Latin America

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

Jorge Peña Hen: A Different Kind of Human Being

09-01-2021

A young man of only 17, Jorge Peña Hen was already reflecting on serious issues in 1945. In particular, the Composition and Orchestral Conducting student at the National Conservatory of Music in Santiago (Chile) had been influenced by radical new ideas about decolonizing education, and he was taking his new vision to the provinces.

Grants Aid Marginalized Populations in the U.S., East Africa, and Central America

08-18-2021

Jewish Helping Hands’ Tikkun Olam Grant Program helps vulnerable populations across the world by supporting projects focused on economic development and social empowerment, with a particular emphasis on those demographics that have been overlooked or marginalized. Projects in the United States, East Africa, and Central America, as well as regions worldwide with impoverished Jewish populations, are given priority. Grants range up to $10,000 for projects in the U.S. and up to $5,000 for projects in other countries. Initial inquiry forms must be submitted by September 14, 2021; invited full applications will be due December 14, 2021. Visit the Jewish Helping Hands website to learn more.

New International Music Festival for Young Musicians in Chile

08-18-2021

An Orchestra of the Americas alum has started an international music festival offering young musicians week-long intensive sessions with renowned faculty from the Orchestre de Paris, Metropolitan Opera, and other world-class institutions. The International Chamber Music Festival of Elqui is open to ambitious young musicians studying piano, strings, winds, and percussion, and will take place this November at Chile’s University of La Serena. Check out their website for more information, and follow their Facebook and Instagram accounts for upcoming information on how to register.

Jorge Peña Hen: A Giant of Our Cultural Heritage

08-04-2021

Winter 2012, La Serena, Chile: an overcast but mild day, with a soft, chilly ocean breeze from the Pacific Ocean’s Humboldt Current. I was with Victor Hugo, a high school friend of mine who had put his trumpet aside to study law and journalism at the university before becoming the editor of a local newspaper. We were both accompanying Don Juan Orrego Salas, a 93-year-old gentleman who was visiting our city to pay a posthumous tribute to a dear friend of his, to whom he had never gotten to say goodbye in person. We bought a bouquet of flowers and entered the front gate of the cemetery without an exact knowledge of where we were going—which was not a problem, since everyone we passed knew the precise location of the memorial to Jorge Peña Hen.

Using Music Learning to Help Our Young People Rebuild Affective Ties

08-04-2021

The pandemic has not been just a biological or epidemiological problem. It has also created enormous disruptions in our social and affective lives. Especially in the spaces of education and social interaction, it has inhibited all the imperceptible links that unite us and that allow us to interact socially. For our children and youth, this has produced reluctance, lack of interest and enthusiasm, and, in some cases, depression. A year of isolation changes people—especially young people—and their perspectives on what is important in life.

Iberacademy: Human Development Based on Musical Excellence

07-07-2021

More than a decade ago, Colombian orchestra conductor Alejandro Posada founded the Iberoamerican Philharmonic Academy—Iberacademy—in Medellín with one purpose in mind: to provide young Latin American talent with opportunities for human development through musical education of excellence.

Venezuelan Musicians in Crisis Recreate Musical Identity across the World

06-02-2021

Across the world, members of the music for social change movement hold a special connection to Venezuela, and many feel great concern for the astoundingly difficult circumstances its people have faced in recent years. The ongoing crisis remains massively under-reported in the media and under-funded by the global community. Brookings Institution calls this “the largest and most under-funded refugee crisis in modern history”; Venezuela is on track to overtake Syria as the country with the most displaced people, with 5.4 million and counting. Meanwhile, the international community has committed significantly less funding to Venezuelans. Four years into the Syrian crisis, $7.4 billion in international aid ($1,500 per refugee) had been amassed, while at a similar point in Venezuela’s crisis, only $580 million has been spent ($125 per person).

Orchestras of the Venezuelan Diaspora

05-05-2021

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are 5.4 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants worldwide—one of the largest displacement crises in the world. Many among these are former students, teachers, and leaders of El Sistema, Venezuela’s national youth orchestra program, founded by Maestro José Antonio Abreu in 1975; this growing diaspora has been shaping and enriching cultures in host countries. Displaced Venezuelans continue to make beautiful music, and not just as teachers and solo performers. Across the world, Venezuelan-founded orchestras continue to pop up, no less technically brilliant than those that made El Sistema a globally adapted model. One article in the magazine Guataca, which promotes Venezuelan music and musical initiatives around the world, reminds us of that continuing legacy.

School Youth Orchestras in Rio de Janeiro: A New Paradigm for Sustainable Development

04-07-2021

Morro da Providência, a vast hillside favela (slum) in Rio de Janeiro, is the oldest favela in Brazil. In 2011, over a hundred years after it was first occupied by unpaid war veterans and freed slaves, a group of local residents passionate about social change launched the Cultural Association Amigos da Providência. During the past decade, that association has developed into the Brazilian Institute of Music and Education (IBME), which pursues artistic, educational, and professional training projects for children, adolescents, and young people in the public school system.

Save the Date: July 19-31, 2021

04-07-2021

Sistema Europe and Acción Social por la Música are partnering in a two-year Sistema Europe Youth Orchestra project, “We Play to Transform the World.” During Summer 2021, an online SEYO Summerfest 21 will provide a digital space for online performances, thought sessions, and classes; all will be open and free to Sistema-inspired participants from Europe and around the world. Sessions will also include rehearsal classes and preparation work for SEYO Madrid 22, when Acción Social por la Música will host the 2022 SEYO Festival in Madrid.

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