Perspectives & Collective Action

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

The EmcArts Project Develops a New Model of Social Change through Teaching Artistry

09-02-2020

Social systems are invariably complex and do not yield to lasting change through traditional advocacy or planning efforts. Why is this? In part, because humans are at once inter-dependent, passionate, assertive, and territorial. These qualities drive social systems away from being ordered and predictable in their behaviors. Most of the time, they become complex and adaptive—which means there is room for creative efforts and for irrational imagination to contribute to the emergence of positive 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.

From Lapu-Lapu to Toledo: The Influence of El Sistema in Cebu, Philippines

09-02-2020

Most of The World Ensemble reporting for the Philippines thus far has been about the Sistema-based program Ang Misyon in Manila, the Philippine capital. Unbeknownst to many—including myself, I must confess—there are many other robust Sistema-based programs all over the country that are equally worthy of feature but have not yet been given due visibility. In this article, I feature five such programs in Cebu, the place I call home. It is my hope that my writing this will pave the way for more equitable coverage.

Editorial: Virtual Music-Making as a Tool for Diplomacy

09-02-2020

As the world went into lockdown this year, most educational institutions throughout the world adapted to a new virtual learning environment. Musical classes and performances were no exception. But music is fundamentally a field that relies on subtle human interactions, bringing people physically together. The abrupt change has meant unfamiliar territory for many.

Editorial: September 2020

09-01-2020

Since March 13, life has changed drastically. Arts institutions and businesses across the country shut down. Schools emptied. Everyone turned to the internet for visibility, accessibility, and relevance.

Editorial: August 2020

08-04-2020

For me, as for many, the pandemic has been a time of Janus-like reflection—simultaneously looking back and making plans for the future. I’ve been reflecting about the early years of the El Sistema movement in the United States: we were driven by Maestro Abreu winning the 2009 TED Prize, the fiery Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, the appointment of Gustavo Dudamel to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the growing media attention on El Sistema. We had that fire-in-the-belly impetus to found new organizations across the country, with dreams of a new wave of music education.

An Open Letter to My Students

07-07-2020

As an educator, I am a role model for young people. In the wake of the social unrest following the death of George Floyd, my students made it clear: not only did they want me to amplify their voices, but they implored me to amplify my own as well. Below is an abridged version of an open letter I wrote them immediately following our discussion. The complete letter can be found at project440.org.

Editorial: July, 2020

07-07-2020

I had my first U.S. protest experience in Los Angeles, CA, after the murder of Michael Brown, Jr. I could hear but not see the protesters behind rows of policemen in riot gear. As circling helicopters kept me awake that night, I realized that I felt safer in my home country of South Africa, although I had directly experienced racism, gender-based violence, and crime there.

Editorial: June 2020

06-02-2020

On my COVID-era daily hike, I found myself behind a woman on her cell phone. At first, I resented the noise; then I began to listen. “Hello, this is Ms. F., Leila’s violin teacher. How are you?…How is she? Does she know she has messages from her music class? We are doing song-writing, and she would be so good at it…Yes, I’d love to tell her.” I realized I was hearing a new kind of musical alliance between teachers, students, and families.

Unlearning Musical Bias

06-01-2020

During an interview with Creative Generation in March of this year, Sebastian Ruth reminded us that “the core work needs to be within each of us…we always need to be investigating our own assumptions, biases, and motivations to be sure that our work is truly in service of people and their needs.”

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