The Ensemble seeks to connect and inform all people who are committed to ensemble music education for youth empowerment and social change.
News & Resources
Western Arts Alliance is opening its international showcase application for the Performing Arts Discovery program (PAD) 2021 season. Launched by the National Endowment for the Arts to promote U.S. artists to international programmers, PAD welcomes artists of any art form or genre who are ready to tour internationally. Those who identify as LGBTQ+ and/or BIPOC are especially encouraged to apply. There is no fee to apply and submissions are due by June 25; find out more via Western Arts Alliance.
The SEYO 2021 SummerFest is happening this July and will feature a World Ensemble Day on July 22. We will explore some of the coolest, cleverest, most unusual and interesting projects or practices of Sistema-inspired programs around the world. Are you particularly proud of something your program does which others likely don’t do? It could be anything—a surprising and effective way that you present music, raise funds, engage students, inspire teachers, or make connections. Who knows what clever ideas are working out there?
Let us know, so we can share your work at this global conference! It doesn’t need to be a big feature—it could be a musical warmup you’ve invented, or something you do at rehearsals, or a way you communicate with parents.
Elena LeVan, Administrative Assistant, Project 440
The first note an audience hears at any symphonic concert comes in at 440 Hz—the pitch A. Typically, the oboe plays this first pitch, followed by the rest of the orchestra as the tuning routine begins. Whether performing Bach concerto or Vivaldi suite, they will perform in tune, thanks to that first tuning pitch.
Clare Hoffman, Founder and Artistic Director, Grand Canyon Music Festival
In 1983, just a few years out of music conservatory, my husband Robert Bonfiglio and I embarked on a vacation to the American Southwest. We started our trip at the Grand Canyon, with our instruments in our backpacks, a rim-to-rim-to-rim four-day hike through the canyon. The first evening, with my aching feet soaking in the cold waters of the Colorado River, I took out my flute and played. The following morning, we packed up and headed up the floor of the canyon to Cottonwood campground, where I found a washed-out tree trunk to rest under and again played my flute. A park ranger followed the sound of the flute and, when he found us, invited us to the ranger’s hut that evening to play a concert.
Mark Churchill, Founder, El Sistema USA; Dean Emeritus, Preparatory and Continuing Education, New England Conservatory
In October of 2008, sitting alongside Maestro José Antonio Abreu, I experienced a moment of clarity. We were visiting the state of Trujillo in the far-northwest corner of Venezuela, where the state’s six major núcleos had formed a special orchestra to put on a command performance for the Maestro. A group 200 strong, all between 10–25 years old. A breathtaking interpretation of the first movement of Mahler’s First Symphony ensued, the type of concert I had experienced so many times with awe. But then Maestro Abreu addressed the orchestra. He set out his vision for each of their lives, full of contribution, artistry, and joy. At one point he asked, “Who of you wants to be a teacher?” Every hand shot up; every face was shining. My first thought was: “What a beautiful tribute to the community of educators nurturing these young people.” I came away with the profound understanding that teaching was at the core of it all.
Christina Placilla, Director of Education, The Harmony Program, and Dan Trahey, Founder and Creative Director, The Collective Conservatory; Creator and Director, Tuned In, The Peabody Institute at the Johns Hopkins University; and Artistic Liaison, OrchKids, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Earlier this year, Dan Trahey and Pete Tashjian of The Collective Conservatory were invited by the Harmony Program to facilitate an eight-week Saturday-morning creativity workshop with students from multiple Harmony Program sites across New York City. The partnership was a natural fit. The Collective Conservatory’s work is rooted in creating environments that allow for personal expression, group problem-solving, self-esteem building through promoting individual assets, self-awareness, and increased musical skill sets. The Harmony Program, which provides after-school music education programs in underserved NYC communities, has long prioritized the development of Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) skills. As a natural extension of The Collective Conservatory’s programming, the workshop emphasized SEL to create a framework and pathway to concretely study creativity.
The Sphinx Organization recently announced its partnership with the Illuminate Series, focusing on the stories from Black perspectives in classical music. The series was founded and curated by Sphinx programming alumni Steven Banks, Randal Goosby, and Anthony Trionfo. Conversations range from music education during the pandemic, intersectionality between race, identity, and sexuality, and artist activism.
The 2021 YOLA National Symposium will be held October 20–23, 2021. Happening both in person and virtually, the Symposium will explore the theme of Embracing Change: how to “adopt a transformational approach to teaching, learning, and program design for a stronger future for our young people and communities.” The array of sessions will provide attendees with opportunities to collaborate, share, learn, train, and network. Registration opens on June 3, and the deadline to submit a proposal is July 15. Email email@example.com with questions and visit the YOLA site to register and learn more.
Mark your calendars! The Americans for the Arts Annual Convention takes place this year from June 8–11. The conference will remain virtual to ensure safety and maintain accessibility for the entire field, featuring core discussion topics such as: Equity in Creative Recovery, Improving Policies and Practices for the Creative Economy, the Creative Engines of Tomorrow, and Putting Creative Workers and Culture Organizations to Work. The conference requires a profile setup and there is a fee to attend. Learn more details on the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention webpage.
The USA TODAY NETWORK has started a crowdfunding and grantmaking program from the Gannett Foundation that aims to invest in community-building initiatives across the country. The A Community Thrives initiative allows programs to share their community improvement ideas on a national stage to gain a wider network of support, publicity, and donations.