Under the heading "Party in the Felsenreitschule," the Munich daily Münchner Merkur boldly proclaimed: "Venezuela's Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra guests at the Salzburg Festival – and delivers the biggest audience hit of the summer." Two days after the concert reviewed by the Merkur, the ensemble united its massive forces once again for a spectacular concert in the Grosses Festspielhaus – another unqualified success! Rarely has an orchestra reached out and grabbed its audience in such a visceral manner; and even more rarely has such a feat been accomplished by an orchestra of youngsters between the ages of 12 and 26!
The Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, the Salzburg Festival's resident orchestra of 2008, is a product of the "Sistema de Orquestas" set up to allow children of all social levels to learn a musical instrument and play in an ensemble. Today, 250,000 youths are learning from 15,000 instructors and playing in over 120 youth orchestras and nearly 60 children's orchestras. Some of the Sistema's finest players were picked to form the S.B.Y.O. and to work in Salzburg with such outstanding musicians as Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Martha Argerich. "School of Listening" is documenting their activity featuring works by Beethoven and Mahler.
Conducting the orchestra in the present video is the Sistema's most celebrated alumnus, Gustavo Dudamel, born in 1981. The young maestro, who was appointed chief conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra in 2007, is, in the words of the Salzburg Festival's music director, Markus Hinterhäuser, "the most charismatic conductor since Leonard Bernstein."
A TV-Essay on Gustav Mahler by and with Leonard Bernstein including excerpts from Mahler's symphonies and song cycles
With Daniel Barenboim and Robin Ticciati – The conductor and the orchestra