The Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela (SBSOV, previously Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra) was founded by José Antonio Abreu and a group of fellow musicians, who were inspired by the ideals of Simón Bolivar. The orchestra is comprised with over 200 young musicians between the ages of 18 to 28, and is the flagship of the orchestral academic programme of the Fundación Musical “Simón Bolívar” (Fundamusical Bolívar)
Fundamusical Bolívar currently involves 400,000 beneficiaries across Venezuela, in a system that includes more than 1550 music agrupation distributed in 286 academic centers. 75 percent of these children live below the poverty line. "For the children that we work with, music is practically the only way to a dignified social destiny. Poverty means loneliness, sadness, anonymity. An orchestra means joy, motivation, teamwork, the aspiration to success." (José Antonio Abreu). Transcending its cultural role, Fundamusical Bolívar employs over 15,000 individuals whom talents and skills includes training in instrument-making, arts administration and news media.
The orchestral academic program of Fundamusical Bolívar allows the musicians of the SBSOV to explore a demanding repertory through master classes and concerts, involving soloists from leading orchestras and arts institutions such as the members of the Berliner Philharmoniker, the Sibelius Academy of Finland, Stuttgart Bachakademie and the New England Conservatory of Boston, to name a few. Their work and exchange with international conductors includes Sir Simon Rattle and Claudio Abbado, aside of working for months of the year with Gustavo Dudamel, their Music Director, and also a product of Fundamusical Bolívar.
The SBSOV has toured several times in Germany, appearing in major venues including the Berlin Philharmonie and Essen Philharmonie. It has also performed at the Parco della Musica in Rome, the Teatro Massimo in Palermo and at the Lucerne Easter Festival. In the summer of 2007, they appeared at the BBC Proms, the Edinburgh Festival and venues around in Germany, including the Schleswig Holstein Festival and the Semperoper Dresden. In Autumn 2007 the orchestra undertook a major tour with sold-out concerts in Mexico, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, and also Carnegie Hall in New York, where the orchestra was conducted by Gustavo Dudamel and Sir Simon Rattle as part of the 'Berlin in Lights' Festival, followed by a highly acclaimed tour in Spain. In Summer 2008 the Orchestra played at the most important European Festivals and cities, including Berlin, Frankfurt, Lucerne, Baden-Baden, Helsinki and an extraordinarily successful residency at the Salzburg Festival. In December 2008, SBSOV made its debut in Asia with concerts in Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo and Hiroshima. In April 2009 their North-American tour presented the orchestra in sold-out residencies in Houston, Washington, Chicago and London, at the Royal Festival Hall. In October 2009, the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, led by Gustavo Dudamel, toured a selection of Europe´s most prestigious venues including Konzerthaus in Vienna, Teatro alla Scala in Milan and Salle Pleyel in Paris. This European was followed by a trip to Toronto, where the SBYO had a week-long residency as its Canadian debut to celebrate the awarding of the Glenn Gould Prize to its founder and director, Maestro José Antonio Abreu. In addition to a concert with Gustavo Dudamel and a number of activities and events, the SBYO also offered a second concert at the Rogers Centre, led by young Venezuelan conductors.
In March 2010 their residency at the Lucerne Festival at Easter offered 4 extraordinary concerts with 4 extraordinary conductors: legendary Maestro Claudio Abbado, Gustavo Dudamel, and 2 new young talented Venezuelan conductors, Christian Vásquez and Diego Matheuz. In June 2010 their major European tour included concerts and activities in Gothenburg, Oslo, Stockholm, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Warsaw, Athens and Granada, making its debut in all these venues.
To mark the bicentennial of the independence of Latin America, the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela undertook a major tour of the region under the baton of Maestro Gustavo Dudamel, with concerts in Salvador de Bahia, Paulinia, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Santiago de Chile and Bogotá, performing works by Mahler, Ravel, Castellanos and Stravinsky. In august, they returned to BBC Proms after their now legendary 2007 concert, and to the Salzburg Festival to perform works by Mahler and Tchaikovsky. This tour finished with the Orchestra's first performances at the Istanbul Music Festival. In November, they returned to Europe for a short tour with stops in Zurich, La Scala and Rome, where they performed works by Ravel, Beethoven and Stravinsky. The same month, the orchestra faced its first international tour under the baton of the talented Diego Matheuz, already a star in Italy, playing concerts in Torino, Napoli, Genova, Palermo and Reggio Emilia, performing among other works Berlioz´s Symphonie Fantastique. In 2012 the Simón Bolívar joined forces with Los Angeles Philharmonic in the Mahler Project, both in Los Angeles and Caracas.
Between January and February 2012, the OSSBV met a stunning three-week residency at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, alternating performances of Mahler’s 9 synphonies with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the venture denominated “The Mahler Project”, led by Gustavo Dudamel. This program culminated in Caracas with concerts by both orchestras at the Teatro Teresa Carreño. In June and July 2012, the OSSBV performed as part of the “Big Concert” in Stirling, Scotland, at the inauguration of the Cultural Olympiad Festival framed within the celebration of the London Olympics. As well, the orchestra acted upon at the South Bank Centre in London; Concertgebouw in Amsterdam; L’auditori in Barcelona and Auditorio Nacional in Madrid. In July this year, the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, along with the Simon Bolivar Latinocaribeña Orchestra performed the work of the popular composer and singer Ruben Blades, all under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel in a concert that brought together an audience of more than 200.000 people.
The SBSOV and Gustavo Dudamel record for Deutsche Grammophon, and have released recordings of Beethoven’s Symphonies 5 and 7, Mahler's Symphony No. 5, the superhit CD Fiesta, with works by Latin American composers, as well as a Tcchaikovsky album featuring his Symphony 5 alongside Francesca da Rimini.