The Ensemble seeks to connect and inform all people who are committed to ensemble music education for youth empowerment and social change.
News & Resources
The new Comprehensive String Pedagogy & Curriculum (CSPC) has been written by Richard Young of the Vermeer Quartet as an in-depth tool for Sistema-inspired youth orchestra teachers, conductors, and administrators. A longtime admirer of José Antonio Abreu, Young has taught extensively throughout Latin America, Europe, and the U.S.
PBS Newshour recently caught up with Black Violin to discuss the group’s ongoing mission to disrupt people’s impressions of what classical music should be.
John Minnaar, teacher and conductor, Maseru Preparatory School
The story of music education as a catalyst for social change in South Africa and Lesotho is long and complicated. The history of human struggle and social unrest in southern Africa is well documented, but it gave birth to a new era of growth and potential for its people. One might say that in the wake of South Africa’s newfound freedom from Apartheid, democracy opened many doors to Black South Africans. Within that greater context, I share my own musical journey as a snapshot of three decades of music, equity, and opportunity in South Africa and Lesotho.
The YOLA National Festival has opened its audition portal for its July 2021 orchestral training program. Open to students from all Sistema-inspired programs; students ages 12–18 are encouraged to apply for one of the two ensembles, the Symphony Orchestra (ages 14–18) or the Chamber Orchestra (ages 12–14). The intensive experience is tentatively scheduled to take place in person in Southern California, but an official update on in-person vs. virtual programming options will be shared no later than April 1. Applications are due March 1 and recommendation letters are due March 8.
The New Jersey Symphony has a set of useful instructional videos that offer “pro tips” for the young, budding musician. Share this with your teaching artists and students for extra practice fun during the holiday break!
Hillary Harder, Program Director, ECoSistema, Indiana
In Elkhart County, Indiana, our goal is to provide all people with equitable access to quality music education from birth to young adulthood. We believe music is a birthright for every child in our community—that the extraordinary benefits of music education should be built into the fabric of every young person’s upbringing. It’s not a coincidence that the name of our program, ECoSistema (Elkhart County El Sistema), means “ecosystem” in Spanish: we believe that the El Sistema-inspired field can have the greatest impact when we take the overlapping systems already in place in our community and build music into them.
Dr. Luis Dias, Founder and Director
The Child’s Play (India) Foundation is an organization that seeks to instill positive values and provide social empowerment to India’s disadvantaged children, through the teaching of classical music at the highest possible standards. We are celebrating our 10th year of working with children in Goa, a state in western India.
Marielisa and Mariesther Alvarez, Boston String Academy Co-Directors
“Visiting Portugal with my BSA orchestra was a trip full of memories that will never stop coming back to me. It’s amazing how, despite the expected language barrier, there were no walls between us, like we didn’t need words to form friendships because the music and the passion connecting us was enough. The music is the center of it all – why we were there, why we knew each other, why we would see each other days after the trip. It’s incredible how when you love something, you don’t want to stop doing it. After spending almost eight hours playing, barely awake by the end of the day, I still wanted to wake up and do it all over again the next day because I enjoy music; I enjoy playing it, the feeling and the togetherness of the orchestra, the people I meet, the places I get to see, the pieces I get to play, the emotion I get to feel, the memories that are present forever like friendly ghosts haunting my mind, traveling wherever I go, bringing it all with me. I may be in Boston, or in L.A., or in Venezuela, or anywhere in the world, but as long as I have music, and all that comes with it, Portugal will never leave me. It changed me far too much for me to forget.”
Our first two concerts of the second school term were at retirement homes. The first concert was on 29 June at Susanne Grau Heim and the next one was on 18 July at the Katutura Old Age Home. Because 18 July was the birthday of the late Nelson Mandela, we chose to celebrate his centenary by giving our music, time and small gifts to the elderly residents.
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.