On Thursday 8th January, over 100 students enjoyed watching the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela in action. In the morning, 72 excited Year 7 students made the journey along the District line to see the orchestra in rehearsal. As they entered the Royal Festival Hall to the deafening sound of Wagner’s ‘Ride of the Valkyries’, the students were stunned by the number of players on the stage – all 200 of them!
The students heard more Wagner opera highlights before the orchestra rehearsed the whole of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, the piece they are studying this term. As the rehearsal ended, the students gave the orchestra a huge round of applause before a few dashed to the stage to meet and thank Gustavo Dudamel for letting us listen to the rehearsal.
After all the excitement of the afternoon, it was back to school for our Year 7s. We spent the train journey talking about their experience:
‘The venue was staggeringly huge’; ‘I thought it was amazing…such beautiful sounds’; ‘Miss I loved it!’
At 4.30pm, another group of students gathered ready to make their way to the Southbank Centre for a pre-concert talk given by three players from the orchestra and Gillian Moore, Head of Classical Music at the Southbank Centre. They were staggered to learn that many of the players have other jobs or are studying, that they practise for many hours a day, and that 70% of the orchestra have been playing together for over 15 years. The players said that they believed that they are known for their energy when playing because they know each other so well.
The group then enjoyed the sold-out concerts from fantastic seats that gave them a brilliant view of the orchestra. Too soon it was over. Listen to the students talking about their experience in the video below – and thank you to the SBSOV and the Southbank Centre for inviting us to the event!