MORE than 50 talented children from a deprived part of Scotland will travel to Venezuela today as part of an international youth music programme.
The 52 youngsters from Stirling, aged between nine and 15, will attend a masterclass given by conductor and violinist Gustavo Dudamel and members of The Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. They will also join children of their own age from the South American country to play a concert in one of Caracas's best-known music halls.
The trip is part of the El Sistema scheme, which has established youth orchestras in Stirling and Glasgow under the Sistema Scotland charity. There had been safety concerns about the trip and a Stirling Council official and four representatives of the Big Noise, a partnership between the local authority and Sistema Scotland, visited Venezuela before the excursion was given the go-ahead.
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Stirling Council education convenor Alistair Berrill said: "Big Noise is about improving children's lives through a programme of music. It provides opportunities to benefit the children themselves, their families, and the whole community. This trip will be a truly once in a lifetime experience."
Nicola Killean, director and chief executive of Sistema Scotland, added: "The children have earned this opportunity through their hard work."