The Ensemble News connects and informs all those who are committed to inclusive ensemble music education for youth empowerment and social change. We are the foremost communications hub for teaching artists, program leaders, educators, funders, researchers, and students and families to share their insights and experiences.
Founded by Eric Booth and Tricia Tunstall in 2011 as a monthly newsletter to engage and invigorate members of the growing El Sistema community, The Ensemble is now published by the Longy School of Music of Bard College. Our Ensemble and World Ensemble newsletters reach wide North American and global readerships. In light of the upsurge of diverse programs across the world that use music for socially transformative purposes, we have expanded our focus to include anyone who is invested in music for social change. Now and always, we seek to amplify, connect, and celebrate the work of those using music to build a better world for the next generation.
About El Sistema
El Sistema is the 45-year-old national youth orchestra program founded in Venezuela by José Antonio Abreu. It grew nationally to engage nearly one million young people, with “núcleo” music centers in all parts of the country, usually located in barrios. El Sistema has created dozens of regional orchestras of astonishing excellence, as well as numerous globally touring orchestras and choirs that have gained world renown. Its main goal is to empower young people to create productive and engaged lives, and it stands as the world’s most outstanding accomplishment in youth empowerment.
The unprecedented achievements in Venezuela inspired the launch of similar programs throughout Latin America in the late 20th century, often helped along by Venezuelan mentors. Large programs thrive in Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, and many other countries. Beginning around 2007, El Sistema inspired the birth of many programs in North America, and there are now over 150 programs across the U.S. and Canada. Over the past decade, El Sistema as a set of values, principles, and practices has rapidly spread to the rest of the world. There are now El Sistema-inspired programs in over 66 countries, on every continent except Antarctica.
In recent years, the model of El Sistema has been joined by many other programs that share the same values and priorities, even though their methods and repertoire may differ. The Ensemble News will always honor and value our El Sistema lineage, and we now celebrate the wider movement of programs that engage in intensive, inclusive youth ensemble music as a way to empower young people to create greater agency in their own lives and great vibrancy and possibility in their communities.