This interview with a player from the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela is an important one in many ways, not least because violinist, Alexander Jones-Madrid is half-Venezuelan and half-American with his musical education in both countries. He shares how and why one of the two countries triggered his first real experience of nerves. He talks about his musical education in El Sistema, Venezuela and he mentions the word ‘fun’ with regard to performing more than anyone else else in the series. That, to me, says a lot!

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The Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela (SBSOV), founded in 1975 by José Antonio Abreu, has continuously aimed to create new opportunities for musical excellence in Venezuela for the past 40 years. Its 180 members, named UNESCO Artists for Peace, have been trained under the El Sistema’s Orchestral Academic Programme. They have also taken master classes with internationally renowned professors and performed under famous maestros such as Sir Simon Rattle, Claudio Abbado, Daniel Baremboim, Kristof Penderecki, Essa Pekka-Salonen and Lorin Maazel, amongst others.

Led by their Music Director Gustavo Dudamel, the SBSOV have toured extensively appearing in major orchestral venues such as the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Philharmonie de Paris, London’s Royal Festival Hall and Carnegie Hall in New York. Furthermore, the orchestra tours regularly around Europe and the Americas, and has toured to Asia and the Middle East. Forthcoming projects include residencies at Teatro alla Scala as part of the EXPO Milan 2015 and in Los Angeles as part of the LA Philharmonic’s Immortal Beethoven – Gustavo Dudamel’s latest symphonic cycle.

Alexander Jones-Madrid is a violinist in the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela.