Student Voice & Leadership
The Ensemble seeks to connect and inform all people who are committed to ensemble music education for youth empowerment and social change.
News & Resources
This month’s Ambassador updates are a vibrant mix of song, sound, and reflection. First, learn about how the Pizzicato Effect program in Australia has been ramping up motivation for the new musical year, and then watch Ugandan musicians from Architects of Music perform a local song. Afterward, read about an exciting initiative to strengthen connections between alumni and current students at the Harmony Project in LA, and then marvel at excellent performances by students from the Music for Peace Foundation in Turkey. Finally, contemplate along with Canadian Ambassador Helen Faucher as she examines a critical conversation she had with her violin teacher.
As part of a new repertoire series for the 2021-22 season, the New York Youth Symphony has produced an educational video series highlighting the history and works of composers from historically underrepresented communities.
Young people consistently rank culminating events—performances, exhibitions, youth summits, screenings of their films—as powerful motivators in their involvement in creative youth development (CYD) programs.
Do you have young people in your program, in the U.S. or any other country, who would like to engage with peers (ages 16–24) in open conversations?
The WE Ambassadors were recently invited to participate in the El Sistema USA 2021 National Symposium and Seminario. They participated in various events and hosted their own panel discussion on “The Magic of Music Mentoring Around the World.” For the latter, they filmed videos of themselves proudly talking about their musical programs. Here is what they had to say about the experience.
The Colburn School’s Center for Innovation and Community Impact is expanding Fortissima to become national. Launched by Jazmín Morales in 2017, Fortissima is an artistic and leadership development program for high school–age young women from minorities underrepresented in classical music who show an interest in pursuing a career in orchestral music.
The YOLA National Festival has extended the audition window for its July 2021 orchestral training program. The new deadline is March 6 (originally March 1). 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).
Patrick Scafidi, Executive Editor of The Ensemble News
On October 9, 2020, Brooklyn 7th-grader Grace Moore stood in front of an audience of New Yorkers. At 11 years of age, she was debuting her first composition, “Summer.” Grace is a participant in the Very Young Composers (VYC) program, a now-international program initiated by the New York Philharmonic over two decades ago. In the VYC, students are empowered to compose and notate their own original works while guided and supported by Philharmonic Teaching Artists. In this alone, the VYC already echoes the spirit of El Sistema, but that is not what made Grace’s debut remarkable. It was momentous because her work was performed, in its debut, by musicians in the New York Philharmonic. This is the standout element of the Very Young Composers program: young participants get to see and hear their work performed by Philharmonic musicians—and sometimes, the full orchestra.
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.
You probably have several secret (or not-so-secret) young songwriters in your program—pass this resource along to them. Carnegie Hall has posted a five-part workshop on “How to Write a Song,” led by songwriter and performer Bridget Barkan. The series explores the power of songs and provides a step-by-step approach to crafting a song that expresses ideas and emotions; finding inspiration; writing a chorus, verse, and bridge; and making sure that the song has the communicative power of personal voice.