been unforgettable: "Our players all agree that it's one of the most memorable concerts of their lives. …

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