London 2012 Festival: Bolivars arrive for Big Concert

The Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela are in Scotland to inspire and play alongside the children of the Raploch estate.

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The world-famous Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra has arrived in Scotland, in preparation for the opening concert of the London 2012 Festival on Thursday.

The Big Concert will bring conductor Gustavo Dudamel and his 200-strong orchestra to Stirling's Raploch scheme.

Dudamel is patron of Sistema Scotland, which has been working in Raploch, teaching music to hundreds of children.

Youngsters from the estate's Big Noise orchestra will take to the stage to perform with the Venezuelan musicians.

Dudamel has been described as one of the most "exciting" conductors in the world.

Gustavo Dudamel Gustavo Dudamel is the conductor of the Simon Bolivar Orchestra

His own musical education began in El Sistema, which has taught music to hundreds of thousands of poor Venezuelan youngsters over the past 37 years.

It has a philosophy of social transformation through music education, seeking to keep children away from a life of disaffection and crime.

The only UK version of El Sistema, Sistema Scotland, was set-up in 2008 in the Raploch estate.

There are now 450 children taking part, from a community which numbers just 3,000.

Dudamel said it was a huge pleasure to play for the community in Raploch.

He said: "To see how this programme, which was I think the first outside Venezuela, has grown is beautiful. It is a huge honour to be part of this moment."

The 'Bolivars', as the Venezuelans are commonly known, arrived in Stirling ahead of four days of workshops and the midsummer night concert in front of 8,000 people on Thursday.

It will see youngsters from the Raploch Big Noise orchestra side by side with the international superstars for part of the concert programme.

Up to 130 children from the scheme will play a Beethoven overture under the direction of Dudamel - who is also director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

The concert will be beamed across the UK live on 22 giant screens, and watched around the world.

It will also be broadcast on BBC4 and BBC Radio Scotland.

The London 2012 Festival, part of the Cultural Olympiad, runs from 21 June to 9 September, the last day of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

There will be 12,000 performances and events to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic Games.

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