Latin America

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

Dispatch from the Venezuelan Diaspora

09-02-2020

I first met Anthony Pérez more than a decade ago in Venezuela; he was a promising trumpet player from the Andean state of Táchira. We worked together on several occasions, as his energetic performance and manner made him a fantastic interview subject regarding the work of our orchestras and chamber ensembles. His story—a young boy in the town of Rubio rising to be one of the main brass players in the Simón Bolívar Orchestra—made for terrific press. You can see him playing alongside his peers, his hair slicked back, in YouTube clips of the legendary 2007 BBC Proms performance, led by Gustavo Dudamel, that introduced the orchestra to the world.

Musicaustral Nurtures a Modern Latin Folk Music Community

08-05-2020

The story of Latin American folk music in 20th century Chile illustrates how artists reflect and impact societies. One of the most important figures of this period was Violeta Parra (1917-67), a visionary artist and activist known as the “Mother of Latin American Folk.” Parra led the Nueva Canción Chilena, a revival of Chilean folk music and traditions. Her life and work inspired generations of musicians who gave voice to social and political movements throughout Latin America.

Prioritizing Families in NEOJIBA’s Virtual Programming

07-01-2020

NEOJIBA is a public El Sistema-inspired program in Brazil, founded by Ricardo Castro in 2007 and implemented by the State of Bahia through the Secretariat of Justice, Human Rights, and Social Development (Secretaria de Justiça, Direitos Humanos e Desenvolvimento Social). One of our most critical components is the Social Development Sector, which is composed of eight professionals with educational backgrounds in social work and psychology. These professionals work daily to ameliorate socioeconomic and educational inequalities that confront many of our students, and to provide full access to social rights. They also provide individual and/or group psychosocial appointments for students and their families. Through attentive and qualified listening, our professionals enable families to work through social circumstances and establish intervention strategies. These unfold in a set of actions, tailored to each individual or family, that help participants work through their specific issues.

“Future Farming”: A Case for Investing in Top Talent

06-01-2020

Ilumina is a musical social equity project, chamber music festival, and touring ensemble based in São Paulo, Brazil. Our talent development model is to invest deep, not wide. Each year, we select 25 young South American musicians with extraordinary potential, ages 18-26, using an extremely selective YouTube audition and written application. Our hypothesis (we call it “future farming”) is that deep investment and extraordinary access for potential leaders will sow the seeds for exponential transformation and good teaching down the social and educational pyramid.

Orquesta Juvenil de Curanilahue: Reflecting on the 25-year History of One of Chile’s First Youth Orchestras

05-04-2020

When you arrive in Curanilahue, Chile, one of the first things you see is a large statue of an upright wooden hand. The smaller replicas available for purchase in town read, “Tengo las manos ásperas pero hay pan en mi mesa,” which roughly  translates to: “Though our hands are worn, there is bread on the table.” This blue-collar mantra embodies the economy, culture, and subconscious of the region. From an outsider’s perspective, people are humble and work hard when given the opportunity. Small sheet-metal houses line the streets, and nothing really stands out.

Nurturing the Artistry in Leadership: Wind Conductor Development In Chile

04-02-2020

This was my initial mindset in December of 2019, when I received news that I was to lead a Wind Conductor Intensive in Santiago as part of my work with the Global Leaders Program. I was delighted to learn that one of my most important early mentors, Maestro Carl Hammond, would also be in Santiago working with me as a co-clinician on this course.

Music Was Made in the Jungle

03-04-2020

In a little jungle-engulfed town in the Bolivian Amazon sits a music program that has changed the region’s social, cultural, and artistic complexion: The Music School of San Ignacio de Moxos. The school began without much forethought. Seeing it as an opportunity to pass along the musical legacy of Jesuit missions, a nun of the order of the Ursulines of Jesus opened the school in 1996 to encourage musical learning among her teenagers. Despite its modest aspirations, the school grew into something more impactful than she ever could have expected.

El Sistema Venezuela Turns 45

03-04-2020

Last month, we celebrated another landmark year for El Sistema Venezuela. In its 45 years of activity, this institution has created an unfathomable number of transformative experiences for the people of Venezuela and the rest of the world. This anniversary gives us an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of now three generations of Venezuelan youth, and the legacy of our dearly remembered Maestro José Antonio Abreu.

Strength Through Musical Alliance in San Antonio, Chile

02-05-2020

This is the battle cry, originally from a famous Chilean protest song of the seventies, that resonates in the streets of Chile in recent weeks. The Chilean people occupied public spaces to demand a fairer state and to fight against inequality and social injustice. The rest of the world watches, shocked, at the tragic occurrences unfolding in the protests, and condemns the violence. As, of course, do I.

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