Standard: Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Orchestra

Today I met a little bit of Venezuela.

Trumpeter friend + Gustavo Dudamel + me.

I volunteered to be part of Sistema Scotland’s Pop-Up Orchestra. This was set up as a one-off chance to play under Gustavo Dudamel. It was open to all young musicians from Scotland. Sistema Scotland is an amazing charity which aims to transform children’s lives through learning music. On top of what happened today, we got the chance to meet some of these children – they played extremely impressively – and they played alongside us in part of a rehearsal. Those I met were no older than 11 and I honestly believe they were paying more attention to the conductor than we were!

Being bombarded by sheets of music… for him to sign.

Members of the world famous Simòn Bolívar Symphony Orchestra sat within the orchestra. If nobody knows who they are, then here is the Youth Orchestra. Can you imagine anything better?

I had the incredible opportunity to sit beside a lovely violinist – I think he is the Principal of the Section? I assume so – his name was Moises if I remember correctly (it was written all over the music too). He has been playing violin for 22 years. We were at the front desk of the second violin section!


Desk partner and I (and another lady of the orchestra).

First, the Pop-Up Orchestra and 40 members of the SB Orchestra met. Then we rehearsed under the conductor in residence (he prepares the SB Orchestra in rehearsals). I can honestly say that I have never felt so much energy in an orchestra. Everyone was moving, moving, watching each other, looking over their shoulders to check on their other players. I was taken aback by how relaxed everyone was – I sometimes wasn’t sure whether or not my desk partner was going to play because he lifted his instrument up so unexpectedly. They play like soloists. They have the same passion as soloists, yet their ensemble playing never is neglected. They looked great! I couldn’t help but look at everyone. (Creepy.)

Dudamel arrived. He conducted from memory and I noticed he often looked at the baton in his hand – to check it’s moving properly? I don’t know. Other than that, his eyes were always on the orchestra. His way of expressing what he wanted in the music was very clear. He referred to a swimming fish, William Wallace, Romeo & Juliet and many other things.

I didn’t want to go! The couple of hours of rehearsals were not enough.


About to get the train back to school…

It was a great opportunity to meet friends I hadn’t seen in years. I couldn’t stop smiling all day.


On the train.

I hope I have shown how much of an experience it was to play with these amazing musicians. Sometimes when you’re in a music school, you really want to get out of this environment. I will never, ever forget today.

Currently rehearsing for our end of year Summer Concert. Only 5 days left!


4 thoughts on “Standard: Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Orchestra

  1. I read about all this in the Guardian today – it sounds terrific and looks like Scotland is ahead of the game here! It’s a great cause to join in with.

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