The Simón Bolívar Latin-Caribbean Orchestra (SBLCO) is an innovative pilot orchestra program established by Professor Valdemar Rodríguez for the purpose of promoting and disseminating music genres from Latin America and the Caribbean. Professor Alberto Vergara— a percussionist, medicine composer and arranger who has been a member of the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra for thirty years— is its principal conductor.
Comprised of 45 students of the Simón Bolívar Conservatory of Music plus members of other El Sistema ensembles, its repertoire is made up of songs by Juan Luis Guerra, Rubén Blades, Benny Moré, Tom Jobin, Chico Buarque, Patricio Díaz, Simón Díaz and Eddie Palmieri —exclusively arranged for the orchestra— as well as works by maestro Alberto Vergara.
In February 2011, the orchestra impressed salsa superstar Rubén Blades with a performance given at the National Center for Social Action through Music. When Blades heard the orchestra playing one of his songs, El padre Antonio y el monaguillo Andrés, he came on stage to sing along with Charlie Guzmán, lead vocalist of the SBLCO, and then said: “You have a great future ahead of you,” addressing the Venezuelan musicians.
In July 2012, the members of the Simón Bolívar Latin-Caribbean Orchestra and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela performed under the baton of maestro Gustavo Dudamel the opera-salsa Maestra vida. That same month —and at the same venue— the SBLCO performed for the internationally renowned Venezuelan singer Oscar D´León, who had this to say about the concert program: “Those arrangements and ideas are already in my heart and in my head.”
The orchestra has also been praised by other famous singers such as Gilberto Santa Rosa, Eddie Palmieri and David Bisbal.