North America

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

From the Editor


I’ve been thinking lately about the problematic nature of the relationship between Sistema and pop music. I don’t mean the genre issue. I am a fan of many current pop artists and much pop music. And I think it’s absolutely essential that Sistema programs embrace ensemble arrangements of the pop music that is meaningful to our kids. So this is not about “classical” versus “pop.” Rather, it’s about the collaborative ethos at the heart of Sistema versus the cult of individual celebrity that dominates pop culture.

Introducing the L.A. Orchestra Fellowship


A model to adopt?  This was the first year of the L.A. Orchestra Fellowship, a two-year intensive for musicians who play violin, viola and cello.

More Than the Sum of Our Parts


We start with the premise, “Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.” Collaboration is not a simple process – it is so much easier just to insulate your organization and do everything in exactly the way you would like. But then the larger purpose that so many of us are working towards – life-changing opportunities for young people that are made possible by equitable music education for all – will never be achieved.

From the Editor


More than the sum of our parts. We tell our students that’s what an orchestra is. Violins plus clarinets, trombones plus marimbas plus cellos—all those disparate musical essences combined create something that is unimaginable when hearing each of them separately. The whole is of a different order.

The One American in SEYO


Last August, I had the good fortune to be the only U.S. musician in the Sistema Europe Youth Orchestra. SEYO generously offered me that opportunity because I was born in Birmingham, England – the site of the “SEYO 18” Festival – and was back visiting the city after living in the States for 14 years.

From the Editor


Do you think of yourself as a teaching artist? Many teachers in the global Sistema use that term to describe what they do. Sometimes, though, there can be a lack of clarity about what it means – and a lack of awareness that there is, in fact, a powerful and growing global movement for Teaching Artistry, just as there is for El Sistema.

Take A Stand Junior Strings


The creation of the forty-member Junior String Ensemble for this year’s Take a Stand Festival was a new step for the TAS Festival – and its success was beyond all expectations. The student musicians came wonderfully prepared. Our curriculum for them went beyond learning the concert repertoire to include leadership skills, chamber music skills, and interaction with a living composer.

Meet the National Alliance for Audition Support


For El Sistema students with aspirations to pursue music as a career, the idea of becoming a professional orchestral musician can seem daunting. It can be a tough, competitive journey, and for Black and Latinx musicians, who currently represent less than 5% of musicians in American orchestras, the journey can present challenges not readily understood or acknowledged by others in the field. To address these challenges, three organizations are working together to support musicians of color in achieving success.

Massachusetts Cultural Council META Fellowship


The Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) with The Klarman Family Foundation kick off the second cohort of the META Fellowship this month.  The term stands for Music Educators and Teaching Artists, and it is a two year professional development program for about 60 Fellows, including faculty from Sistema-inspired programs in the state.


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