Community Building

The Ensemble seeks to connect and inform all people who are committed to ensemble music education for youth empowerment and social change.

The Abreu Chamber Choir

01-06-2021

The Abreu Chamber Choir (ACC) is a vocal group formed by young Venezuelan singers who grew up in El Sistema programs but are currently residing in several countries in Europe. The group was founded because of a desire to return to making music with colleagues and friends. We have organized a number of concerts, collaborative learning days, and training workshops for young singers and conductors, continuing the legacy and visionary teachings of Maestro José Antonio Abreu.

A Musical and Communal Journey in Lesotho and South Africa

01-06-2021

The story of music education as a catalyst for social change in South Africa and Lesotho is long and complicated. The history of human struggle and social unrest in southern Africa is well documented, but it gave birth to a new era of growth and potential for its people. One might say that in the wake of South Africa’s newfound freedom from Apartheid, democracy opened many doors to Black South Africans. Within that greater context, I share my own musical journey as a snapshot of three decades of music, equity, and opportunity in South Africa and Lesotho.

Making Time for the Milestones

01-05-2021

This past summer, the evening that Play On Philly (POP) presented its virtual showcase concert happened to mark the ten-year anniversary of our decision to launch the program. As I sat at my laptop watching, I felt sad not to be celebrating that milestone in person with my POP family. But I also felt gratitude as I reflected on how our community has supported each other since the day we started. We have always embraced the El Sistema philosophy and encouraged our students and teachers to reach for levels of learning and engagement we know are possible to achieve.

Music for the Whole Community, One Backyard at a Time

01-05-2021

East Lake Expression Engine (ELEE), which began in 2014, serves the East Lake neighborhood of Chattanooga, Tennessee. We usually serve 75 to 100 kids each semester. Our program meets in a church that is conveniently located between the elementary and middle schools that serve our neighborhood. East Lake is wonderfully walkable; our staff members walk to the elementary school to pick up our students there, and our middle and high school students walk to us. Several of our staff members live in the neighborhood. This has long provided us with daily opportunities for casual, neighborly relationships with our students’ families. During 2020, that proximity has been invaluable.

YOLA National Festival Opens Auditions for the 2021 Season—deadline Mar. 1

01-05-2021

The YOLA National Festival has opened its audition portal for its July 2021 orchestral training program. Open to students from all Sistema-inspired programs; students ages 12–18 are encouraged to apply for one of the two ensembles, the Symphony Orchestra (ages 14–18) or the Chamber Orchestra (ages 12–14). The intensive experience is tentatively scheduled to take place in person in Southern California, but an official update on in-person vs. virtual programming options will be shared no later than April 1. Applications are due March 1 and recommendation letters are due March 8.

Help Creative Generation Re-Think ‘Mentorship’—deadline Jan. 15

12-16-2020

Do you have useful definitions of mentorship that are not solely based on age, title, or perceived level of expertise? Creative Generation will publish a series of papers that disrupt and interrogate long-held ideas of mentorship—promoting youth-centered, multilateral, intergenerational, and/or cyclical mentorship models in arts and cultural education.

Road Tripping through Mexico with Linda and the Mockingbirds

12-02-2020

“Hey, Verenice! We are taking a bus with Linda to Sonora—we’d like you to join us with your fiddle.” I was in my third year at UC San Diego when Eugene Rodriguez, Founder and Director of Los Cenzontles, called me with an invitation to take a very special trip. Just a few months later, I was on a bus to Sonora, Mexico with Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, several Cenzontles, and many more family and friends, embarking on a musical journey that was filmed to create Linda and the Mockingbirds.

Codi’r To: El Sistema in Wales, and in Welsh

12-02-2020

Codi’r To (Welsh for “raising the roof”) is a Welsh-language community project that delivers the world-renowned El Sistema program in areas of multiple deprivation in North Wales. Specifically, we seek to tackle disadvantage and educational underachievement in two communities of multiple deprivation. We hope to provide inspiration and transformation for children, families, schools, and communities, changing lives for the better through music.

Connect.Adapt.Thrive! El Sistema USA Releases Theme for 2021 National Symposium and Seminario

12-01-2020

El Sistema USA has released the theme for their 2021 National Symposium and Seminario, charging the field to “Connect.Adapt.Thrive!The event, now in its third year, will be held virtually and will be hosted by the Sistema-inspired program Miami Music Project. It will take place from February 15-19, 2021, and focus on three main areas: Racial Diversity and Cultural Understanding, Musical Excellence during the pandemic, and Team and Family Support pre- and post-pandemic. Requests for session proposals are due December 15. Proposal submissions can be made here.

Stay the Course, or Innovate?

12-01-2020

We are all seeking a path forward. We are all managing COVID-19 closures. And we are doing all of this alongside an upsurge of social and political unrest. We are struggling mightily and wondering what to do next. This moment of uncertainty is like no other, and as we try to understand the future role of our work, we wonder: should we continue business as usual? Or should we innovate now, and hope that we find the right recipe for future success?

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